Student of the Month

May Student of the Month: Natalie Sims

By May 5, 2015 October 25th, 2018 No Comments

What is your background?: I grew up in Grinnell, Iowa and graduated from Grinnell Community Senior High School in 2010. My mom, Wanda, works at the University of Iowa and my dad, Michael, works at Grinnell College; both are administrators. My brother, Quentin, graduates this Spring 2015 from Kirkwood with his Associates in Graphic Communications. He will continue for his Bachelor’s at Mount Mercy this Fall 2015. My family has supported me immensely through my education.

What brought you to Kirkwood and why?: I came to Kirkwood after completing my Bachelor’s in Business/Management at Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa (Class of 2014). I knew that I wanted to pursue pastry right away in high school, but I wanted the four year college experience first. I am very grateful for the experiences I had at Luther because they prepared me to excel once I entered the pastry program here at Kirkwood. I think I had a greater level of focus and drive to do my best everyday because my passion for pastry grew even more during my four years of study at Luther. I looked at several schools with pastry programs, but I chose Kirkwood because I had heard stellar reviews from several chefs and friends and family. Ultimately, I wanted to study at Kirkwood because when I visited, I could tell there was a strong sense of community that I knew I could feel comfortable in. The faculty and staff care about my success.

What is your program of study and what interests you about it?: I studied Baking and Pastry Arts (Class of 2015). I am most interested in the way science and art coexist to make something wonderful. There are base formulas for everything in pastry and, as long as the guidelines of the base are followed, the dessert can be transformed into something unique. For example, pastry cream (a form of pudding) is a standard pastry element that is used to fill desserts such as fruit tarts and cream puffs. Pastry cream is made with equal parts egg and sugar, three parts whole milk, and one third part corn starch. Any flavor can be added to this base. For an alumni event, my group made cream puffs with lavender, green tea, and guava flavored pastry cream. I want to continue to exercise my creativity with pairing flavors to make exciting desserts.

You recently won a competition. Can you tell us a little bit more about it?: I competed in the Student sixth annual Riverside Culinary Classic on April 19 at the Riverside Casino in Riverside, Iowa. Competitors could enter seven professional categories (soup, salad, beef, pork, duck, seafood, dessert) or the Student category (limited to seafood, beef, pork, and dessert). The student competitors were required to produce a five plate display and all competitors must produce 200 sample portions. I made an Opera cake with pistachio sponge cake, orange flavored French buttercream and chocolate ganache; Lavender caramel sauce; Mascarpone mousse; and a chocolate butterfly. I won the gold medal for the Student category. The gold medalists across all categories are eligible for “Best in Show” and I was the runner up overall. It was a challenging day and a very humbling experience. The day exceeded my expectations and gave me confidence to continue to work hard.

What do you do for fun?: Besides baking, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends, ballroom/swing dancing, singing, watching movies, traveling, and reading. I also work at Grinnell College in catering.

Where do you see yourself in five years?: In five years I hope to be working in a four or five star hotel and becoming a certified pastry chef. If nothing else, I want to be happy doing what I am passionate about.