Ligonier woman cooks up pastry chef title
Tammy Fuchs an executive pastry chef at Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier won the northeast region pastry chef of the year competition for the American Culinary Federation. Fuchs of New Alexandria traveled to the Turing Stone Resort Casino in Verona N.Y. in March to compete with two other pastry chefs for the title and the opportunity to advance to the national level of the competition in Las Vegas July 21-25.
“This is the first time I participated in a competition this big,” said Fuchs who previously competed in three smaller events at food shows at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. “I practiced, practiced, practiced. I practiced making the dessert seven or eight times in the time allotted. When I was done with the event, I was relieved and happy with what I did.”
When the announcement was made for this year's nominees, the Laurel Highlands chapter of the culinary group knew that their nominee had to be Fuchs.
“Tammy is so dedicated to her craft, students and the chapter and a devoted mother. It is truly amazing how successful and committed she is to her career, community and family,” said Regis Holden the chapter's president. “Our chapter is very happy that she was recognized for her dedication and hard work, and brought home the title of ACF Northeast Region Pastry Chef of the Year.”
Fuchs said she participates in the competitions because they keep her skills sharp.
“It forces you to be organized and have a purpose for every movement you make.,” she said. “You can get complacent in your every day work. But, when you are judged on organization and sanitization, it makes you a lot more sharper.”
Fuchs said she was shocked when she learned she won the competition.
“The two other people's plates looked good,” she said. “Then after the critique from judges, I was a little unsure how I did.”
Fuchs said she agreed with the judges comments.
“They said the piping on the plate was not centered and the dessert was warm not hot,” she said. “You leave thinking I'm not winning.'”
Fuchs has worked at Rolling Rock Club for 15 years. She oversees a staff of three and assists the executive chef with cost controls and menu planning.
She said Robert Fasce a former executive chef at the club was her mentor.
“He was the one who got me into competing and he helped along the way with desserts,” she said about Fasce, now at the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, Ga.
She received an associate degree in baking and pastry arts from Westmoreland County Community College. She has also attended classes at The Culinary Institute of America and Carpigiani Gelato University.
She was a also a pastry arts instructor at the college and Christopher's Sweet Shop in Murrysville.
Fuchs has received several awards including the federation's Laurel Highlands chef of the year award in 2010. She also received an alumni award of excellence from the college alumni association in 2009 for outstanding career achievements.
“I don't know what else I would be doing,” she said about her career choice. “I received a scholarship from Westmoreland County Community College and picked pastry because everybody has to eat. I figured I would give it a shot.”
Fuchs praised the instructors and the program at the college.
“I like to cook and I like teaching two classes a semester at WCCC,” she said. “I get to see students make the most beautiful things. Especially after they first come in and don't even know how to measure ingredients.”
Fuchs will advance to the national competition in July in Las Vegas.
“Regional pastry chef of the year award winners must demonstrate the art of baking and pastry, and a passion to be the best in order to win the respected title of ACF national pastry chef of the year,” said Derek Spendlove an executive pastry chef and competition judge for the northeast competition. “I wish Tammy and the three other regional pastry chef of the year winners every success when competing for the national title in Las Vegas.”