I am originally from Detroit, Michigan. I have been baking and decorating cakes, cookies and cupcakes since the age of 10.
It all started when a girlfriend of mine invited our Girl Scout troop to have a decorating party at her family’s bakery. They invited the local paper to cover this little event and my photo ended up in the paper, smiling face covered in buttercream. Cupcakes AND fame? I was hooked.
I then baked and decorated for years for family, friends and myself. Also during these formative years, I became enamored with performing. I had taken tap and jazz lessons from the age of 5 and was always corralling the neighborhood kids to put on a talent show, or a costume show—some kind of show. I discovered I had a really good singing voice in High School and decided I would become a professional actor in musical theatre.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Wayne State University on a four-year, full-tuition academic scholarship. Upon graduation I went on a national tour of a musical version of The Wizard of Oz and spent an entire year singing—and eating goodies—all across the United States. The tour spent 2 full weeks in Chicago and I fell in love! When the tour ended, I moved here to pursue a career in musical theatre and to immerse myself in the amazing culture of music and food in Chicago.
I worked steadily in Chicago area theatres for quite a few years, taught theatre to Junior High School kids at a local conservatory and directed a few children’s shows. Eventually my interest in theatre waned and my passion for food took over. Along the way, I married, had two lovely daughters (Madeline and Julia) and put the theatrical career aside to be a full-time Mom.
Motherhood has its surprises… Madeline, my oldest daughter, contracted Leukemia just before her 3rd birthday. Don’t panic--She is fine. However, living through the 26 months of chemotherapy coupled with the ancillary stress on one’s life and family changed me. I was different. I underwent a major, unconscious personal paradigm shift; I realized just how precious and fleeting time is and the pursuit of joy in whatever time one has is paramount. When it was time to return to the workforce, I decided I would pursue a career in pastry.
I graduated from The French Pastry School in Chicago and trained with some of the world's most elite pastry masters and celebrated American chefs in the fine art of pastries, desserts and confections. I have since gained experience at many top-rated Chicago area bakeries, clubs and restaurants including the critically acclaimed TRU and Zealous, Sweet Mandy B’s Bakery and the exclusive Westmoreland Country Club. Most notably, I was the opening Executive Pastry Chef at Seven Lions where I created “one of the most fun dessert menus (we've encountered) in recent memory” (Kailley Lindman, Tasting Table, 3-3-15) and “the best dish (I had) at Seven Lions, if not the best dessert (I’ve had) this year.” (ref. Breakfast Cereal Bowl, Amy Cavanaugh, Time Out Chicago 3-27-15) Most recently, I was the Pastry Chef at Onward Chicago: an upstart, fun, upscale restaurant in Rogers Park. Unfortunately, Onward fell to the effects of Covid-19 like so many other great Chicago eateries.
I have been a professional Pastry Chef now for 14 years. I love what I do. The hours are long, the work is demanding, I work holidays and weekends and the pay is, well, let’s just say it could be a heck of a lot better (just like theatre!). I still love it and still feel the sacrifices are worth it. I have spent many years now developing desserts and treats that I think are tasty and beautiful. As on stage, one’s best work is when you can imbue your personality, humor, wit and style into it. When you can then share that work--something that is truly yours, that reflects you--with an appreciative audience, it is an incredibly rewarding and inspirational experience. That is why Diva Chocolates & Confections exists and why I am hoping to share my Divalicious “over the top” Diva goodies with you. And who knows? Ask nicely and I may even sing!