Where Are They Now: PRHS graduate Hallie Gaskill serves up success as luxury hotel’s pastry chef
Some students have always known the exact path they want to take in life. For others, a teacher or new class is the one thing that sparks their interest in a career they’d never even considered before.
That’s the case for Porter Ridge High Class of 2015 graduate Hallie Gaskill, who was inspired to pursue a career in culinary arts after graduating from the Career Readiness program’s Culinary Arts Academy. Today, Hallie is a 2017 graduate of Johnson & Wales University and works as a full-time pastry chef in Charlotte.
Check out what Hallie said about how a former teacher inspired her to consider a career in culinary arts and how UCPS prepared her for the future.
On her post-graduate career: After I graduated from high school, I went to Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte and earned my associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. I actually interned at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge during my sophomore year in college, and was hired full-time as a pastry chef after my internship ended.
On how she became interested in culinary arts: I grew up watching baking shows and really liked cooking, but I never thought about doing it as a career. I was actually taking medical sciences classes in high school when I ended up being placed in a culinary class during my senior year. The culinary class completely changed what I wanted to do. Chef Elaine Templeton was a great teacher and cared about us as more than just students. She cared about us personally, made connections with everyone and even helped me figure out what I wanted to do after high school.
On how the Culinary Arts Academy prepared her for college and her career: Chef Templeton has a lot of experience in the culinary field and she really drilled that experience into us when we were still in high school. We weren’t able to make up our work if we missed a day of class, which is true in the workforce. Everything she taught us prepared us for the workplace so when I began my career I felt confident knowing that I already had that foundation.
On advice for current students: Keep an open mind and focus on what you enjoy. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the future until I took the culinary classes during my senior year. You never know when one thing can come along and change everything.
On the future: In five years, I see myself as my own pastry chef. I’d love to be in a position where I’m in charge of others, am helping other people learn and am continuing to plate desserts.