Alyssa Ulrich – Francis Tuttle Technology Center, FCCLA and SkillsUSA
Pastry chef discovers a recipe for career success at Francis Tuttle.
THEN: An aspiring pastry chef before she was old enough to drive. When Alyssa Ulrich complained to her family that she was wasting time on homework she knew she would never use as a baker, her sister-in-law told her about Francis Tuttle Technology Center’s culinary arts program.
“As soon as I saw images of Francis Tuttle’s kitchens and heard stories of their famous Swedish baker,” she said, “I made an appointment the very next day to try to get enrolled in the coming school year.”
Ulrich participated in two CareerTech student organizations, winning state and national titles in cooking competitions sponsored by both FCCLA and SkillsUSA.
She had completed the culinary program by the time she graduated high school and followed up with a three-month internship. Despite her passion, Ulrich said, she realized after she enrolled how little she knew about cooking. In addition to receiving “a phenomenal and comprehensive” cooking education, Ulrich said, she also
- Learned about the power of a first or single impression and to treat every introduction as if it were an interview.
- Developed problem-solving skills that allow her to work smarter, rather than harder.
- Gained an understanding of the importance of continuous learning.
- Strengthened her teamwork and communication skills.
- Received her ServSafe certification, which she said gives an applicant a higher chance of getting a job or starting at a higher pay rate.
“My teachers were tough and realistic,” she said, adding that she had a better understanding of what a kitchen would be like.
“I walked into a kitchen with realistic expectations of long, hard shifts and never settling for good instead of great,” she said. “Every job I have ever had or been offered, I can trace in some way back to my culinary school.”
Ulrich uses her cooking skills every day in her profession, but when she’s not at work she is usually baking at home or thinking of something new she can make.
NOW: A pastry chef for The Hall’s Pizza Kitchen for the past three and a half years, Ulrich will soon manage the pastry and lamination side of the new Harvey Bakery and Kitchen in Oklahoma City.
Five years after high school graduation, Ulrich said, most of her peers are either recent college grads or about to graduate.
“They are still figuring out what they want to do and are now deeply in debt. No, I didn’t go to a formal college post CareerTech, but I am further along in my career than most of my peers. I’m able to work in a career I love and not have student loan debt looming over me for the foreseeable future. I can’t imagine doing anything else for the rest of my life,” she said.
Ulrich said she would like to become a certified master baker.
“I love being challenged and pushed to be better and think differently.”Alyssa Ulrich, pastry chef