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Just desserts in future of aspiring pastry chef

October 06, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - For Erin O'Brien, there's something inspirational about a really good tiramisu.

After she graduates in 2007, she wants to turn inspiration into a career.

Working as a pastry chef is the only career that Erin, 17, has ever considered.

"The creativity of it has always inspired me," she said. "There's so much you can do with it."

Erin said when she was younger, she always stayed in the kitchen while her mother cooked.

She helped her mother bake cakes. Starting at age 2, she whisked batter, spread on icing and put sprinkles on cupcakes.

"It gave me a chance to be with her and my sister. A chance for us girls to be together," Erin said.

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Erin, the daughter of Linda and Maury O'Brien of Hagerstown, is improving her culinary skills under Chef Beverly Bonebrake at Washington County Technical High School.

Erin wants to someday open a pastry shop in New York City or Chicago and make wedding cakes, she said.

Her two years at the technical high school put her closer to that goal, she said.

"It's an amazing foundation for us to have," she said. "I think this is a fabulous program, wonderful in that it's been a great stepping stone. I wouldn't be going to any culinary school at all if it wasn't for this program," she said.

Every day, Erin and other members of her culinary arts class make lunch for the 150 students who buy their lunch at school.

"We make really nice meals," she said. On Thursday, the class served roasted vegetable baked ziti.

After she graduates, Erin said she wants to major in pastry at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.

For a year, she has worked at Chambersburg Country Club. She spends about 20 hours a week making salads, decorating desserts and assisting the chef with catered parties and weddings.

Erin said she has been a vegetarian for about four years, which can make dealing with meat difficult.

"That part of getting in touch with meat, in class we do have to, that's kind of hard," she said.

Avoiding meat is another reason she likes pastry making, she said.

"I do love cooking, all the aspects of it. But it is a harder field to be in, being a vegetarian," she said.

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