The Louisville Jewish Federation took it upon themselves to reach out to Chef Paula Shoyer, Parisian-trained baker extraordinaire. Here is to female empowerment for a lawyer-turned-pastry chef who created a market for kosher baking where it once was just thought of as an impossible pipe dream. Since November, Shoyer has sold over 16,000 copies of The Kosher Baker and The Kosher Holiday Baker. Take this as yet another example that it is never too late to transform your life. As part of The Uniquely Jewish Event Series, Shoyer taught us some of her secrets and life lessons at The Wine Studio, “feeling a little bit like Katy Perry” for her first sold-out event. During her stay here, I had a chance to interview this charismatic chef who is a class act example for pursuing dreams.
Meet Chef Paula Shoyer, on the right.
Louisville.com: On your website, you describe your culinary style as "A new direction in Kosher food and desserts." What do you hope to achieve with each creation? What direction do you seek to lead?
Paula Shoyer: I am trying to improve the quality of kosher desserts from home bakers to bakeries to caterers and restaurants. Many places are still serving the same desserts I ate as a child. There are delicious parve desserts in many places, just not everywhere yet. I want to change the culture so we go back to from scratch-artisan baking in our community.
This carrot cake even had me as a fan, and I am not typically crazy about carrot cake unless it is top-notch.
Lou.com: You received your diploma from a Paris culinary school. How did learning the art of making pastries in the city of Paris influence you?
PS: Paris remains my primary baking influence to this day and I go every few years to see what the new trends are and then bring that back to the Jewish community.
Lou.com: You originally started off as a lawyer and speechwriter. Was baking always a passion in the background? What made you decide that this was what you ultimately wanted to do?
PS: I have loved baking since my Easy Bake oven when I was five and my grandmother was an amazing baker. It just never occurred to me that it could be a real profession until I was older. I went to pastry school for fun, not looking to change careers, but that led to catering... Then teaching then editing then writing books... Now two books and number three in progress. Freelance writing, teaching around the world, and who knows what next.
Chef Paula Shoyer owns and runs Paula's Parisian Pastries Cooking School in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Lou.com: In your "kosher baking revolution," what are some of your favorite pastries you have made over the years?
PS: Chocolate mousse meringue layer cake from The Kosher Baker. Salted Caramel Banana Tart Tatin and Florentine Bars from The Holiday Kosher Baker. I love making French macaroons of all flavors and colors.
Fruit Pie Bars
Harriet Behr and Rhonda Reskin enjoying the event.
Westport Whiskey and Wine. I loved the lively flavor of the sweet sparkling Moscato.
Michelle Ellisburg of Hadassah sampling some of the tasty appetizers.
Susan Waterman, Stephanie Mutchnik, and Amy Benovitz were also excited to be a part of this Passover event.
Sold-out event filled with people ready to learn from Chef Paula Shoyer.
Linda Spielberg and Linda Schuster, chairs of the event.
Chef Paula Shoyer believes in "just good desserts. Don't believe something should just be good enough for Passover." And the same concept applies to gluten-free creations, of which Shoyer has over 37 recipes. She infuses the traditional with a new contemporary twist. Shoyer said we "bake to celebrate, to comfort, for all of the occasions of [our] lives." With whatever limitations may come our way, who says we have to expect anything less than the best? "Never settle for anything bad."
Life is meant to be rejoiced. Savor it like great dessert, one mouth-watering morsel at a time.