Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gals We Admire: Rebekah Pearse

She may have packed up her knives and left the Top Chef Canada kitchen early in the competition, but Rebekah Pearse is now kicking culinary butt as resident Pastry Chef at a well-established winery in B.C.'s Okanagan Valley.
Name: Rebekah Pearse
Profession: Pastry Chef / Professional Bon Vivant

Twitter handle: @RebekahPearse

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
I wake up, ride my bike up a mountain to my job at a winery. I fire up the brick oven, feed my sourdough starter, then give my team instructions on how to start their day. I often meet with my colleagues to respond to their feedback, and plan upcoming events and menu changes. I work hands-on with my team to produce breads, desserts, baked goods, chocolates and other sweets.

After the production day is finished, I might stick around to coordinate a catering event, or spend some time at the computer creating recipes, food costing, or other administrative work. I feed the sourdough starter again before biking home, a much easier ride than on the way up! Once home, I work on one or more of my work-in-progress cookbooks while I make myself dinner, then roll into bed to do it all over again the next day!

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist specializing in sharks. Later, I thought I would enjoy doing forensic sciences. It wasn’t until I was in university that I realized that I wanted to be in the hospitality industry.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I feel the most fulfilled when I get to see people enjoy the food I made for them, and when I get to inspire and develop people who are in the early stages of their careers.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
The reality of the industry sometimes fails to live up to the expectations of the people who work in it. Hospitality can be very demanding, with long hours, unusual schedules and limited opportunities for creativity. It can be hard to balance the desire to develop people with the need to just get the job done!

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
I do. I feel very lucky to have figured out the right industry for myself at the young age of 18.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Being a woman in a male-dominated industry isn’t something you have to overcome, it’s something you have to offer. The unique perspective you bring to the table has value!

Create a long-term goal for your life, but never expect anything to be handed to you. Educate yourself and work toward it relentlessly.

Failure is just another word for learning. It’s okay to take risks!


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