Garnet Valley Alum, Jordan Pilarski, Wins Spring Baking Championship

Jordan Pilarski, a Garnet Valley alum, baked with creativity, under a tough time constraint, to win the Spring Baking Championship. His love for baking and flawless techniques landed him the title of the Spring Baking Champion and a prize of $50,000. The finale episode aired April 9th at 10:00 pm after a nail-biting sixth episode.

“Overall, I think the four years of college combined with two internships, when I studied abroad, and being a student-athlete, prepared me for the future,” said Jordan Pilarski.

The Spring Baking Championship is a baking reality television show designed to test the baking abilities of nine chef contestants. Whether it is the flavor or the decorations, the bakers are to incorporate different spring themes in all of their treats. The judges this season were Nancy Fuller, Duff Goldman, and Lorraine Pascale. Jesse Palmer, an ex-NFL quarterback, was the host.

After his junior year of college, Jordan began an internship at the Amelia Island Ritz Carlton. Jordan’s hard work and dedication definitely paid off and soon after college was over, he began working at the same Ritz Carlton he interned at. In an interview with Jordan, he answered questions about school, work, and Jordan Pilarski, pictured above, the Spring Baking Championship.

How did Garnet Valley High School prepare you for college? The teachers were very helpful. I really cared about my academics so going to class wasn’t that much of a hassle. Being a student-athlete, I had to have good time management, and really focus on academics as well as playing three sports.

Johnson and Wales is one of the top Culinary Arts schools in the world, at the time you knew you were going to be attending Johnson and Wales, did you ever second guess yourself? I don’t think I second guessed myself at all. I applied to one school, I applied to Johnson and Wales and that was it. I knew what I wanted to do at that moment, I knew where I wanted to go, and I don’t think I ever second guessed myself. After I got accepted, I was ready to do what I wanted to do.

What are some highlights from your college career? The highlights, you know, besides baking and being a student-athlete for four years, was being on a Division II baseball team. That was a pretty big highlight. But other than that, studying abroad in France was a breathtaking experience. I took everything I could, I traveled, I went to London, and I was also going to school in a little town. Living that life for three months was the best experience of my life besides winning the Spring Baking Championship. But other than that, I won best overall when I was in France so that was a cool accomplishment. Getting my internship here [Ritz Carlton] after my junior year of college at Amelia Island was another amazing highlight.

What do you think you took the most from while studying abroad in France at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure De Pâtisserie (ENSP)? The number one lesson I learned in France while studying abroad was that Paris is the capital of pastry. Learning from the chefs taught me to be precise and that what your pastries look like, should be your number one priority along with how it tastes. It’s very simple over there. The way they pull it together is absolutely perfect. In their minds, there is only one thing, that is it has to be perfect. A lot of the criticism I got while studying abroad was ‘This isn’t perfect’. I was really focusing on how everything looked and perfecting the craft of modern pastry.

What is your favorite dessert to make and/or eat? It’s funny because I’m not that much of a dessert person. My favorite dessert to eat would be tiramisu. That is my favorite dessert ever.

How is the pressure of baking at the Ritz Carlton compared to the pressure of baking on the Spring Baking Championship? The Ritz-Carlton is a busy hotel. There’s not much standing around when I go to work. There’s a lot of pressure, we’re a five-star hotel so the product that we put out needs to meet that standard, no matter what. We have clientele that comes in and expect that. Working at the Ritz helped me during the competition because I knew I had to meet the time constraints as well as getting a product out that looked to my standards as well as representing the hotel.

Now that you’ve won the Spring Baking Championship, what’s next? I’m riding the wave, I’m enjoying it and working as hard as I did before. Whatever comes along, like interviews, is fun to do. I’m taking it all in. What’s next? I guess we’ll see, we’ll see what’s next.

Do you have any advice to young bakers in high school or college? My advice is to always take risks. I didn’t know anything about baking before I went to college. I mean seriously, I knew nothing. And it’s really putting hard work and dedication into everything you do, no matter if it’s baking or whatever career path you choose. If you really enjoy what you do, working becomes easy, perfecting your craft becomes easy because you’re interested in it. I work hard, I don’t slack off and it definitely pays off. No matter how hard things seem, you’re probably gonna fail, I mean, I’ve failed multiple times. But you’re also going to succeed. Taking risks comes with a lot of rewards and that’s how I live my life.

In closing, Jordan said, “I moved from Buffalo, New York to Pennsylvania and I started going to Garnet Valley in sixth grade and Garnet Valley, it’s kind of my home now. It’s been really cool to grow up there and I would like to thank everyone who was a part of my life before I moved to college. High school, middle school, Garnet Valley, thank you. It really did set me up for success.”

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