Joliet Junior College culinary arts student Johanna Wyss has advanced her pastry skills in a way that very few other students have – by competing and winning first place in a professional Pastry Live competition this August.
The Gardner resident, who first became interested in cake decorating after exploring her love of art and makeup design, said she spent between five and 20 hours each week practicing for the competition. Her design, called the Toy Maker, was inspired by a trip she took through JJC’s study abroad program to Japan this summer.
“When I was studying abroad in Japan, I had the opportunity to spend time with a host family,” she said. “They had a collection of small plush toys, and since the theme of the competition was toys, I decided to replicate one of them into a pastry design.”
Wyss won in the sculpted cake category. Even though she worked on her showpiece for many hours before the competition deadline, she said she was surprised when she found out she won first place.
“It was a complete surprise to me, but I couldn’t have made it without the help of Chef Andy Chlebana. I will never forget his overall advice and his tips on how to travel with your showpiece and how to protect it,” she said.
“Johanna did a great job on her cake. Her interpretation of the theme was unique, which I told her would surely set her apart from the other competitors,” Chlebana said. “It is a pleasure to see Johanna continue to challenge herself. Not only did she win, but she was a student competing in a professional category, and I am proud of all she accomplished.”
Wyss’s future plans include graduating from JJC’s culinary arts program this December. She wants to continue competing and wants to become a cake artist.
For more information about JJC’s Culinary Arts Department, visit www.jjc.edu/culinary-arts or call 815-280-2255.