Laura Owen

Anyone who has watched a show like “The Great British Bake Off” or “Cake Boss” has probably thought to themselves, “Those cakes (or cookies or pastries) are works of art. They look too good to eat.” A baker who hopes to make creations worthy of a fancy bakery or pastry shop must have some artistic flair. OTC student Laura Owens brought her creative attributes to OTC when she enrolled in the fall of 2019.

“I knew I was going to OTC to use my A-plus scholarship,” Owens said. “My original plan was to eventually transfer to a four-year college where I could study fine arts.”

However, by her senior year at Kickapoo High School, the aspiring painter said she had lost some of her enthusiasm for fine arts. She had baked for her friends and teachers, but, “It never really clicked with me that, ‘Hey, you could do this for your job.’”

After trying out a few culinary classes, Owens realized she’d found her passion and loved being in the kitchen. It’s good she loves the kitchen because, this summer, she’ll spend eleven weeks at an internship at Nathaniel Reid Bakery in St. Louis – named the best bakery in Missouri by the website “Mashed.”

The article in “Mashed” describes Reid’s bakery in glowing terms, “Visitors will find an array of stunning pastries, macarons, and meringues, along with the croissants that fans refer to as ‘next level’ and cakes that might bring tears to your eyes.”

OTC Culinary Instructor Daniel Pliska introduced Laura to the bakery, and, through that contact, she was able to secure the internship. Throughout her eleven-week apprenticeship, she’ll get to experience all aspects of the restaurant. Besides the bakery, Nathaniel Reid’s also creates savory dishes such as sandwiches, salads and quiches.

Laura credits OTC’s small class sizes and a genuine desire among instructors to see their students succeed with her opportunity to learn at the prestigious bakery.

“You really get a personal connection at OTC,” Laura said. “At a bigger college, I wouldn’t get the opportunity I’m going to have this summer, so I appreciate the culinary department.”

Laura plans to finish up her OTC career this fall when she’ll graduate with an associate degree in culinary and hospitality and a certificate in baking. For now, she doesn’t have plans to own a restaurant or bakery, but she definitely has ambition.

“I’d like to be one of the top chefs at a famous bakery or a fancy resort,” Laura said. “If I can make a lot of beautiful things for people who are willing to pay for it – I’d like that.”