: | The French Pastry School


Jamaican Pâtissier For L’Hommage Bistro Français, Mount Vernon
Jamaica Observer |
September 1, 2015

Jamaica Observer Table Talk Food Awards 2005/2006 Dessert/Pastry Chef Of The year recipient Nicole Shirley has been quietly advancing her skills as a chef pâtissier in Chicago.

She graduated from The French Pastry School with L'Art de la Pâtisserie (a professional baking and pastry certification) in 2013 and relocated to Washington, DC, where she will next month commence work at L'Hommage Bistro Français in the Mount Vernon Triangle. The restaurant and bakery, according to a recent feature by Rebecca Cooper in the Washington Business Journal, will feature breads made in-house as well as desserts from pastry chef Nicole Shirley.

The 6,361-square-foot space at 450 K Street NW establishment is owned by Hakan Ilhan, who operates Alba Osteria at 425 Eye St NW. The 220-seat restaurant will include two private dining rooms that can be combined to seat 120.

The concept will have a menu similar to Bistro Atelier, the French restaurant that Ilhan opened recently in Dulles International Airport, but with higher-end finishes, including a good deal of millwork. Ilhan expects to spend about $2 million to build out the space.

It's all very exciting for Shirley. With just five weeks to go before opening she is in frenetic mode, working with the rest of the team to make the deadline.

"It's a very exciting time for me," said Shirley in a recent telephone conversation... "I left Jamaica in 2013 to further my studies in the art of baking with a plan to gain more experience in French cuisine and French pastry production, chocolate work and to build my résumé".

Shirley, it's worth noting, was already armed with a BSc in Hospitality Management, and an MBA, as well as certification from The Culinary Institute of America and The Wilton School of Cake Decorating.

Finding Chicago much too cold and having achieved her goal, the job search had commenced. "I saw the job posted online," Shirley shared with Thursday Life and applied, "I had three interviews including a tasting."

In DC -- a highly competitive much sought after culinary destination, Shirley cites her 13 years of baking and pastry experience, owning and operating a bakery as well as her recent training at The French Pastry School as her competitive advantage.

Crème brûlée is her favourite dessert "because it is classic and oh so French".

Along with her highly qualified team Shirley will be presenting at L'Hommage Bistro "all the classics with a modern twist in the plating and presentation".

Thursday Life congratulates Shirley and is as proud as her parents Jack and Audrey Shirley.