After graduating from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and working in the software industry, Buchanan High alum Eunice Giarta returned to school part-time to pursue her true passion – baking and pastry arts.
The Clovis native returned to school in large part to the 2017 Stacy’s Rise Project. As one of four Rise Project recipients, Giarta was awarded a $10,000 scholarship to attend the acclaimed International Culinary Center’s Culinary Entrepreneurship program in New York City, an intense 7-8 week course focused on the ins and outs of starting a food-centered business.
Having already graduated from ICC’s Professional Pastry Arts program, she looked to further her education and enrolled in the school’s Entrepreneurship program, which she completed in the fall.
“I was in shock actually because I was not expecting it at all,” Giarta said of receiving the scholarship. “I enrolled in the International Culinary Center’s Professional Pastry Program a little over a year ago and I finished in May. Upon completion of the program, I anticipated to then enroll in the Entrepreneurship program. I kind of had my eyes set on thinking about a future business opportunity but I was unsure on how I would be able to fund tuition and what that would look like.
“So, as I was looking into enrolling, the Stacy’s Rise Project popped up and I thought to myself, ‘This might be a really good opportunity’ because it sounds like something I would really appreciate, both from a support standpoint as well as mentorship. So, I was extremely excited when I found out I got the scholarship.”
Started by Stacy’s Pita Chips founder, Stacy Madison, Stacy’s Rise Project empowers women to chase a career in the culinary arts with the hopes of someday forming their own business, since the number of females in the industry is lower compared to males.
“I would say that I surprised myself in how much I was able to pick up and learn,’’ Giarta said of her culinary school experience. “For the pastry program, for example, I dabbled around in the kitchen making treats here and there for friends and family. But I was very hesitant about making more of the intricate-style pastries and cakes. And having gone to school in the pastry program, I realized that I was actually able to tackle these more technically challenging recipes and I ended up actually graduating top of class, so that was pretty cool and it kind of reinforced belief in myself in pursuing this future business.”
It wasn’t until after graduating from college and getting settled into her full-time job that Giarta realized she wanted to pursue her passion for baking and pastry arts. Friends and family also played a role in helping Giarta realize her dream.
“My passion for pastries started growing after college as I was working full time,” she said. “I did feel that I was burnt out at work and I needed to find a release in a different capacity and so I found myself baking in the kitchen a lot. I found that it was really relaxing in some ways but also motivating because when I would share the things that I made, everyone would be like, ‘Oh, wow, this is really good. You should open a bakery.’ And all of these ideas, I think, have helped transpire the path to where I’m headed now.”
As a young entrepreneur, Giarta’s business concept is to bring her bi-coastal experiences to middle America, where she’ll introduce fusion flavors of her Chinese- and Indonesian-American heritage in Chicago.
“It’s definitely a future dream of mine to open a dessert bar,” Giarta said. “While I love to cook at home, I think my real passion is making something sweet and delicious that can be shared among friends, family and everyone that I can reach.”