Culinary arts instructor bakes her way to state honor

By Josh Robertson/se news editor

SE culinary arts instructor Alison Hodges
SE culinary arts instructor Alison Hodges will now move on to compete in the regional competition.

SE culinary arts instructor Alison Hodges loves baking.

“I decided that I’d go back to school because you know I’ve always loved to bake, and so I took a couple baking classes and fell in love with it,” she said.

Earlier this month, Hodges was named the state Pastry Chef of the Year at the Texas Chefs Association convention in Corpus Christi.

“I am so overwhelmed at this point, I cannot tell you,” Hodges said about winning the award. “I am very honored by the fact that they chose me, but it’s a little intimidating.”

Hodges will now move on to compete in the regional competition, where she’ll have to create a hot dessert, an area that she said is not her specialty.

“Every chef has something that they feel comfortable with, and I feel comfortable with breads, and I feel comfortable with centerpieces and cookies, but I don’t feel comfortable doing a hot dessert in 60 minutes and doing an elaborate plate presentation,” she said.

Hodges said she’ll practice every week until the semester is over. Originally, the regionals were going to be in the Houston area, but with Hurricane Harvey things had to be re-arranged, she said.

She has many friends and family in the area where the storm occurred, so she is worried. One family member is down there along with his three daughters and will need relocating.

“I offered a bedroom if they need it,” she said.

Even with her success, Hodges said being a chef wasn’t her first goal. In fact, she admits that she wasn’t that good of a student.

“I skipped a lot of high school, and I had a counselor say, ‘Oh, you’ll never be a teacher,’” she said. “And I went on with my life and got married to my husband.”

But now, Hodges mixes her love for cooking and being in the kitchen to help inspire her students. She wants them to feel comfortable in their working environment.

Being a pastry chef isn’t just her job, she says it’s what she was born to do.

“I definitely plan things better, but being a chef/instructor has added more patience to me,” she said. “I’m just like a mom sometimes. If you’re doing a bad thing, I tell you and try to help you fix it.”