If there’s one thing most people can agree on it’s this: food creates community. Bringing people together is key to both the human-focused project here at The Park and my love and excitement for all things culinary.
I first recognized the power of food when I was a child. Among my fondest memories are those of my mother and I cooking dinner and homemade desserts together in the kitchen. Food also brought together our extended family, as there wasn’t a birthday or holiday that went by without everyone gathering over a dessert made from scratch. As I got older, that love of being in the kitchen really took root; I began to notice the selfless happiness that washes over someone’s expression as they bite into food made with care and attention — doubly so if it’s dessert!
It was those foundational memories and moments of joy that made a career around food an inevitability. My formal training began at The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, where I worked alongside the world’s best chocolatiers during the NYC Chocolate Show. After graduating I spent four years at a New Jersey bakery to refine my skills and learn the art of recipe development. While here, I participated in the New Jersey Wine and Food festival and hosted dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan, both of which allowed me to see how my work in the kitchen could bring together even larger and more diverse groups of diners. Later, I returned to New York City and became the pastry chef at Dean and Deluca where I created the pastry line for their signature brand, which was sold in stores throughout New York and on their online catalog.
Being immersed in the New York culinary scene intensified my passion and led me to experiment with new and exciting flavors and textures. As catering grew within Dean and Deluca, I focused on menu development for each occasion, devising desserts for business meetings, high-end social events, holidays parties and other events. This level of scale enabled me to bring my vision of joy and excitement to more people than ever. Now, with The Park’s hospitality-focused mission to create a space for health, community, and innovation, I’ve found a home where the delight that comes from a carefully crafted dessert can be shared with an even broader community.
I look forward to building on the Connell family’s vision to deliver to Berkeley Heights joy-filled desserts that complement The Park’s fresh, healthy options — whether our guests are sitting down at one of our fine dining experiences or picking up a prepared meal to take home with them.