An Executive Pastry Chef Leaving Her Imprint
Why She's a Tastemaker: At only 35 years old, Summer Schott has risen among the ranks of Columbus' most well-known culinary group, Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, to lead the organization's pastry program. She oversees pastry offerings at more than 30 Cameron Mitchell restaurants in 12 states, developing menus for new eateries, crafting seasonal desserts and training the organization's multitude of bakers. This work reaches throngs of restaurant patrons each year who relish elevated versions of tiramisu, carrot cake and chocolate mousse, all perfected under Schott's watchful eye. Schott added to her resume last December as a member of the elite CMR team invited to cook at the renowned James Beard House.
Creative Outlet: Schott learned to bake alongside her grandmother. “She was a terrible cook,” Schott says with a smile, “but a wonderful baker.” Schott found a creative outlet in baking. In high school, she enrolled in the culinary program at a local vocational school as a way to pursue her artistic interests. “I got really into cake decorating,” she says. After completing a pastry arts program at the International Culinary Arts and Sciences Institute and a culinary degree at Columbus State Community College, Schott worked in several Central Ohio eateries before finding her home at CMR in 2005.
A Teacher at Heart: “I always wanted to be a teacher,” Schott reflects. “I ended up being a teacher just in a very different way.” Though she spends a significant amount of time in the Cameron Mitchell test kitchen, her favorite part of the job is the hours spent teaching pastry teams in CMR's kitchens. “I like to make sure the bakers feel appreciated. I like to learn who they are,” she says. Not only do Schott and her bakers perfect existing recipes, but they work on developing new dessert concepts, which may make it on a menu or may end up as a new skill in a baker's repertoire. When not in the kitchen, Schott can be found perusing cookbooks at the library, reading food blogs or embarking on culinary road trips to keep updated on the newest techniques and trends.
Reading the Culinary Tea Leaves: Schott is enthusiastic about what's on the horizon for Columbus' food scene. Her employer's recent announcement of a $2.5 million pledge toward the creation of a $33 million Culinary Arts building at Columbus State drives her enthusiasm. “The expansion could put us on the map as a city to come to for culinary education. That is really exciting,” she says. Schott is also jazzed about the launch of several food hall concepts in Columbus in 2018, including the Budd Dairy Food Hall operated by CMR. In the dessert realm, she anticipates bold, entertaining experiments in 2018. “This year we are going to see a lot of color come into desserts,” Schott says. “There are fun things going on with mirror glaze, as well as some different plays on flavor such as savory elements.”