Julia Child once said, “Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” Meredith Dawley, an International Baking & Pastry student at Lincoln Culinary Institute in Shelton, CT, personifies this sentiment.
Growing up, Meredith loved to create inventive menus for her family based on “Chopped”-like challenges she gave herself. After being told that females aren’t very successful in the culinary industry, she switched paths to pursue a degree in Communications. In her first semester, she quickly realized this wasn’t a path that would make her happy – and she decided to immerse herself completely in the culinary field, enrolling at Lincoln Culinary Institute.
Meredith fell in love with the program and her passion for culinary was reignited. “I knew after my first couple of days in the kitchen, that this is where I could spend my whole life,” she says. The atmosphere and instructors prepared her for her next challenge: landing one of the coveted externships at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Her supervisors at Disney were so impressed that after only five and a half months, Meredith was offered a position. “At that point, [however,] I hadn’t seen enough to make a full decision on what type of chef I wanted to become,” she says. “But I knew that I wanted to be well-versed in every aspect of the culinary world.”
Trusting Her Instincts
She returned to Lincoln Culinary to continue her education in the International Baking & Pastry program. When the time came for Meredith to pursue her next externship, she decided to take a bold leap. “To truly learn the craft of working with pastries and sweets,” Meredith explains. “I needed to go where that was their specialty.”
With help from Lincoln Culinary’s Center for International Career Development, Meredith focused her efforts on externships in France. With only about 50 positions available, she was hand-selected by Michelin star-awarded Chef Nicholas Rondelli to work in the French Riviera at the Cap D’Antibes Beach Hotel. She traveled to France at the end of April and is on her way to becoming a force in the culinary and baking scene!
Meredith’s Advice For Others
Having come this far, Meredith has some insightful tips for future students. “You have to know yourself,” she says. “Know what you want, but if you do not know what that is, grab a portion of your passion and run with it. This is an industry where you will push yourself mentally and physically. You must have the passion to fuel yourself.”
Becoming a successful chef, she adds, takes two main ingredients: “training to build skills, and experience. Lincoln Culinary Institute offered me both.”
Lincoln Tech is excited to see Meredith go far in her field, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for her when she returns from overseas!