SOUTH WHITLEY — Twenty-two-year-old Laura Kessie, a current manager at the Brownstone in South Whitley, recently returned from a 20-month cooking experience in Germany.
“I enjoyed the experience itself, and being able to live in an entirely different culture and see how they do things half way around the world,” said Kessie.
Kessie first began working at the Brownstone when she was a 17-year-old junior in high school.
“I was doing a little bit everything like making drinks in the morning, working in the bakery, washing dishes, scrubbing floors and helping the kitchen,” said Kessie.
After Kessie graduated from high school in 2008, she went to Sullivan, a culinary school in Louisville, Kentucky.
While there, the experience prepared her for life and working in a commercial kitchen.
“It was a very career-oriented university so you didn’t just have your cooking classes, but you learned sanitation and nutrition and management skills,” said Kessie.
To attain her Associates in Culinary Arts, Catering and a personal chef’s certificate, Kessie had to complete internships.
She worked at the Brown Hotel, while still in school, eventually working her way to a pantry and pastry station in upscale dinning options at the English Grill.
After 21 months of education, a recruiting officer from Adelvice Lodge and Resort, located in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, came to Sullivan with a career opportunity.
“I thought I’d never get the opportunity to go overseas any other time, so I’ll just go, and it was great,” said Kessie.
Kessie said the resort was a conference center and an R&R facility hotel for military members and their families.
Included in the resort were three different restaurants and a snack bar. The operation was both large and standardized.
She began working in a buffet restaurant on a breakfast shift.
“I made a lot of omelets,” said Kessie.
She also worked in upscale dinning as well as the bar kitchen.
“There I made pizzas, burgers and comfort American foods you can’t usually find over there,” said Kessie.
In culinary school, Kessie learned about different international foods, but she did not know any German.
“I picked up a little bit of German, mostly foods,” said Kessie. “A lot of produce we had would come in and have German labels on it.”
While Kessie admits she is still rusty on her German, she was grateful that most everyone spoke English, especially the younger generation.
“That made it a lot easier,” said Kessie.
The position at the resort was contracted, and while Kessie was asked to stay on, she decided to return home.
Mike and Kim Balser, the owners of Brownstone, are happy to have Kessie in the kitchen, as well as the many other people they employ.
“It’s a team effort,” said Kim.
While Kessie is getting back into the swing of things, she said she will never forget her experience in Germany or her joy of food.
“It was cool to go from learning about international food and customs to actually experiencing it,” said Kessie.