Our very own Western Wayne Alumni Shannon Croney, class of 2013, is up to be “The Greatest Baker” in an online contest hosted by thegreatestbaker.com. The public can vote for her through Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. when the first cuts are made. Then if Shannon moves on there will be additional voting for future rounds. Vote for Shannon now at the following website https://greatestbaker.com/2022/shannon-croney?fbclid=IwAR3vNOqHjsaWwMtM3EOp2Dgyefl1OuRJAEWQ3F4MMT-UdHGg8k_lQzXReDs
The winner of the contest will be featured in Bake from Scratch Magazine and will win a 10,000 dollar prize!
Shannon is a proud Western Wayne graduate who played tuba in the marching band all throughout high school and was one of the drum majors for her junior and senior years.
Of course, in addition to her musical interests in high school, Shannon also took a number of cooking classes to foster a love of the culinary arts. She took foundation of food preparation, baking and pastry, and gourmet food with Mrs. Zoppi in high school.
“There was a lot I had learned in all three of those classes that have been helpful to me- such as whisking your lemon curd quickly to avoid scrambling the eggs or using a small bit of water on top of your cream puffs to get rid of the point,” Shannon explained. “I would say that the pastry class was definitely my favorite.”
Throughout her life, Shannon has always loved cooking in general.
“ I always watched my family in the kitchen on holidays and wanted to do anything I could to help, even if it was just putting together the vegetables,” Shannon said. “I never really found my love for baking until high school. I always make cookies and cupcakes for after school activities and for my friends. Some people would even call me the ‘cookie girl’. I decided I might want to do this as a career choice and wanted to take the pastry class offered as an elective. The only issue was, I never took the foundations class and I was already a junior- most people take it as a freshman or sophomore. I’m still so grateful that Mrs. Zoppi fit me in! “
After graduating Western Wayne in 2013, Shannon went on to
attend the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport and earned her associates degree in Baking and Pastry.
“These early labs got me ready for what it was like out in the professional world,” Shannon explained. “I took a lot of practical classes from restaurant desserts- where you create a menu and actually serve it to the public in a restaurant setting, to bake shop production, where we got up early in the morning and opened a bakery style shop and sold that to the public as well. I got to take a lot of fun classes in between like cake design, menu and facilities planning, chocolate work and sugar work as well. Most of the skills I have learned here have set me up for success in a professional setting.”
Since graduating college, Shannon has gotten to do a variety of interesting things with her degree.
“One opportunity I had in school was to work at the Kentucky Derby for the week, which was an amazing experience,” Shannon said. “After school I tried a bunch of different things to see what type of environment I liked best. It’s okay to move around- not everything is for everybody. I soon realized I don’t care for bakery work. But I do really love the restaurant travel and leisure industry. I was the pastry chef at the Lodge at Woodloch, an award winning destination spa resort right here in the Poconos for about four years. I received an opportunity to work in Wyoming at Brush Creek Ranch- another award winning resort, where I was the pastry chef and a sous chef for 6 months. That was only seasonal, but it was an absolutely amazing opportunity that I will never forget.”
Through all of her experiences in the kitchen as a professional, Shannon’s passion for her job has remained strong.
“My favorite part about baking is the creativity and the specificity of it,” Shannon explained. “Things have to be precise and rules have to be followed- or it won’t work out. Sometimes you have to try it a few times before you figure out what the rules are or what keeps going wrong. Once you figure out what those rules are though- you can do so many things, and then start figuring out ways to bend them a bit. As for the creativity aspect- I love the surprise you get from a combination of flavors sometimes. Pairings such as, passionfruit and dark chocolate, or strawberry, black pepper, and white chocolate, are things you wouldn’t normally think go together.”
As Shannon’s career progressed, she started to learn about other avenues that could help enhance her career.
“After coming home from my seasonal place in Wyoming- I came back to the Lodge at Woodloch and started learning the hospitality side of business,” Shannon explained. “I’ve learned how to properly wait tables as well as bartend now. I love working behind the bar with my pastry knowledge because it helps me put together cocktails in a fun way with new flavors with a good balance. I still get to do my pastry as well, and I also have two classes I do with our guest sommelier- crepes & grapes, and s’mores & more- which are sweets and wine/cocktail pairings.”
Shannon is so excited to be a part of “The Greatest Baker” contest and hopes to get the votes of as many members of the Western Wayne community as she can. She hopes to make her alma mater proud if she wins, and she aspires to use the prize money to help further her career.
“ I’m hoping to do a lot of traveling in my future,” Shannon said. “I’d like to travel around and work at a lot more of those seasonal resorts around the country! “
Don’t forget to vote for Western Wayne’s very own Shannon Croney by Thursday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. at the following website https://greatestbaker.com/2022/shannon-croney?fbclid=IwAR3vNOqHjsaWwMtM3EOp2Dgyefl1OuRJAEWQ3F4MMT-UdHGg8k_lQzXReDs