It all began with an Easy Bake Oven and batter puffed to all its glory under the heat of a light bulb. From an early age, Jenny had her hand in whatever her mother was baking; the smells and flavors coming out of Mama Bergin’s kitchen in small town West Virginia were legendary. But what truly fascinated Jenny were the beautiful bakery cakes that her mother absolutely refused to buy -“Cheap ingredients, no taste!” That all changed with a school trip to Paris at the age of 12 where it became evident to the young chef that bakery goods could indeed be beautiful and delicious.
The journey continued as Jenny experimented with the tastes and inspirations she encountered while living overseas. Deciding to put some culinary “oompf” under her belt, she graduated from the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, then interned in one of the most successful bakeries in Paris, “Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Lohezic.” Upon her arrival in Charlottesville, Jenny worked at the Boar’s Head Inn, but soon decided to pursue her pastry dreams by working on her own and returning to work in her other life long passion – health and fitness!! (Hence, the pardox.)
While personal training, Jenny began practicing on and plying her colleagues with baked goods while taking special orders from her home kitchen. As demand increased, she realized that in order to increase production levels, she’d need bigger equipment and another “body” (Enter stage left: Maureen). With an empty basement in her house, Jenny found it relatively easy, but not cheap – Oy! – to start expanding. Adding a double stack convection oven, refrigeration, and a commercial mixer over the next several years fueled the realization of a dream. As bigger, better and more complex cakes and desserts readily emerged with the lightened load of no longer having to run three, small Kitchen Aid mixers through two cycles each just to frost and fill one wedding cake, the business pushed forward.
As the baking continued in the new home bakery, the lifelong dream pushed forward, relentlessly nipping at her heels. The vision wasn’t just to create incredible pastries, working in isolation and trying to earn a living, but rather to openly share in the good smells, conviviality and love that baking brings to us. Quite honestly, a public version of her mom’s kitchen.
Maureen embraces all that Charlottesville offers in the way of fresh, unique and delectable local fare. As a little girl, she enjoyed making cinnamon rolls, sugar cookies, and birthday cakes, but her passion for culinary creativity blossomed as an adult. Maureen reveled in her life as an Army wife embracing any excuse to bake and entertain.
While she enjoyed her career in the financial planning arena, she soon began to realize that planning the menu for the office Open House and other events was much more exciting than crunching numbers! Leaving the world of 9-5 behind, she took time off to raise her daughters which led to extensive school and community volunteer service that revolved almost entirely around food.
At the urging of friends and family, she began to explore the idea of turning her culinary prowess into a new profession. Her experience as a Pastry Assistant at The Silver Thatch Inn provided a solid practical foundation and gave her an appreciation for the intricacies of operating in a historic Bed and Breakfast. Working with Jenny Peterson at her home-based Paradox Pastry business opened a whole new world of studio cake creation and connections into the local wedding and event planning industry.
Maureen’s part time work in the Tasting Room of Keswick Vineyards affords her the opportunity to learn about the fascinating art of wine-making and has piqued her creative imagination for food-wine pairings. With her completion of the Professional Chocolatier Program by Ecole Chocolat of Vancouver, British Columbia, she has added the chocolate dimension to her portfolio.
Maureen is now poised and ready for her exciting new role as Manager of Paradox Pastry Bakery and Dessert Café, where decadent desserts and other culinary creations will highlight the best of the Charlottesville food scene.