I Want To Be A… Chef

By Arkansas Next on Friday, October 21, 2022

Hannah Jobe
Paige Russell is a pastry chef at Fidel & Co. Coffee Roasters in Little Rock.

Hometown: Conway

My training: Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago 

My job: Pastry chef at Fidel & Co. Coffee Roasters in Little Rock

Paige always enjoyed baking with her family as a child. After high school, she enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Art - Chicago to complete a baking and pastry degree program and decided to stay in the city after graduation to work as a pastry cook and pastry sous chef. She moved to Los Angeles to work at various restaurants until becoming the pastry chef at Hatchet Hall. After several years working in California, she moved back to Arkansas and is now the pastry chef at Fidel & Co. Coffee Roasters, helping open its new Sterling Market location in east Little Rock. The most rewarding aspect of her job is making good, nourishing food that makes people happy. 

Twelve years into her culinary career, her favorite pastry items to make are croissants. Paige says a common misconception about pastry chefs and restaurant workers is that they have the same time off as other professionals. Instead, pastry chefs are often working during holidays and weekends while other professionals in many different fields have these days off. “I think a lot of people don't understand how physical it is,” Paige said. 

She wouldn’t change anything about the path that has brought her to where she is today. Paige encourages those also interested in pursuing a career as a pastry chef to explore the culinary world to its fullest. “...travel, read a lot of cookbooks and work in restaurants before deciding whether to attend culinary school.” 

Cooking Up a Great Career as a CHEF

► Education required: While no higher education is required, a culinary certificate or degree from a culinary program or school is highly valuable for a career as a chef or pastry chef.

► 13% projected job growth for chefs in Arkansas by 2028

► 90 projected job openings for chefs each year in Arkansas

► Median annual wage for chefs & head cooks: $42,860

Source: Above stats and salary data on this page from careeronestop.org

3 Culinary Programs in Arkansas

  1. Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management Institute at University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
  2. Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food at NorthWest Arkansas Community College
  3. Arkansas Tech University (Culinary Arts program at the Arkansas Tech Career Center)

Where to Major in Culinary Arts

  • Arkansas State University-Newport
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • University of Arkansas - Cossatot Community College De Queen Campus
  • Ozarka College
  • South Arkansas Community College
  • Texarkana College
  • More Cool Culinary Degrees 
  • 3D Baking, University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
  • Artisanal Food, Brightwater (NWACC)
  • Beverage Arts, Brightwater (NWACC)
  • Food Purchasing, University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College
  • Spirits & Mixology, University of Arkansas - Pulaski Technical College

Similar Jobs:

► Bakers: $28,350

► Restaurant cooks: $27,010