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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

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Hofmockel cooks past worries, savors result

Hofmockel cooks past worries, savors result

While some students have known since day one what they want to be when they grow up, others need a little more time and have to do a little more soul and self searching to find their true calling. Despite her individual, academic and emotional struggles, senior Anna Hofmockel has found her passion in the culinary arts and secured herself a spot in the 2015 incoming college class of the Culinary School of America (CSA).

Hofmockel began her high school career as a member of the 30-student Glenbrook Academy of International Studies, a four-year program for advanced students that teaches English, history and a foreign language. She had a “shining example” of achievement in her brother, who was a member of the Glenbrook Academy and is two years older than Hofmockel. Consequently, Hofmockel entered high school with the desire and self-created pressure to achieve academically.

“I was going to take all honors classes, I was going to be in the Academy, I was going to be a rockstar [and] I was going to be involved,” Hofmockel said. “I wanted to try to do a lot more than just school work, […] and that’s hard to do.”

Hofmockel’s comprehensive vision for high school was complicated by an anxiety disorder she developed during eighth grade. As the lead in the school musical, she started having panic attacks every time before she went on stage. She missed a month of school while learning to cope with her anxiety.

Hofmockel began high school and made it through her freshman year with reduced anxiety. However, she added more activities to her full academic schedule during her sophomore year and “stretched [her]self too thin.”

“By January, I was unable to function,” Hofmockel said. “I couldn’t go to class, I couldn’t do homework at home. I just fell apart, and from there [anxiety has] been a much bigger part of my life than I had ever expected it to be.”

As a result, she left the Academy. With extra space in her schedule, she decided to take a Culinary Arts class. Her first Culinary Arts teacher, Kelli McDonald, realized Hofmockel’s passion and included her in the Careers in Culinary class even though the normal prerequisite classes are Foods 1 and Foods 2.

“I talked with her counselor, [because] she had a huge desire to be in Culinary. So, we went ahead and advanced her,” McDonald said. “She’s such a hard worker, which is sometimes hard to come by in the culinary classrooms.”

Hofmockel’s determination led her to compete in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America fondant cake decorating competition last year, despite her class being only two weeks in, which made it impossible to learn everything she would need to know for the competition.

“[She] basically self taught  everything that she learned [for the competition],” McDonald said. “She watched YouTube videos.”

Her skills as a chef extend to in-classroom competitions as well, according to McDonald, who held a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives tournament.

“[Hofmockel] and her partner decided to make chicken and waffles,” McDonald said. “[That was] something I thought could never be done within the 50-minute class period, and they pulled it off and it was fantastic, and they won the competition. It was something that even I didn’t think was achievable within the time frame that we had. They did a great job.”

Hofmockel’s love for culinary shows, according to McDonald, because of her dedication to all culinary aspects such as dish washing and other forms of cleaning, which she embraces.

“[Hofmockel] likes every aspect of [culinary],” McDonald said. “She works hard in every single  aspect.”

McDonald recognizes the tendency of students to try and change themselves in order to be more like siblings who went before them. However, she is glad that Hofmockel went her own way instead of following in her brother’s footsteps, which did not fit in with her style.

“It’s nice that someone as young as [Hofmockel] has decided to really just tune into her passion and what she wants to do and not what people think she should do,” McDonald said.

Hofmockel turned the shift in her academic course into an opportunity to redefine her future. Although she had always been “really into cooking and baking,” it wasn’t until the middle of her junior year when she realized she could “turn [her] passion for food into a career.”

“I’d […] gotten my drive back and I said, ‘I want to go to the best culinary school in the world,’” Hofmockel said. “Everything since then was, ‘I have to get into the [CSA]. The CSA is where I belong. Anthony Bourdain went there, Grant Achatz went there and all these really famous and successful chefs.’ I want to be like them.”

Hofmockel’s dream became a reality when she was admitted into the CSA on Sept. 25.

“The assistant director of admissions called me […] and he told me that he had just put my acceptance letter in the mail, and I started crying because I was so overwhelmed with the idea that I did it,” Hofmockel explained. “After all this, I finished what I had set out for, and I reached what I wanted to reach. For someone who is anxious about the future all the time, to know ‘It’s ok. You can breathe. You’re in,’ was an amazing feeling.”

According to McDonald, she was convinced Hofmockel would be admitted to the CSA even though Hofmockel was not certain about the result of her pending admission .

“She’s a great student,” McDonald said. “I just 100 percent think that if she wants to achieve something, [Hofmockel’s] pretty much a go getter, she’ll  get it.”

For the past two months, Hofmockel has worked as an assistant to the pastry chef at Three Tarts Bakery in Northfield to get professional baking experience. According to Hofmockel, she makes pies, decorates cupcakes, glazes fresh baked tea breads and much more at the bakery and loves the freedom she is given to test her skills. She plans to get her bachelor’s degree from the CSA in Baking and Pastry Management, which entails two years of hands-on baking and pastry experience and two years of the business aspect of the culinary arts.

Despite the obstacles in her path in regards to stress and figuring  out her desired occupation, Hofmockel has developed a future she is excited about. She is enthusiastic to embark on her up-coming journey. She encourages other students to consider the possibilities for their future as well.

“It’s not always the best idea to dive straight into school and have no idea what you want to do,” Hofmockel said. “You’ve got to think about it for a second and think, ‘If I could do anything in the world, what would I do after high school?’ I know that’s not possible for everybody but it’s something to consider, because in the end it’s all about what you make of your life.”

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