By Pat Nowak
Who can forget mom’s cooking lessons? She had a magic way of preparing food even when it wasn’t your favorite meal, it still gave you comfort. Mom had favorite dishes she made: City chicken for the holidays, sweet and sour cabbage and meatballs. She loved the compliments she received, and even when she was over 90 years old, still wanted to bring a dish to family parties.
I called noted Pastry Chef/Cake Designer Wendy Kromer to ask how her mother influenced her career decision. Wendy was one of six children. Her mother, Joan Kromer, used to give the children an allowance, but was dismayed when they spent the money at a local candy store. So she decided to educate them about saving by teaching them how to make their own candy and baked goods. She was a great chef, and her favorite things to make were her Polish breads and cookies, as well as a flourless chocolate cake.
Her mother, Joan, was truly an artist, and adept in many mediums. She inspired Wendy with much more than baking, as she also had a beautiful soprano voice, and sang for many weddings and in the church choir. She was a genius at making her home beautiful and she sewed many of the children’s clothes as well as her own (she was into Vogue Patterns). Joan’s advice to Wendy: “Find something you love to do and make a living at it.”
With this inspiration, Wendy spent a decade as a runway model in Paris and Tokyo. She then moved to New York City, enrolling in the Pastry Arts program at Peter Kump School of Culinary Art (now known as the Institute of Culinary Education). There, a lifetime hobby of making desserts became a career.
When she completed her Pastry Arts degree, Wendy worked with Colette Peters of Food Network fame. Shortly after, Wendy presented her first “sugar artwork” at the 1995 Culinary Art Showing NYC, earning her a coveted 1st Place Ribbon, as well as the attention of Martha Stewart.
Since 1995 Wendy continues her work with Martha Stewart Omnimedia as Contributing Editor, producing hundreds of wedding cakes for Martha Stewart Weddings. One has also seen her decorated cookies, cakes, and other Dessert stories in Martha Stewart Living.In 2007, Wendy co-authored Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes. She has also been featured in numerous other books, magazines and TV shows.
Wendy decided to make Sandusky her home and, in 2009, began teaching classes in the art of cake decorating at the Wendy Kromer Confections Academy.
She also goes on the road with her teaching at various hotels, resorts and cake design schools worldwide. In 2013, Wendy teamed-up with producers at Craftsy.com, an innovative online teaching forum, which prides itself in bringing “the best instructors in the world” to students. Her latest travels will take her to London and Brazil as well as future trips to Jakarta and Perth. Wendy has tutored nearly 7,000 students across the globe.
Today, Wendy and her husband, Scott Schell, live in Sandusky, where they are committed to the revitalization of the city, as well as the loving restoration of an 1890 Queen Anne home and Bed & Breakfast.