Retrospective: Interview with Jennifer Stang, Team Member, Pastry Chef
Posted on November 17, 2012

You came onboard as pastry chef eight weeks before this competition, having never competed before in anything like this. What was it like for you?
It was pretty much a blur, quite honestly. I didn’t really even have a chance to stop and think. I just put my head down and did it … until: We’re finished. We’re done. And then wondering: How did we get here?

Chef Jennifer StangBut after we finished the cold competition, I remember very distinctly walking back from the school kitchen where we prepped to the hotel. I hadn’t been to bed for 48 hours, a super long day, I had beer in my coffee mug … time didn’t matter … and I felt such elation, lightness. It was a beautiful morning, around 7:30 — and then I just about got hit by a tram. I remember thinking, “Really? Now??”

Were you nervous or anxious at all?
Not during the competition. For me, all of the stress and the anxiety was in Edmonton before leaving. Once you’re there, there are only two options: sink or swim, and sinking wasn’t an option. I was caught a little off guard initially at the hot competition: my workstation was right in front of the window so I constantly had hundreds of people staring at me. I wasn’t anticipating that many people and all the cameras.

Any surprises at the competition?
We had trouble tracking down rhubarb, one of the components of my Hot Kitchen dessert. And when we found some, it was green not red, so it took some finagling to make it red — a moment of stress for sure! The support members and Team Alberta members who’d eaten all the earlier versions of the dessert at practices, when they tasted this one said that I’d picked the right moment to peak!

Did you get much sleep?
Even before the competition, I had very little sleep! I came into work at 9:00 in the morning and stayed until 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning for the two weeks before we left. I joked that I was preparing for Germany and our no-sleep schedule.

Did you eat properly?
The meals were one of the most memorable things for me. I texted my mom that I was eating three regular meals a day (I was used to Safeway cake on the fly in the weeks before Erfurt). We had breakfast at our hotel — the only reason I went to bed at night was to have owner Thomas’s breakfasts in the morning! — and Team Alberta made lunch and dinner for us every day. And I rediscovered Nutella while I was there … Nutella and butter sandwiches: the best.

Any time for shopping or sightseeing?
Given that I love shoes [Jennifer has150 pairs, mostly high heels], I thought it would be nice to have some Germany shoes to go with my London shoes and Manchester shoes. At first I wondered why they didn’t have all kinds of pretty high-heeled shoes in Germany. Then the first time I walked on the cobblestoned streets, I got it. But I wore all eight pairs of fun shoes that I brought along (in addition to my two pairs of kitchen clogs), and I did bring home a new pair of beautiful 4-inch heels in blue suede with pink soles.

What are you taking away from this experience?
The deepening and creating of friendships. I only moved from Team Alberta to Team Canada in August, so I still consider myself a sort of honorary member of Team Alberta. I became really close with them. I was happy for Team Canada and what we accomplished, but I confess that when Team Alberta won gold, I got weepy for them: the little team that could!

Chef Jennifer StangWhat was the best thing about being part of Team Canada?
You learn so much about yourself. I learned an immense amount about what I was capable of. A few times, when we were prepping at the school kitchen, I felt I was so out of my depth … but then I look at what we did as a team … It still hasn’t totally sunk in. And I don’t credit myself. Without the support members, the coaches, my family — amazing people — I could not have done it.

What will you reminisce about years from now?
The friendships, that walk back to the hotel after it was all over and the surrealness of the whole experience. Even now I look back and think, “Did I really do that?”

Would you do it again?
I might. Especially with more than a couple of months’ lead time. The expectations between the regional and national team competitions are much different — you definitely need to step up your game to compete at the national level.


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