Dunmore Grad Takes the Cake with New Business

By Emily Fedor

Kallista Pluciennik started her own baking business, Lola's Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Kallista Pluciennik started her own baking business, Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Kallista Pluciennik, a Dunmore High School alumna of the class of 2013, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America this past July with a degree in baking and pastry arts. And within a month of her graduation, she opened her own business: Lola’s Dessert Shop.

Currently a one-woman-show, Pluciennik is selling macarons, speciality cakes, cookies and more delicious desserts to Dunmore and beyond right out of her own home. Lola’s Dessert Shop, which is mainly operated through an online Etsy store, is sweet showcase for Pluciennik’s baking talents.

Online editor Emily Fedor caught up with the rising pastry chef (and guiltily interrupted her mid-baking) to talk about the process of opening her own business, recipe and design inspirations and, of course, her favorite sugary sweets.

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Emily Fedor: How did you first get interested in baking?

Kallista Pluciennik: When I was little I would bake with my grandma, but I never really thought of that as a profession until high school. I didn’t really get into it until I started doing the bake sales and stuff. That’s when I figured out that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

EF: And when did you realize you wanted to open your own business?

Custom cupcakes by Lola's Dessert Shop.

Custom cupcakes by Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

KP: I was planning it while I was at school because I know around here there aren’t many jobs for what I can do. So I was looking for actual jobs maybe just to make some money. Then my plan was to move away, but then I figured why not just start my own business?

EF: Where did the shop name come from?

KP: My grandma’s name was Dolores and everyone called her Lola. So that’s why I named it Lola.

EF: What did the process of getting Lola’s off the ground entail?

KP: I did have to get my shop name approved by the state, but I did that awhile back so I could have the name. Then I got my kitchen regulated…by the Department of Agriculture so I am allowed to bake out of my house. They come, I think once a year, and they inspect your kitchen just to make sure that everything’s up to where it’s supposed to be. You pay a small fee and that’s it.

EF: And how’s the response been so far?

KP: It’s been awesome. I just love how the community is helping. A lot of people are supporting small businesses nowadays. So there was definitely a lot of support there. I’ve gotten so many views on my Etsy site, like almost 1,000 already, and I’ve gotten at least 20 orders. So to start, I think that’s really good.

EF: How have you been getting the word out there?

KP: Social media is definitely helping. I do have a Facebook account for it. I have an Instagram and my Etsy site. And then also I’m starting to do farmers’ markets where you have your own little stand.

EF: Where do you get the recipes and ideas for the baked goods you make?

Custom macarons by Lola's Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

Custom macarons by Lola’s Dessert Shop. (Credit: Kallista Pluciennik)

KP: I use a lot of the recipes that we had from school, but I’ve adapted those to what works for me. I also get a lot of my ideas from Pinterest. There are a lot of bake shops in Australia that have some really cool ideas so I’ve been taking some from them.

EF: What’s your favorite pastry to make?

KP: Macarons. They’re really difficult to make so I feel like the fact that I’m able to make them is sort of a skill. And they’re really versatile. You can make them in any flavor, color, shape. You could do anything with them. You can even make a cake out of them. They’re really cool.

EF: What can followers expect from Lola’s in the future?

KP: Right now we’re just saving up money to find an actual space to put it in. The courthouse square would be nice because I know there are a lot of spaces for rent there. I do have some fun macaron flavors in the making, and I want to start making my own chocolates, but it’s all in time.

Cheryl’s Cuisine

By Cheryl Radkiewicz

It isn’t often that one gets the opportunity to enjoy a presentation by an executive chef of a non-stop booming casino.

Such was the case during the recent Lehigh Valley Food & Wine Festival, which was held May 29 through 31 at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem. Executive Chef Victor Bock, director of food and beverage services at the Sands, delighted the audience with a fabulous summer menu.

Bock has been with the Sands since 2009 and is a 1987 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He also earned a degree in Business Administration and Management from Penn State University.  Bock oversees all the restaurants and food services for the entire casino and hotel. As I ponder on this, I can’t imagine having this overwhelming responsibility.

His menu for the afternoon featured “Tastes of Summer,” and I would be remiss if I didn’t share these with you as we still have some (not much) summer weather remaining.

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Watermelon Gazpacho:

1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 Medium Watermelon, seedless and diced in 1/4 inch cubes
2 Red Peppers, toasted, peeled, seeded and diced
4 Scallions, minced
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and diced
6 Vine Golden Tomatoes, seeded and diced
2 qt. V-8 Juice/Tomato Juice
3 ribs Celery, diced
2 Cucumbers, seedless, peeled and diced
1 Lime, zested and juiced
3 oz. Rice wine vinegar
4 oz. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Fresh Cilantro, minced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, minced
Salt and White Pepper to taste
Sugar to taste

Combine all ingredients in stainless steel pot or bowl and refrigerate overnight.  For a spicy finish, add or delete the jalapeno peppers or use ground cayenne pepper.  Makes one gallon.

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Wasabi-Soy Maple Glazed Shrimp:

6 Shrimp (U-10 count), jumbo
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
1 tsp. Garlic, mince
1 Lime, zested and juiced
2 Scallions, thin, bias cut
1/2 Tbsp. Wasabi paste
1 1/2 oz. Soy Sauce
2 oz. Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Cilantro
1/4 cup Frisee
Salt and Pepper to taste
Plantain Chips to garnish

Season shrimp with salt and freshly ground pepper. Saute’ shrimp in olive oil, cooking on each side approximately for three to four minutes. Remove from pan. Add garlic and ginger to the pan and lightly saute’ until tender. Add lime juice, wasabi paste, maple syrup and soy sauce. Allow this to reduce for approximately five minutes or until it becomes syrup-like. Return shrimp to pan. Add scallions and lime zest and adjust seasoning. Serve garnished with frisee and chopped cilantro. Serve with Butternut Squash-Potato Fufu.

Butternut Squash-Potato Fufu:

1 Butternut Squash, large dice, blanched in salted water until tender
1/2 White Onion, minced
1 tsp. Ginger, minced
1 oz. Olive Oil
1 cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
3 Yukon Gold Potatoes, medium diced, blanched in salted water until tender
Pinch of Cardamon
Pinch of Curry Powder
Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tbsp. Whole Butter, softened
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute’ ginger and onions in olive oil until tender. Add potatoes and butternut squash. Add chicken or vegetable stock, continuing to cook squash until nearly dry and just past fork-tender. Add remaining spices and ingredients and adjust seasoning.

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Pan Roasted Pork Tenderloin and, Scallion-Shitake Mushroom Slaw:

1 Pork Tenderloin
1 oz. Olive Oil
2 cups Shitake Mushrooms
1 tsp. Ginger
2 oz. Maple Syrup
1 oz. Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Oil
1 oz. Hoisin Sauce
1 Scallion
1 cup Cilantro
1 tsp. Garlic
1 Lime
Sesame Seeds, garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Season and sear the pork tenderloin in olive oil until golden brown on all sides. Finish cooking in the pan, usually eight to 10 minutes or until an internal temperature of 135 degrees is reached. Remove and let rest. In sauté’ pan add mushrooms, ginger, and garlic and sauté until tender. Add maple syrup, soy, sesame oil and hoisin. Reduce heat and allow mixture to reduce in volume. Adjust seasoning. Add remaining items and serve over sliced tenderloin.

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Crisp Pork Belly with Smoked Corn Salsa and Goat Cheese:

Pork Belly:
Pork Belly (slab bacon)
1 qt. Soy Sauce
2 cups Hoisin Sauce
1 qt. Sake
Bay Leaf
3 Tbsp. sliced Ginger
8 cloves Garlic
2 cups Cilantro
1 Star Anise

Brine pork belly/slab bacon for 24 hours.  Braise, covered at 225 degrees for four to five hours until fork tender.  Allow to cool.  Slice as needed.

Smoked Corn Salsa:
2 cup Sweet Corn, silver queen/white peg, lightly smoked
2 oz. Goat Cheese
2 Tbsp. Red Onion
1 Vine Tomato
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Sugar
Olive Oil
Sherry Vinegar

Combine all ingredients and serve.

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Pulled Pork Potstickers:

2 cups Pulled Pork
1 Scallion
1 tsp. Fresh Mint
1/2 tsp. Sambal
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Cilantro
4 Wonton Wrappers
1 oz. Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

After braising pork shoulder, allow to cool and pull the meat. In mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Lightly egg wash egg roll or wonton wrappers. Fill each with approximately one ounce of pulled pork mixture.

When the Dream That You Wish Comes True

By Emily Fedor

*Correction to print edition made in bold.*

Two Dunmore High School alumni, Alee Bevilacqua ‘11 and John Glinsky ‘13, both went away for school to pursue their dreams upon graduating.

Bevilacqua enrolled at Temple University in Philadelphia to further explore her love of the Spanish language. Glinsky traveled to Hyde Park, New York to earn his associate’s degree from the Culinary Institute of America. Two very different paths indeed, but those paths eventually crossed in a magical way.

Both DHS alum ended up finding employment with a little company started by a man you may have heard of before. Does Walt Disney ring a bell?

Bevilacqua moved to sunny California to take on an global publicity internship with Walt Disney Studios, and Glinsky took on an externship position as a prep chef in a famous boardwalk restaurant at Disney World in Florida.

Online editor Emily Fedor caught up with both of the mouseketeers in the making to chat about their big moves, their impressive gigs and, of course, the wonderful world of Disney.

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Disney - Alee Bevilacqua

Alee Bevilaqua is currently working as a global publicity intern at Walt Disney Studios as a part of Disney’s professional internship program. (Photo Credit: Alee Bevilacqua)

Emily Fedor: Let’s start from the beginning. How did finding a job with Disney first come into the picture?

Alee Bevilacqua: I was looking for [jobs with] advertising and digital marketing agencies—things of that sort.  I just threw it into the mix. They had a public relations position open with Lucasfilm (Disney owns Lucasfilm). I applied for that, and the woman who gave me a phone screening told me about the position I have right now. She said, “We didn’t post it on the website yet, but based on your interests, I really think you would like this one.”

EF: And what are you doing in this position?

AB: I’m a publicity intern. I work on a team that does publicity with Disney Studios, and I worked on a team that does global publicity for live action films—so anything along the lines of Marvel, Lucasfilm.. I’ll help out at premieres and any other publicity events for the movies. I handle a lot of different odds and ends.

EF: You graduated from Temple with a degree in Spanish. Does that come into use at all?

AB: On the publicity team, we have some hispanic media outlets. So my Spanish does actually come in handy.

EF: So working in the publicity field in Disney, nonetheless, wasn’t ever a part of your plans?

AB: No, I definitely didn’t have this planned. When Mario [Bevilacqua] first started off with his food truck [What the Fork], I helped him out with that. I started to realize I was really interested in digital marketing. So once I got to school, I had a little marketing internship, and I did a PR internship. Then last semester, I was an intern at a digital marketing agency.

EF: How has the transition of moving to California been?

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Alee Bevilacqua made her move to California only a few weeks after she graduated from Temple University in May. (Photo Credit: Alee Bevilacqua)

AB: I live in Burbank, so I’m still in a little residential area. There’s a lot more driving which I didn’t expect. It’s impossible to get around if you don’t have a car because the public transportation is not that great. People out here are much more relaxed,  too, and the weather is just perfect year-round.

EF: What do you miss most about Dunmore?

AB: I miss the community feeling for sure. It’s easy to walk into somewhere and see someone you know and start up a conversation. But honestly, I miss NEPA food. The best food you’re going to get here is Mexican food and sushi, because that’s what’s big out here. I could be bias because half of Dunmore is Italian, but I have yet to try good Italian [food] down here.

EF: What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had so far?

AB: I was able to go and volunteer at Comic-Con, which is absolutely incredible. We took a bus down to San Diego, and I got to watch the entire panel at Hall H, which I never thought I would ever do. People wait in line for days for that. There were 6,000 people there. It was insane just being a part of that.

EF: So what’s next for you? Is this move permanent for you?

AB: As of right now, my internship is until December 30th, but it’s up in the air. They can ask you upon mutual agreement to extend your internship for another six months. After that, there’s always a possibility I could get offered a position if there’s a job opening. I have been toying with anything though. As of right now, I’m just rolling with it.

EF: But you’re happy with the decision you made to take the job at Disney?

AB: I’m absolutely happy to be here. I could hop down to Disneyland any day, and it’s a work environment that I think everyone dreams of. I think what I love about publicity is that at Disney, it’s more of a female-dominated field. So I think being around these powerful, goal-oriented women is so inspiring. I can’t believe this is my life.

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John Glinsky worked as prep cook at a signature restaurant at Disney World in Florida last year as part of an externship program. He will be returning to work at a different restaurant this month.

John Glinsky worked as prep cook at a signature restaurant at Disney World in Florida last year as part of an externship program. He will be returning to work at a different restaurant this month. (Photo Credit: John Glinsky)

Emily Fedor: What attracted you to Disney World and made you want to get a job there?

John Glinsky: My family goes to Disney for vacations, so Disney is a big part of my life in general. I wanted to work at Disney so I can continue a family tradition my grandparents started the tradition of going to Disney every year. I was just thinking how awesome it would be to work at Disney and take my future child there and be like “Hey, I worked at this place.”

EF: How was the transition of moving to Florida?

JG: We drove—well, my dad drove—down to Disney straight through without stopping. I would never recommend that to anyone. I’d never been away from home, but it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. It was like I was meant to be there. It was scary to go down, but I was more excited than anything.

EF: What kind of work did you do while you were in Disney?

JG: I worked at the Flying Fish Cafe, a signature restaurant in Walt Disney World. It was ranked the fourth best restaurant in Disney at the time. I was mostly a prep cook there. Usually my shift was 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and throughout that time, I would prep for that night cooking wise. It would be a fresh prep every day, which I enjoyed.

EF: You’ve been to Disney quite a few times before working there. How was being an employee versus a tourist?

JG: I don’t want to say too much because I don’t want to spoil the magic. There were just moments when I was walking backstage—they use theatre terms like backstage, audience, costumes—and I’d be walking with Woody. But then you’d see another Woody switching out with him. It’s actually really funny.

EF: Do you have a favorite memory from your time there?

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John Glinsky’s place of employment, the Flying Fish Cafe, was ranked the fourth best restaurant in Disney. (Photo Credit: John Glinsky)

JG: When I started doing prep work, I almost got transferred to a different location because I couldn’t keep up. But one of the head chefs named James said he would take me under his wing, and he just brought me to a whole different level. I had talked to him about buying a new knife. And when I was leaving on my second last day, he gave me his first knife that he ever bought.

EF: What was the biggest difference between Florida and Dunmore?

JG: There’s more diversity there, and a lot of the people didn’t speak English. But that’s why I like food so much, because language barriers don’t matter. It’s a language in itself.

EF: Now you’re going back to work at Disney. Tell me about that.

JG: I applied back and they greeted me with open arms. They wanted to put me at Victoria & Albert’s which is the number one restaurant in Disney, but there weren’t any openings until November. So I’m working at Artist’s Point in Wilderness Lodge. It’ll be a good experience.

EF: Pick three words to describe your time working at Disney.

JG: Magical, extraordinary, and humbling. Seeing what people go through to make the magic was really humbling.  My tier in the totem pole was giving them a meal they’d never forget. That’s the whole reason I do what I do. I want to be a chef because it makes people happy.