When Camilia Baquero Rojas finished her major in Industrial Engineering in Bogotá, she went to Le Cordon Bleu Paris to pursue her dream: to study Pastry and Cuisine. She was awarded the Grand Diplôme in 2012. In 2013, she returned to Bogotá, Colombia and began working on her own project: a business focused on the production of different varieties of mini desserts and sweet treats for social and corporate events. As the business evolved, she opened a coffee shop in one of the main areas of Bogotá.
Interview with Camilia Baquero Rojas
What made you want to study pastry?
During my childhood, I spent all my time in the kitchen with my grandmothers. They both had very different tastes: this led me to become passionate about cuisine and pastry. Family meals were always a moment where we shared a great deal and everybody got together and thought about other things than work.
What is your favourite memory from your adventure at Le Cordon Bleu Institute in Paris?
My favourite memory from my time at Le Cordon Bleu was visiting Rungis market. It was one of my favourite activities. I love cooking, making pastries and also shopping at the market.
Could you tell us briefly about your career path?
After graduating, I did an internship with Carl Marletti before going on to work with Chef Poitevin on the Champs-Élysées. When I finished my work placement at Le Jules Verne, I returned home and started working on my own project. At the same time, I worked as executive sous-chef at the Wine and Food Festival and met the organizers of the festival with whom I sometimes work. From July 2013, I focused all my energy on my project to open a pastry shop: Camilia Pâtisserie.
My internship with Carl Marletti gave me the opportunity to see the whole production process, and how a pastry shop works, close up. I got on really well with Chef Marletti and he encouraged me to pursue my entrepreneurial project. When I returned to Colombia, I tested everything I had learnt. I sold my products to friends and family and six months later, with my parents’ backing, I decided to open my own company and become a pastry chef. I started with one employee and now, 2 and a half years later, there are fifteen of us. We work for my two pastry shops, but are also involved in numerous events.
What advice would you give to future Grand Diplôme students?
Make the most of the experience during your studies, wander around the markets and discover the restaurants of Paris to develop your sense of taste. Take part in all the school activities and seize the opportunity to be an assistant as it an extremely enriching experience. Finally, pay close attention to what the Chefs are teaching you.
Could you describe your new life in Colombia?
My whole life revolves around pastry: I love it. I still have a lot to learn to continue to develop my pastry shop. Every day, I am the first to arrive and the last to leave, it is essential to be passionate about what you are doing.
What are your plans for the future?
I plan to open a bakery in the future in order to increase my product range.