This season’s Summer Baking Championship features Philadelphia’s very own, John Boyle, the Assistant Pastry Chef at the Union League. Born and raised in Philly, Boyle is one of the talented competitors on the hit competition show which kicks off with two back-to-back episodes on Food Network and discovery+ Monday, May 15th! Tune in as 10 bakers bringing the theme of “summer” to their baking. Below, John talked to us a bit about why he wanted to become a chef, how his passion began and what he hopes to take away from this one-of-a-kind experience.
Q: When did you realize you wanted to become a chef? Why pastries specifically?
A: I realized I wanted to become a chef around my senior year at Father Judge High School. I had been working at my local bakery, Holmesburg Bakery since I was fifteen and loved it. I thought that it would be a great career to pursue, so I went to the Culinary Institute of America and graduated in 2011, ironically on 11/11/11, with an Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. I chose pastry as my specialty because of the creativity it gave me at Holmesburg Bakery. We made all desserts from buttercream doughnuts to cheesecakes. I loved my hands in the dough and working with all the fun ingredients. I especially enjoyed working the morning rush and seeing how alive the bakery was with orders.
Q: As Assistant Pastry Chef at the Union League, what does a typical day at work look like for you?
A: A typical day for me starts with assisting my staff with daily projects and most importantly, monitoring the quality and efficiency of all events and functions. I ensure all orders are filled in a timely fashion and are up to Union League standards.
Q: What’s one of your favorite pastries to make?
A: My favorite pastries to make are doughnuts and yeast raised pastries. When I make them, it takes me back to when I was a teenager working in the bakery and reminds me of what made me fall in love with pastry in the first place.
Q: How did you become involved in Summer Baking Championship?
A: I was contacted through Instagram to become involved with Summer Baking Championship. I received a notification inviting me to participate in the show, and I honestly didn’t think it was real, but it turns out it was!
Q: Whether you win or not, what do you hope to take away from this experience?
A: What I hope to take away from this whole experience is that I took a chance and put myself out there in a way that not many people get the chance to. I always thought that I wasn’t cut out for competition shows since I didn’t grow up with the traditional “baking with my grandmoms” or “have a passion for it at a young age.” Even to this day, I have never baked a single pastry or cookie at home after 17 years in the business. Overall, this has easily been one of the best decisions I ever made – participating in this show with such a wonderful group of talented bakers.
Q: How do you spend summer in Philly? Anything you’re looking forward to this year?
A: I love to spend summers down the shore in North Wildwood, soak up the sun on the beach and stroll on the boardwalk. I’m also an avid golfer and love to hit some of my local courses and get a round of golf in with my buddies. I am really looking forward to my upcoming road trip to Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons with my girlfriend this summer! We have been looking forward to this trip since we started dating and we are both super excited for it to come to fruition!