By Ella Speer
I walk in the front door after school on Friday and smell something delicious. Even though my dad’s main titles are Executive Pastry Chef and Director of Culinary Operations at Uchi and Uchiko restaurants, the possibilities of the meals he might make at home are endless. For all I know, it could be anything from a big salad with delicious and hearty ingredients like lettuce from our garden and tender, wonderful chicken, to a fat, juicy, mouthwatering cheeseburger. Whatever it is, though, I know it will be delicious.
Saturday morning I wake up to the smell of my stepmom, Callie Speer, making her famous homemade cinnamon rolls. As I run down the stairs, I notice my two-year-old sister, Lucia, already stuffing her face with them. There’s always something cooking here at the Speer house. As a matter of fact, I can also smell Callie making a chocolate cake for our good friend Chef Zack Northcutt.
There are many pros and cons to having pastry chefs for parents. For example, my dad works really weird hours, and I don’t see him as much as most of my friends see their dads. But I often get to go to work with him, and I have the honor of helping him with his desserts. I remember one time making mint gelatin for a meeting. The best part was when I saw the outcome and smelled the tasty aroma and knew “my name” was on it.
With pastry chef parents, I also do a lot of things that most kids don’t. For instance, I get to go to restaurant soft openings (a pre-opening meal that’s usually invitation only), and I most definitely know my way around a restaurant kitchen. And because Callie often helps me with goodies like homemade lollipops for Valentine’s Day, or end-of-the-year cupcakes for the last day of school, I always have delicious treats for my classmates. She even helped me make a cake for one of my best friends! Also, because their jobs require a lot of creativity, it encourages me to be more creative with school projects such as a character scrapbook, posters for book reports and science fair projects. In fact, for third, fifth and sixth grades, I did my science fair projects on food—one on yeast and rising, one on the ratio of agar (a vegan substitute for gelatin) to water for producing the most successful bouncy ball and one on the ratio of vinegar to water for preserving cucumbers the longest. All these projects were inspired by Callie and my dad!
One year, my friends and I were going roller-skating for my birthday party. My dad came to pick up all of my friends from school and brought with him his new peanut butter dessert. We each got to try it and loved it. Doing fun projects at my house with friends is unique, too—like making gingerbread cookies. We have various unusual ingredients on hand such as edible silver balls and glitter that give the cookies a professional touch. As my friend Kendall says, “The gingerbread cookies were so cool because of the interesting supplies Callie had. They looked like gingerbread models that should be walking down a runway!” It’s the little perqs like these that make being a pastry chef’s daughter awesome.
Because of Dad’s and Callie’s occupations, I have always been inspired to be a pastry chef when I grow up—it’s just what I’ve been raised around. I’ve always felt very privileged that my dad gives me the opportunity to help him in the kitchen, and I hope to someday be as talented and creative as he and Callie are. I love them so much and will cherish my time with them until I become a talented pastry chef myself. Well, a girl can dream, right?
Ella Speer is a sixth grader. Her dad, Philip Speer, is executive pastry chef and director of culinary operations at Uchi, Uchiko and Uchi Houston. Her stepmom, Callie Speer, is the owner of Cakemix. Ella loves being a pastry chef’s daughter and couldn’t wish for anything more.