Wingspan, Spring 2022
“You can always reinvent yourself.”
Like swapping applesauce for eggs, sometimes life calls for a substitution. Nicole Luecke never planned on having a career in baking and pastry, but when her family needed a stay-at-home parent, she gave up her 30-year career as an obstetrician and gynecologist. She joined AACC’s culinary program to try something different and was surprised by how much she had to learn.
“I didn’t really have a career goal yet, but I loved culinary things,” she said. “I have spent most of my career taking care of people. And here I was in an environment where people are taking care of me. (The faculty) care about my learning, they care about my career, they care about everything that happens to me.
Luecke finished her baking and pastry certificate in 2021 and plans to open a chocolate business that can fit with her new lifestyle.
“I still have some caregiving responsibilities, so opening a storefront or working as a pastry chef is really just not something that fits with my life,” she said. “But I think Chef (Randy) Stahl said it best when he was advising me. He’s like, ‘You can make chocolate at 2 in the morning if you need to.’”
In addition to great advice, Stahl inspired Luecke with his own career transition. Stahl joined AACC full time in 2016 after a career owning and working in restaurants in Baltimore.
“It’s a great example for people like me, where my career ended not because I wanted it to, but because it had to. But there’s life after that,” Luecke said. “You can always reinvent yourself.”