ACA Alumni Profiles

Bill McCarrick

Alumnus: Bill McCarrick
Class of: 1984
Studied: Culinary Arts

If you've ever visited Harrods of London, the world famous department store, you’re very likely to have tasted something Chef Bill McCarrick had a hand in. Formerly executive pastry chef there, McCarrick was in charge of all pastry, bakery, chocolate and ice cream, in the stores’ 25 restaurants and food halls. He also oversaw sugar, chocolate, marzipan and pastillage for holidays, bread wreathes or spiky grissini sticks for the bakeries, centerpieces on dessert buffets in restaurants, and room turndowns for VIP rooms and suites.

McCarrick's professional experience led him from Atlantic City, N.J. to Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. He has won numerous gold medals with his cakes and wedding cakes, chocolate creations and desserts.

How my Academy education helped me to become successful:

I was encouraged to believe that I was as good as the best student in the world and that I should go for the top pastry chef position.

Present job:

Chocolatier, Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate and Champagne House, London.

Signature creation:

Exquisite variations of “Opera Cake,” an elegant layered sponge cake sold at Harrods. Adaptations combine exotic regional ingredients, such as saffron, rose water, pistachio, rose-hip tea, hazelnuts.

Newsmaker status:

Filed the first patent in the United Kingdom and U.S. for a multilayered cake concept.

Media exposure:

  • Shared the stage with Jamie Oliver, alias “the Naked Chef,” and Gordon Ramsey, a world-renowned U.K. restaurateur, at the BBC’s Festive Good Food Show in 2004. Appeared before a crowd of 15,000.
  • Featured “live” on UKTV’s Great Food Live and Good Food Bites. View recipes and action clips.

Moments with celebrities:

  • Helped create the cake for Donald Trump’s ‘50th birthday,’ sang ‘Happy Birthday’ on stage with Trump’s then wife, Marla Maples.
  • Auditioning before Mohamed Al Fayed, owner of Harrods, baked Arabian Opera Cake and got the job.
  • Has met Russian cosmonauts, music icon Sting, clothing designers from the London fashion scene. Also Pierre Herme, said to be France’s top pastry chef, and Robert Linxe, known as one of the world’s best chocolatiers.

What my job is like:

Each day is unique and exciting. One day I might compare different vintages of Japanese sake to complement my signature Asian Opera Cake for a themed afternoon tea concept. The next day, I’ll be combining tomato, basil and milk chocolate infusion into a petit four for a Mediterranean charity event.

One thing I learned at the Academy that has helped me in my career:

Chefs who travel have an advantage, but that’s not enough in itself. It’s what you take away from those destinations that makes the difference.

Challenges:

Striking a balance between traditional European “patisserie” offerings and cutting-edge or original concepts at Harrods. Infusing food influences from all over the globe into the products.

Why I became a chef:

I found that I enjoy cooking so much, it never feels like work. Also, I love to put smiles on people’s faces.

Advice to aspiring chefs:

Forget about money when you start out; bust your butt to out-hustle the competition. Find the best chef in your desired specialty, and hound that person until he or she hires you. Once in the door, bust your butt. (It worked for me!)

Most memorable experiences:

  • Being offered a position in Switzerland, just a year after I graduated from college.
  • Winning my first gold medal in a food show, the year after I graduated from the Academy. In preparation, I sacrificed my free time for six months. Winning gave me confidence, and taught me there are no shortcuts to success.

Right now, I’m exploring:

The ingredient potential of tonka bean, rumored to be an aphrodisiac. Also, working on a cookbook.

Special training:

  • Evald Notter Sugar School, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Valhrona Chocolate School, Lyon, France

Future:

Goal upon graduation from the Academy was to be pastry chef at the White House.