Born in 1986, the head baker for TCU Dining Services is the same age as many students attending TCU.Twenty-year-old Kelli Ginther has been in charge of baking for Dining Services since August – a role that, despite her young age, she is more than ready to fill, said Dining Services staff members.
“For me, this is a really exciting chance to prove that people our age can be capable of doing the work and gaining respect in the workforce,” Ginther said.
A Fort Worth native, Ginther graduated from Boswell High School in July 2004. Ginther then went to the Scottsdale Culinary Institute where she received a certificate of Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking.
“Basically, I am a pastry chef,” Ginther said.
Ginther graduated from cooking school in November 2004 after finishing an externship for a Cold Stone Creamery test store where new flavors were made. She said she was in charge of making the ice cream cakes.
After moving home to Fort Worth, Ginther heard about an open position in the catering department for Jazzman’s at TCU through her friend Debbie Baldwin, an administrative assistant in the political science department.
After spending time working in the catering department, Ginther said she was presented with the opportunity to work as head baker.
“I don’t think there were any hesitations about hiring Kelli,” said Rick Flores, general manager for Dining Services.
Ginther is now in charge of all the baked goods on campus.
“I pretty much bake the same things every day, but baking danishes is definitely my favorite,” Ginther said.
Some of the most popular baked goods Ginther said she bakes include corn bread, garlic bread, cobblers and any other specialty desserts.
Executive Chef Joel Branch said Ginther’s personality helped her get the job.
“She’s very durable – she can roll with the big boys, and she has a great attitude and willingness to work,” Branch said.
Along with being responsible for all the baked goods on campus, students in the quality foods class come to the kitchen to learn exactly what goes into being the head baker, Ginther said.
“I love teaching students, especially when they are my age,” Ginther said.
Ginther said seeing students get excited about something she does is one of the best parts of her job.
She said there’s an advantage to working among people her own age because it allows her to go out and talk with students and see what they like.
“Being the same age as the students I am baking for definitely gives me a heads-up because I know what people my age are going to eat,” Ginther said.
But baking doesn’t always stop when the work day is over.
“I also love the idea of helping people by coming up with great sugar-free recipes for people who are diabetic like my parents, and baking cookies for a homeless shelter,” Ginther said.
Ginther said she is a people-person and any career that affects a lot of people is for her.
“I don’t think a four-year college is for everyone; it wasn’t for me,” Ginther said. “I learn something new every day working here, so it’s like college with a twist.