In lieu of the Holidays, we took a brief hiatus from our Bartender and Chef of the week selections to indulge in the celebrations that the season brings with it – eating, drinking, and enjoying time with our families. We know you’ve missed us but have no fear, we are back and ready to kick off 2016 in the sweetest way. With our first Chef of the Week selection of the New Year we’d like to introduce you to Monica Kollig! Chef Kollig caught our full attention through her unparalleled ability to conclude every meal with an irresistibly satiable sweet-treat. Sweeping us up right by the sweet tooth, Full Society is proud to name Chef Monica as our first feature of the year!
Beginning her culinary journey at the age of 15, Chef Monica fell in love at her first “real” pastry job making pastries like key lime pie and cheesecake for the student’s mealtime at Goucher College. Kollig loved spending as much time there as possible, unfazed that as a junior in high
school she was missing out on typical high school activities – she was getting paid to do what she loved, “what more could you ask for”? In fact, she loved it so much that Chef Monica recalls thinking at that time, “maybe I should do this for the rest of my life”. Well Chef, we fully appreciate that you did!
Kollig attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York and received an AOS degree in baking and pastry. After graduating college, Chef Monica set a goal for herself to be a head pastry chef by the time she was 25 years’ old. In order to reach her goal, Chef Monica told us she knew she had to “set up” or prepare herself strategically for each step of her journey. As part of this process, Monica positioned herself in the best kitchens that she could get hired in, to learn as much as she possibly could from each kitchen. Additionally, Chef Monica “burned into her brain” a different way of thinking based off advice she had received from her mentor in college, Francisco Migoya. He told Kollig, “Don’t specialize in anything. Go out and learn from as many people as you can and become well rounded in your craft.”, so she did just that.
Chef Monica started her career after graduation at Westchester Country Club in Rye, NY, following an externship she had completed there during college. Following that she traveled south to Palm Beach, FL where she would work under Chef Daniel Boulud at Café Boulud until moving to Virginia to further expand her talents at the Inn at Little Washington. Finally, Chef Monica found her way back to Baltimore, where for a short period of time worked in the pastry kitchen at the Four Season Hotel before transferring to Chef Bryan Voltaggio’s restaurant, Aggio. Chef Kollig then made her move with the Foreman Wolf group at Cinghiale, where she created the desserts and pastries that have wowed Full Society as well as the entire Harbor East Community.
Both intrigued and impressed by Chef Monica’s creations, we asked her to divulge her processes when faced with creating a new dish. This is where once again her perspective of “don’t specialize in anything” shines through. In our experience, restaurants and kitchens are typically a place of systematic regiments and organization, but Chef Monica isn’t bound by the typical process of production. Instead she treats her creations in the same way a painter would treat their canvas – an adventure towards creation through diverse and creative inspirations. Basically, Kollig let us know that there was no strict instruction she follows, instead she opens her creativity to the influences of the world around her. Whether it be inspiration found through social media, which fuels Chef Monica’s excitement and often challengers her to create new ways of putting her own signature twist on popular trending dishes, or be it from the seasons, which often play a critical role in dictating what ingredients will make it into her new masterpiece. Kollig allows her passion for creating delectable treats to drive her mentality of diversity to masterfully handle the unknown – Chef Monica proves that the kitchen is truly a place for an artist.
There’s no possibility you won’t be impressed by Kollig’s creations, but what we found most humbling and admirable was her commitment to hospitality and the drive to, above all else, provide a pleasant experience for her guests. “I plan off of what I know, what the guest will actually enjoy” says Chef Monica, and believe us she isn’t kidding. It was impressive to hear her opinion on the biggest success in her career, which was “actually using my college degree for my career, never having a hard time finding a job, and still loving the kitchen after 10 years.” She works long and hard crafting new ways to enhance our night out and provide us with the sweet finale we all crave, and for that we thank you Chef Monica Kollig. We look forward to seeing what you have to offer us next!