Michelle Hess, Judge
Engine 14 Brewery, Naples NY
Where are you from and where are you now?
I am from a very small town called Canaseraga, NY. I currently reside in Pittsford.
Have you always been a chef/do what your currently do? If not, what else have you done?
Throughout high school and college I worked at a local, family owned butcher shop in Canaseraga. In 2016 I joined the team at Oak Hill as a Pastry Cook and worked my way up to Pastry Chef. In 2023, I joined my family on a new venture, opening our own restaurant at Engine 14 Brewery in Naples, NY.
What was your introduction to cooking/baking/food?
My mom baked A LOT when I was growing up. I remember making cupcakes out of one of her old cook books and I was hooked on baking!
Where and how did you train? Who did you learn from?
I attended college at Alfred State College and receive my associates degree in Baking Production and Management in 2013. Once I arrived at Oak Hill in 2016, I obtained loads of knowledge from the Pastry Chef at the time, Brittany Nelson.
When you are “off the clock” do you like cooking or do you prefer someone else to do it?
I enjoy cooking at home, we like to say that it’s making “real food” instead of making sweets all day.
What is your favorite thing to bake/dish to make?
I don’t think I could choose a favorite. I love always having the opportunity to make different things and keep it fresh.
What is your favorite food to eat? (list more than one if you like)
I don’t think I can choose a favorite food to eat either. I love eating foods from all around the world and always trying something new.
Why are you serving as a judge for the 2023 Chocolate Ball? Do you do any other charity work?
I am excited to be a judge for my first year! I hope I can provide feedback to help new and returning chefs grow.
What’s a fun fact about you that many people might not know?
In my free time I love to craft and sew! It’s very similar to baking, but with different mediums for creating.