Pelican Rapids High School graduate Madison Waller, 2018, is back in her home town—“on leave”—from her culinary education and her long range goal of becoming a world-class pastry chef. She launched a seasonal business, “MW Creations,” and is preparing Christmas goodies for customers in the Pelican Rapids lakes area.

Leave your Christmas baking and goodie-making to a pro. 

That’s the message from Madison Waller, who has learned the trade from some of the best chefs in the profession. 

The Pelican Rapids 2018 graduate is a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, in Napa Valley California. Her goal: Any restaurant with 1-3 Michelin star rating. 

For those of us with diner and cheeseburger mentality, a Michelin star is the hallmark of culinary excellence. Michelin stars are awarded to restaurants judged to be of a particularly high standard—and those stars are much-coveted by chefs around the world.

Back h0me for the holidays Waller is back in the kitchen, with a “pop-up” business—offering baked delights in the Pelican area, under her business name MW Creations. She filled a bunch of Thanksgiving orders, and the oven is hot for the Christmas season. 

She has advertized trays of cookies, caramels, truffles, cookies, rosettes, palmiers and fudge—by order in December. Her prices range from as littles as $6 for candied nuts, to $45 for a party tray. Many of the orders can be filled from the Waller home, and she has an arrangement with Larry’s Super Market to access a commercial kitchen for larger orders. 

“I specialized in advanced baking and pastry arts with a small amount of training in culinary basics,” said Madison of her education in Napa. She is also diversified—certified in Wine Studies.

Her interest in the kitchen has been nearly life-long, creating her first wedding cake at age 15. Mostly self-taught, until now, she cooked and baked for a number of events while a Pelican Rapids student.

Once she got going, she “never stopped baking…I knew since I first baked I wanted to do this everyday.” 

Her goals are ambitious. She plans to advance with the Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, New York, after spending some time here. 

“I have the option to get my bachelor’s degree in Food Business with a concentration in advanced baking and pastry,” said Waller. 

She also has her sights on studying under a pastry chef in Switzerland in the future. “I’m fascinated by chocolate, and switzerland is known for its chocolate—plus it is beautiful there,” she noted. 

The culinary institute is a rigorous program. Only about 53% graduated from her class, due to the difficulty level of the program. 

While studying in California, she embarked on an externship at Devils Thumb Ranch in Tabernash Colorado. She has a year of full time experience under her belt, including at a resort in Boulder, Colorado; and she has also worked at Spanky’s on Rose Lake, north of Vergas. 

Madison Waller, after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, California. The Pelican Rapids High School graduate, 2018, plans to continue her education, including studying in Europe under master chefs.

“There I had my first fine dining pastry job at this resort,” she noted. “In my final semester of school, my class ran and operated the Illy Café on campus. I worked front of house making coffee and back of house doing the morning breads and pastries. It was a fun experience—having my classmates and I fully running our own café, we did the menus, daily specials, all labeling, and promotions during that time.” 

Of course, she wouldn’t be on a professional course without her Pelican hometown experiences.

“I learned a lot of responsibility in my leadership roles I had during high school with the Valkyries (dance team) and band,” said Waller of her Pelican school days. 

She opted out of taking the cooking-oriented classes offered in Pelican, but participated in an independent study of baking and pastry, which helped prepare her for her college classes. 

“I am excited to be back in the area for a while and be able to share my creations with everyone,” she said. “Being home gives me that opportunity to share the talents I have learned over the past 3 years… The COVID travel restrictions limited my options to go overseas to study under acclaimed pastry chefs, so I am looking forward to having that opportunity soon.” 

Her favorite dessert to make? 

Eclairs

Her favorite dessert—to eat? 

 Sticky Toffee Pudding 

To connect with Madison and her MW Creations holiday business, call 218-770-5181.

Tales of terror—and triumph—in the kitchen

Though fairly new at the profession, Madison Waller already has a few “war stories” from her time in commercial kitchens. 

Her greatest “fail” was fortunately, and heroically, a triumph in the end. 

“I had 400 strawberry truffles, and only two hours before serving, I dropped them on the floor!” said Waller. “The boss, Chef Chris, looked at me…he looked at the floor…looked back at me—and said ‘get ‘em done,’” recalled Waller. “In two hours, I finished them. It is usually a four to five hour job.” 

During school the assignment was creating a complete recipe, from scratch. Her choice was a challenging gluten-free eclair creation, and the instructor was skeptical. “He laughed at me,” recalled Waller.

Sunrisingly, when she completed the assignment, the chef-teacher was so impressed, he requested her recipe.