Leading Lady: Alejandra Pastor ~ Rising to the Top

Leading Lady: Alejandra Pastor ~ Rising to the Top

I recently sat down with Executive Pastry Chef, Alejandra Pastor, of Larkspur. As I walked into the back door of Larkspur, in Vail, Colorado, on a quiet Sunday morning, I was met with a warm smile of a petite woman, dark hair pulled back in a low ponytail, in a white chefs coat with a white apron. I could tell Alejandra was already frosting cakes; one by the sweet smell wafting through when I opened the door and two because there was a sure sign with icing splattered across her apron. 

"We have the place all to ourselves today and I have already baked a few cakes for us!" Alejandra mentioned with excitement. 
After a few minutes of getting to know the space and one another we chatted further about Le Cordon Bleu, being a woman in her industry, and of course cakes. 


Alejandra Pastor and Sarah Jacobs


Alejandra Pastor and Sarah Jacobs collaborate on a cake for Cake Muse, at Larkspur.
Photograph by Sierra Sturt


 "Ale", as she prefers to be called, has been in the pastry world for over 12 years and has worked from fine dining restaurants to upscale hotels, event venues, and private clubs. She has made her mark at each one and learned from all her experiences. 

When I asked Ale, "what was it that started that spark of inspiration to become a pastry chef?", she mentioned that she in fact went to culinary school and not pastry school. I found it to be a breath of fresh air to know that like so many, she pivoted from what she went to school for. Ale is sweet and humble, but don't let that fool you, she has quit the repertoire! 

Currently, as the Executive Pastry Chef of Larkspur, Ale is in charge of all weddings and events. She adds her magic touch at a premiere venue in Vail, Colorado at the helm of chef and restaurateur, Thomas Salamunovich [Founder and CEO of Savory Group, worked with famed chefs Wolfgang Puck and Thomas Keller, as well as at Michelin three and two star restaurants in France].

Unlike the recent show, The Bear, Salamunovich prefers to be called Thomas and never "Yes, Chef!" It is this family oriented style that Ale loves about working with the Larkspur Team. 


Alejandra Pastor


Alejandra Pastor, Executive Pastry Chef, Larkspur
Photograph by Sierra Sturt


Okay, let's go back to the beginning. Tell me about culinary school and where you had your "AHA" moment. 

"Joining the culinary industry was sort of divine for me. I was in a transitional phase of my life, wondering what the next steps would look like. That's when I saw a commercial for Le Cordon Bleu. On a whim, I asked my sister if I should apply and she encouraged me to go for it. The rest is history. It was through my externship that I discovered pastry. I was working at an old school French restaurant, La Gloutonnerie in South Beach. This is where I made countless soufflés. After that, I was hooked. The challenges of perfecting fine techniques made me fall in love with the craft of pastry."

Ales at Culinary School


Ale and fellow Le Cordon Bleu classmate         


 Ale at Le Courdon Bleu


 Ale and the team at La Gloutonnerie, South Beach 


By now we had moved from the kitchen to the front of house at Larkspur, sitting at one of the tables with low lighting and sparkling glassware set in place for the evenings event. Ale then went on to tell me that both her parents are political refugees in the US. 

"I am first generation American. My mom is from Nicaragua and she immigrated here in 1979 when the Sandinistas overtook the Nicaraguan government and became communist. My dad is from Cuba and he came to Miami in 1980, escaping Fidel Castro's communist regime. My sister and I, along with most of my cousins, are first generation college graduates. I feel so proud that I can be a part of a new generation, taking steps in life that our parents and grandparents always wanted for us. Because they came to Miami, I have been given the same opportunities as everyone else in the area. I definitely would not be here today if they chose to stay. Being in Miami, there are so many immigrants that it made my path in the beginning with my career a lot easier."


Ale's Grandparents 1970s Cuba   


Ale's Paternal Grandparents in Cuba, 1970's     



 Ales Maternal Grandparents in Nicaragua 1970's 


Ale's Maternal Grandparents in Nicaragua, 1970's


Can you share any memorable experiences or achievements in your career thus far?

"Early in my career, I had the opportunity to make a dessert course for the James Beard House in New York which was amazing! I’ve also worked with No Kid Hungry charity galas. Both were once in a lifetime experiences. But I also think that every wedding cake I make is memorable. Seeing the couples reaction when they see the cake is always rewarding."

Wedding cakes are memorable and no matter how many times you create one for a lovely couple, the romance of it never gets old. I am rather biased though! Like two school girls, we began to chat about our favorite cakes and desserts. It was a delight to find that Ale's favorite dessert was Tiramisu. She grinned and simply said, "I guess that's what happens when you are addicted to coffee". I think we can all relate! Second runner up was strawberry shortcake. I am beginning to think Ale was prepped with these answers because they are mine as well, chocolate is in there of course. But I consider chocolate a neutral, just like a little black dress, you can never go wrong.


Detail of a wedding cake with Aphrodite


Detail of a 2 tier wedding cake made by Ale and decorated with Cake Muse's Aphrodite orchid set. 
Photograph by Sierra Sturt 


What advice would you give to aspiring female pastry chefs who are just starting their culinary journey?

"A few things come to mind…. for starters, gain as much knowledge and experience as you can early on. You should surround yourself with people who are creative and driven, work hard, and don’t compromise on your standards; even if that means remaking something.

  • Be proud of the work you do. Your work becomes your life, so be proud of it!
  • Discipline is key, there will be a lot of long nights and stressful days.
  • Invest in good quality tools and equipment.
  • Have confidence! Be fierce!
  • ...and last but not least, wear compression socks!"

When Ale told me this, I could not stop smiling; mostly because of the compression sock suggestion. It is a great idea for someone on their feet for that many hours in the kitchen. However, it was the "be proud of the work you do" advice that hit me. Everyone should hear this often from someone, but, mostly we should be proud of our work and say it to ourselves on a regular basis. Ale has an ease and relaxed vibe which I can tell helps her tremendously in stressful times at work. 


Ale decorating caked with Empress Moî sugar flowers


Ale decorating a small wedding cake with Empress Moî sugar flowers.
Photograph by Sierra Sturt


By now we were already starting to decorate a few cakes and take photos. Ale jumped in, right away, with a touch of dried lavender to sprinkle on the top of a freshly cut buttercream and vanilla cake infused with lavender. 
I couldn't help but inquire about how she creates and finds the time...
"Honestly, it is my passion so anytime I find a few moments I jump right in to creating. I love to create fusions while also staying true to my surroundings and culture. What I typically start with is a base recipe that I like and start making small adjustments to the recipe to turn it into something I love. Sometimes it happens in 2 tries, sometimes it takes 20." 


Small Wedding Cake


Vanilla and Lavender infused wedding cake with Empress Moî as the décor.
Photograph by Sierra Sturt


Have you encountered any challenges or obstacles in your career as a female pastry chef?

"Not necessarily, I’ve never been afraid of using my voice to stand up for myself or what I believe in. I have worked with some really great people who see me as an equal, regardless of gender or race. I truly believe that my work ethic and my skill set have opened all the right doors."


Ale with a two tier wedding cake


Ale with a 2 tier wedding cake decorated with Cake Muse's Dutch Status sugar flower spray. 
Photograph by Sierra Sturt


Opportunity meets hard work, skill, and optimism. Ale's talent, passion, and determination have propelled her to great heights in the culinary world. I hope that her story serves as a reminder to never underestimate the power of following your dreams and pursuing what you love. It is through her story that we see the value of hard work and perseverance and dedication to her craft. It is important to reflect on the incredible journey Ale has embarked on. Each month I will interview a woman who is a story of success just as Ale has shown. Follow along with our new Leading Lady series for stories of inspiration, creativity, and success; where we feature a woman paving the way for the life she is building on her own terms. 

Written by

Sarah Jacobs


*** For more insight and behind the scenes of our interview, jump over to our instagram page, @shopcakemuse!


Back to Modern Muse


This was a really beautiful interview, I’ve know Ale since she was a little girl full of dreams and are very proud she has accomplished all of them. Congratulations Ale 😘

Mayra Samalot

Beautiful article! Ale pastor is amazing!!!!

Nila Pastor

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