SICE student gains pastry expertise with Duquesne Club internship

Mark Sovik

Mark Sovik

A student at GRCC’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education has spent much of his summer internship turning ground almonds and egg whites into a Pittsburgh private club’s signature dessert.

In fact, Marc Sovik has piped so many macaroons at the Duquesne Club — 1,000 a night — that he’s thinking of petitioning the French government to change the name to “Marcaroons.”

His Pittsburgh internship is the culmination of the long journey that Sovik took to the SICE classroom. Originally from Bethel Park, Pa., he already has bachelor’s degrees in biology and natural resources from Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio. He was running a durable medical equipment company in Grand Rapids but decided to finally follow his dream of going into the culinary arts. He enrolled as a full-time student at GRCC in fall 2013.

He will graduate in spring 2015 with an associate degree in culinary arts-baking and pastry arts, but he doesn’t plan to stop there.

“I will also be seeking an advanced certificate in culinary arts, as well as the personal chef certificate,” he said.

Slovik said he is gaining valuable experience with his internship at the Duquesne Club, a private club that dates to 1873 and counts Andrew Carnegie and George Westinghouse among its early members.

“Chef (Will) Racin allows me opportunities to do things that are really above my education level, but, nonetheless, he and his team of pastry chefs are quick to teach me new things and allow me to get my hands in things that I probably wouldn’t be doing until I reach the pastry class at school,” Slovik said.

Those new things include the infamous macaroons.

“The signature dessert at the Duquesne Club is their almond macaroons,” Slovik said. “I have to assemble, pipe and bake 1,000 of these every night. My piping skills have greatly improved and a task that took me three hours at first is now down to one hour and 45 minutes, so I am learning how to be more productive yet still put out a quality product.”

Slovik’s skills will be put to the test this month when he helps the Duquesne Club’s pastry staff prepare a dinner that will be attended by well-known chef and author Thomas Keller. Two Pittsburgh restaurants are preparing the food, and the Duquesne pastry department will handle all the pastries. It’s an exciting opportunity that he says he feels blessed to have.

His internship has left him more convinced than ever that his passion is in baking and the pastry arts. He said he hopes to eventually own a pastry or bread shop and would love to be a member of the U.S. Pastry Team. He said he hopes some day to give back to the SICE program, perhaps by teaching.

“I know these opportunities would not be available to me if it weren’t for everyone at SICE and their help and guidance,” Slovik said. “I consider it a privilege to be associated with the program, and I am always aware that I represent SICE and I do not take that lightly!”

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