The Eating...Our Words 100: Catherine Rodriguez, Pastry Chef at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa

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Since the age of 18, Catherine Rodriguez has been a rockstar at making pastries and desserts. She started her culinary career at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu in Gilon, Switzerland, then traveled back to the States to improve and develop her pastry and dessert skills in California at various kitchens and the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco.

Rodriguez has taken courses in France to better understand chocolate and other desserts, such as cakes, tarts and other pastries. In 2004, she moved to Houston to continue her culinary career.

Who she is:

Rodriguez is currently the pastry chef at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, where she and her team create pastries, baked goods and dessert masterpieces for what she refers to as "the campus."

"We never say no to any customer or guest," Rodriguez says. "I can't even plan my days because they change. We work according to business; every day is different. I am still learning every day because we never say no, and take on any challenge."

What she has been up to:

"I have been to France several times," she says. "I was invited to France by Valrhona Chocolate -- it's the only chocolate I will use. They invited me to hang out with the pastry team, the Olympic team for the Coupe du Monde in Lyon, France."

Rodriguez traveled to France in January, and explains that this competition is the pastry Olympics -- only the best of the best compete. While visiting France, Rodriguez was able to visit many pastry shops, which gave her inspiration for new dessert creations.

"I used to love making tarts. Now I am into making chocolate sculptures," she says. "I made a 200-pound chocolate Easter egg. I build chocolate sculptures that are five to six feet tall. Now that I just got back from France, I am very inspired by all of the pastries I saw in the pastry shops there."

She explains that chocolate sculptures could take a month and a half to create. However, over Christmas she created one in a week. Oh, yeah -- and she's pregnant.

Who inspires her:

"My mom inspired me because when I was a kid, she would always be trying to make new things -- she was a really amazing cook," Rodriguez says. "She would grind her own wheat; she would make classical French desserts, like floating islands."

What she likes to eat in Houston:

With her busy schedule at the Houstonian, Rodriguez does not have much time to eat out, but she notes that she has enjoyed great meals at Hotel Granduca, Etoile and The Pass & Provisions.

Her future plans:

"I really love working at the Houstonian," Rodriguez says. "They really give me the opportunity to excel... I am constantly excelling and growing."

If not this, then what:

"I probably would have wanted to be a tennis player," she explains. "I played when I was in high school and I love the sport."

If not here, then where:

"If you ask me now, I would say Paris, and if you ask me a few months from now, I would say San Francisco," Rodriguez says. "I love Paris so much. You walk everywhere; you eat a pastry in the morning, walk around all day and don't gain weight."

The Eating...Our Words 100:

- Jody Stevens, Owner and Cake Designer of jodycakes - Bobby Heugel, Owner of Anvil, Blacksmith, The Hay Merchant and OKRA's Charity Saloon - Renatta Lindsey, The Taste Contestant and Houston Home Cook - Enrique Bravo of Pollo Bravo on How Selling Chicken Helped Him Realize His American Dream - Sean Beck, Sommelier Extraordinaire - Brooksy Smith, Owner of JerryBuilt Homegrown Burgers - Minh Nguyen, Owner of Cafe TH and One of Houston's Best Front-of-House Personalities - Tiffany Tyler and Aimee Turney of Central City Co-Op - Ellen Schwartz, Culinary Instructor & Private Chef - James DeLeon, Certified Sommelier and Craft Beer Nut at Kroger - Alex Padilla, Executive Chef at Ninfa's on Navigation - Kevin Strickland, Herder of Cats at gratifi, a.k.a. Ziggy's - Ron Chen, Owner and "Head Coach" at Rattan Pan-Asian Bistro - Brock Wagner, Godfather of Craft Beer in Houston and Founder of Saint Arnold Brewery, the Oldest Microbrewery in Texas - Blanche Kinze, Murray's Cheese Master at Kroger - Bear Dalton, Wine Buyer & Educator, Spec's - Sam Ray of Republic National, Houston's Largest Wine Distributor - Thai Van, Server Extraordinaire at Kata Robata - Dale Robertson, a Populist Among Wine Writers - Denman Moody, Author of The Advanced Oenophile - Benjy Mason, Executive Chef at Down House

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