Passion For baking

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Arin Hiebert, as seen on Spring Baking Championship
Arin Hiebert, as seen on Spring Baking Championship

Arin Hiebert made his TV debut on the Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, making it to the final round.

“Everything kind of stems from my grandma. When I was growing up, we would always go to grandma’s house and she’d always be in the kitchen baking something.” says Assiniboine alumnus, Arin Hiebert, a graduate of the Culinary Arts class of 2012. Trips to his grandparents’ house each summer as a child helped pave the path to Arin’s career as a pastry chef.

“I knew I wanted to get into culinary arts and become a chef. Over the years, it started to slowly progress into me wanting to become a pastry chef rather than a savoury chef.”

So, when he graduated from Killarney School, he enrolled in Culinary Arts at Assiniboine.

Now, Arin works as a Pastry Chef de Partie at the Hotel Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, Alberta. Before his most recent post at the Palliser, Arin worked at other Fairmont hotels, first with a summer job at the Fairmont Banff Springs and then a full-time gig there following graduation. Months later, when Arin decided that he wanted to pursue his Red Seal certification, he hit a road block—the Alberta apprenticeship program would only recognize culinary schooling from Alberta. Not wanting to start over, he moved back to Manitoba and started a job with the Fairmont Winnipeg, his first professional step into pastries, as he pursued his Red Seal.

“When I was in Winnipeg, I was the only one working in the pastry department,” said Arin. “I was very fortunate that my manager was open to me creating and exploring different things to increase my knowledge of pastry.”

Two years later, he obtained his Red Seal and was ready for another change, and to move back West.

It was funny because I wrote my Red Seal exam and within probably two days a position came up at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary.

“When I got home [from the interview], I checked the mail and funny enough my marks were in the mail already for my Red Seal exam and I’d passed. The next day the Palliser sent me a job offer. It was like all the stars aligned within a crazy week.”

Nearly a decade into his culinary career, Arin is still excited for what’s to come.

“You go in to do the same thing every day—bake beautiful pastries—but no day is ever the same, so it’s always exciting to see what the day has in store for me.”

This past year amplified that excitement when Arin appeared on The Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship. The show, filmed during summer 2019, aired on The Food Network this past spring.

Arin working on his cake, as seen on Spring Baking Championship
Arin working on his cake, as seen on Spring Baking Championship

“I’m very goofy. Very animated. I have a large personality,” said Arin on what helped him make the cut after being recruited to audition and taking part in several calls and video interviews with casting and executive producers. His Spring Baking Championship journey took him to the final episode of competition where he finished as a runner-up.

“Through the competition you kind of give yourself mini goals,” said Arin, setting a goal to get to a certain future episode each time he advanced. “Then you start getting further and further and you’re like, ‘Okay I have to get to the finale. I have to. I’ve gotten so far, I’ve worked so hard,’” he said. Despite the understandable disappointment of making it all the way and not claiming the final prize, Arin took a lot away from the experience.

You get chosen to fly down to L.A. to film and then you arrive on set. It all feels so surreal. You kind of want to pinch yourself.

But the weeks of filming following the initial exhilaration weren’t without stress.

“The days are quite long, so it can be 12 to 16-hour days just filming and being at the studio.” Days in the studio were filled with timed baking challenges followed by judging sessions and individual interviews where producers would walk contestants through the episode they’d just filmed, watching the challenges and commenting on how they were feeling at certain points. His training and experience leading up to the show, Arin says, helped get him as far as he got.

“You definitely have to have a good solid skill set, because you’re working so quickly that you don’t really have time to think so you almost need that second nature that kicks in and takes over.”

Now, a few months removed from filming, he’s still in near constant connection in his group chat with fellow contestants. “We’ve all become very close and really good friends. I would almost go as far as to say they’re like family at this point. I feel like I’ve known them for years.” The connections he’s made are a helpful resource. “There’s always times when you might be in a situation where you’re like, ‘I don’t know; I need help,’” he said.

“They’re all such a great support system and all from various backgrounds.” Arin looks back at the Spring Baking Championship as a career highlight.

“I would definitely do that again in a heartbeat.” That and his Red Seal certification stand out as major milestones.

And at the heart of it, he simply loves baking.