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Baker nabs women's restaurant fellowship

Alexandra Hare, a baker for Bourbon & Butter and Merge, has been awarded a national-level fellowship for up-and-coming women in American kitchens.

Administered by the James Beard Foundation, the Women in Culinary Leadership program is an effort to help women “break through the culinary world’s ‘glass ceiling,’” a press release said.

Hare will spend six months working in both the kitchen and dining room at Nico Osteria in Chicago, one of the city’s best Italian seafood specialists. She leaves for Chicago next week. “This program is letting me take a further step outside the box of just being a cook, or just someone who bakes pretty things,” Hare said. “I’m interested in much more.”

A Nichols School grad, class of 2006, Hare sometimes found herself turning to baking while procrastinating in college, she said, turning out baguettes when she should have been studying. “This passion for food, this passion for perhaps doing too much and loving it, is a long-rooted thing,” she said.

She graduated with a degree in French, and ended up attending the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center, in New York City. She graduated in 2011 with a diploma in classic pastry arts. She got an internship at Momofuku Milk Bar that turned into a full-time job there as a pastry cook.

Hare left New York City in 2013 for Buffalo, after the combination of housing and student loan costs made life uncomfortable. She went to work for Mike Andrzejewski, at Mike A’s at the Lafayette, then Bourbon & Butter, and also makes gluten-free flatbread and desserts for Merge.

In theater, someone who can sing, dance and act is called a “triple treat.” Hare said the Women in Culinary Leadership program will help her pursue her goal of becoming a triple threat of the restaurant world. “Not just work behind the line, but to see both sides of the restaurant and dining experience, providing good hospitality from start to finish.”

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