Meet Our L'Academie Family!
I hold a doctorate from Roosevelt University, Chicago, and spent ten years as Dean of the School of Education at Kendall College in Chicago, Illinois, where I learned some great culinary strategies and techniques (though never as good as my Mom's!). I also train American Saddlebred horses, and I especially enjoy reading, writing, landscaping & gardening. One of my aspirations in life is to complete my debut novel and become the next great American writer.
What an incredible opportunity to work with and learn from talented, skilled, and knowledgeable chefs in this glorious location! I look forward to getting to know the Gilbert community.
I started working in the restaurant industry when I was in high school. I started working for a Sushi Restaurant and I worked my way up and trained as a Sushi chef for a few years. In the quest for further education, I decided to attend the Art Institute of Phoenix and graduated from their Culinary Arts program.
I believe that food brings people together and is another form of language. I enjoy making food for my guests and I’m excited to meet you all and share the skills and knowledge of what I have amassed over the years.
While growing up I traveled to many foreign countries and had the chance to study abroad in France and Australia. these experiences gave me a great appreciation for different cultures as well as a deep love for my home state. So I set forth into the hospitality industry and became a General Manager by age 19, which led me to Eller College of Mangement at the University of Arizona. I then followed my passion for wine and completed my Sommelier certification through the Court of Masters Sommelier, and at age 22 I became the youngest Sommelier and Captain at a 5-Diamond restaurant where I maintained the 5-Diamond status for three years in a row. I also now enjoy a career in real estate, and still enjoy teaching everyone about the various wines from across the world.
Upon her return to Portland, Erica was finally able to attain her dream of owning her own business. Finales-Fine Cakes & Desserts was born in a small commissary kitchen in Portland's SE Industrial District in February, 2003. Building upon her cake decorating skills, she quickly became one of Portland's preferred wedding cake vendors. While building the wedding cake business, she also began to grow a thriving wholesale base.
Finales' wholesale business continues to flourish to this day however in June, 2017 Erica handed over the keys to the new owner. After 14 years, she took a long overdue sabbatical over several months, reflecting and planning for the future.
In May of 2019, Erica accepted the Pastry Chef position at the Facebook Data Center in Prineville, Oregon, making the move over the mountains to Central Oregon. After a couple years there, Erica's restless spirit grew and she decided to make an even bigger move. In April of 2022, she packed up everything and made her way to Arizona. After just a short time, she realized she wanted to make this her new home and joined forces with Sue in Sue Jacobs Cakes.
Hello everyone! I am currently a senior in high school attending Arete Preparatory Academy. At school I am involved in different clubs such as Student Life Team, Hearts for Others volunteer club, and my school’s mentoring program. I love working with middle school aged kids, helping them with their studies and adapting to campus life. In my free time I love to visit the beach and spend time with my friends.
My passion for baking has been with me for as long as I can remember. Decorating sugar cookies is my favorite way to relax and it brings out my creative side.
I’ve had the opportunity to take many kinds of cookie decorating classes from professional instructors and I have picked up many cool tips and tricks along the way that I’m excited to share.
I hope to pursue baking professionally in the future and one day have my own business doing the thing I love.
Chef & Chocolate Sommelier
Michelle has been in the culinary world for over 20 years. In her high school culinary program, she competed for and won a scholarship through C-CAP to attend culinary school.
After graduating from Scottsdale Culinary Institute, she worked in pastry shops and restaurants until she started her family. For the next 18 years she ran a successful business making wedding and event cakes.
In 2020, she left the cake world and decided to go back to school to become a chocolate sommelier. She now holds two certificates from the International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasting. She has been hosting chocolate tastings, teaching others about what makes craft chocolate and why it's worth the extra money to support the craft.