A high schooler who knows exactly what she wants to be professionally is a rare find. I remember my high school days. I was only concerned with making a C in all my classes, in the hopes of getting out of my parents’ home soon. If someone asked what I wanted to be, I didn’t have much to say.
But I recently met an extraordinary 20-year-old here in Austin. Her name is Aiko Lyne, and she’s Head Pastry Chef at Emmer & Rye. On her day off, the two of us sat down for a chat at the restaurant. When I asked what she was doing there, she told me her definition of a day off is to help in the kitchen and plan for the next service.
This response gives you an idea of how much Lyne loves what she does, and how much she enjoys being at Emmer & Rye.
Discovering Her Love for the Kitchen
Lyne discovered the power of food when she made treats for the upperclassmen who taught her how to march and play an instrument at the same time. Her classmates appreciated the gesture, so much that it caused Lyne to consider dessert-making and cooking as a career path. She soon learned about her high school’s culinary team and auditioned to be a part of it.
Through the culinary team, Lyne learned the skills that set her up for working in a restaurant. The team focused on fine dining and had a fairly well-equipped kitchen at its disposal. Lyne soon became captain of the culinary team, which solidified her drive to join a fine dining kitchen.
With her direction found and validated, Lyne started looking for jobs in Austin’s professional kitchens. Still in her senior year of high school, Aiko approached Qui, but was turned down due to her busy schedule.
Not one to give up easily, she went to Qui’s job fair. A dish washer position was open and she took it without a second thought. With a foot in the door, there was nothing stopping her. In a matter of months, Lyne was a part of prep, line cook, and hot app station. While working full-time at Qui, she attended the two-year Culinary Arts program at Austin Community College.
When Qui closed during the second half of 2016, Lyne’s job search resumed, as did culinary school. A chance meeting at Emmer & Rye initiated Lyne’s love for the restaurant. She found herself connected with the food philosophy, atmosphere, and team, and started looking for ways to work there.
Soon enough, she arrived. She began working on the pastry side of the kitchen, followed by a promotion to Head Pastry Chef earlier this year.
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A Day in Aiko Lyne’s Life
The former Head Pastry Chef at Emmer & Rye, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, transitioned to the restaurant’s sister location at Fareground, Henbit. This sealed Lyne’s ascension to Head Pastry Chef. Lyne turned out to be a natural for the job. Her leadership skills and collaborative nature have made her an indispensable part of the kitchen.
Her days are typically spent planning and prepping. What keeps the job interesting is the seasonal nature of Emmer & Rye’s menu. The philosophy is simple: cook with what you have, not what you can get.
To give an example of how this is challenging, Lyne once walked into work to find that apples–a crucial part of the dessert on the menu–were unavailable. A new dessert needed to be created for that day’s service. Talk about pressure! Needless to say, she took care of it like a champ.
Because she’s responsible for the final course of the meal, Lyne stays involved by helping other parts of the kitchen while waiting for dessert orders to come in. She views this as a learning opportunity, both in terms of skill and operations.
On her days off, the pastry chef likes to spend time with other parts of the kitchen, too, helping where and when she can. Her assistant, Kaitlyn, performs day-to-day tasks, like prep and execution. The two work together like a well-oiled machine.
When not in the kitchen, Lyne loves a destination-less stroll through the city, or time out on a kayak.
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Winning at Life
My time with Aiko Lyne left me speechless and in awe. I’m assuming you won’t think twice before agreeing this Austinite is quite extraordinary. She’s doing what she loves with passion, while enjoying the life of a young adult. Her humility is evident, and none of her accomplishments have lessened it. This girl is leading a team, hanging out with friends, reading books, and spending time with her family, all on the same day sometimes, without breaking a sweat.
Next time you happen to find yourself at Emmer & Rye, try the Maple Pecan Tart, Lyne’s very first creation as Head Pastry Chef. It won’t disappoint; I promise!
@theAustinot wants to know:
What’s one favorite dessert you’ve had at Emmer & Rye?
Can’t wait to try it