It is difficult to characterize Katlin Pfropper as either a Macomb alumna or a student because she is intensely good at doing both, as well as many other things, at one time.
She earned associate degrees in Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management, and is currently taking business classes toward a fourth degree. Meanwhile, she is a high school culinary arts instructor and the powerhouse behind Pfrosted, her year-old pastry and ice sculpting startup.
“Even with the pandemic,” she muses, “people continue to have a sweet tooth.”
The incentive for getting her business up and running came in late 2019 when she and classmate Jim Ford were invited to compete in the holiday edition of Netflix’ Sugar Rush. The team won first place.
“You watch these shows and think ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to be on one of them?’” relates Pfropper. “I was just blown away being on the set.”
Pfropper is no stranger to the competitive arena. She represented Macomb at the International Culinary Olympics, held every four years in Germany, and at the World Ice Art Championship in Alaska.
“Competing in these events with extremely talented individuals from around the world was astonishing in itself,” says Pfropper. “But having the opportunity to learn and work alongside by professors on these massive projects taught me more than I could’ve learned on my own.”
The connection she has made with those professors, as well as fellow students, is “lifelong,” says Pfropper. She continues to work with Jeff Wolf, her ice carving coach, in his business “Finesse Ice,” and also competes on her own at ice festivals, including in her hometown of St. Clair.
“My experience at Macomb is an experience that I am extremely grateful for,” says Pfropper. “The opportunities to grow in the culinary/pastry world were life changing.”
Pfropper first apprenticed at the elbow of her mother, who hosted Pampered Chef parties and made her children’s birthday cakes from scratch. Pfropper was always a willing assistant. From there, she progressed to the high school culinary program at St. Clair County TEC, where she is now a full-time instructor, enrolling at Macomb after graduating.
Pfropper is from a large German family who loves to eat, and she fondly recalls her Oma (grandmother) making her liverwurst sandwiches and other German comfort food. But when Pfropper is in the kitchen now, she’s more likely to be cooking pan-seared scallops, a recipe she mastered at Macomb.
“Attending Macomb is part of the reason I am where I am at today,” says Pfropper. “If you told me 10 years ago that I would get to do all the things that I have done, I would’ve thought you were crazy.”