Breanne Butler, a graduate of Macomb’s culinary program, has had her creations shouted out by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, earned a personal seal of approval from Martha Stewart, and designed pastries for fashion royalty. Not bad for a self-proclaimed “underdog” without the expensive credentials of many around her.
“I’m not culinary royalty,” Butler said. “Don’t forget, there are certain things that are constants. In culinary school, there’s only one way to make a chiffon cake or pasta dough. You could learn for $1,000 or you could learn for $100. I’ve witnessed it throughout my career – I’ve hired people who spent $90,000 on their education, and at the end of the day it’s all about technique, drive, and passion.”
Butler said that growing up between Roseville, Sterling Heights and Detroit, “the thought of going to a university or spending tens of thousands of dollars on education was always daunting.” She dual enrolled at Macomb while still in high school, saving money for her later studies and the opportunities that waited beyond them.
“There is no way I would have been able to move to New York if I had student debt,” she said. “Macomb is a gold mine. Don’t scoff at them or think, ‘oh, but I’m going to miss out on college.’ It might seem like missing out in the moment because you don’t have the dorm, fraternity, sorority, or whatever, but long-game, you’re putting yourself in a better position.”
After putting her degrees in practice at a bakery in Royal Oak, Butler moved to New York City, worked her way up to sous chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant, became Facebook’s in-house pastry chef (making viral creations like a “dessert slider” spread of cheeseburger cupcakes, sugar cookie fries and raspberry jam ketchup), and now runs her own company that’s catered to a diverse group of cultural heavyweights. She’s also finding ways to use her cooking talents to address the issues of sexism she says she’s faced throughout her career.
“The thought of people calling me right away – ‘can you come in?’ ‘can you come in?’ – is mind-blowing; I was so used to it being a struggle to find a job,” she said. “I’m so thankful for Macomb because they teach you the technique, they teach you the building blocks, then they say, ‘be creative with it.’”