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Pastry Chef Mom Shares Her Parenting Recipe

What happens when you combine rich creativity with attention to detail and extreme stamina? Sprinkle in a bit of culinary skill and you’ve got the makings of a pâtissier, a French-trained pastry chef.

These characteristics ring true in Flower Mound mom Lynette Shirk: She’s a highly skilled pastry chef who spent nearly 20 years working in the industry before retiring her apron for a greater cause: motherhood.

Shirk, an Ohio native, first cultivated her knack for kitchen tasks at a local pizzeria while attending Ohio State University. Upon graduation, the creative mind sought a greater challenge – professional training at San Francisco’s California Culinary Academy. And she hasn’t looked back since.

Over the next decade, Shirk climbed the ranks of American pastry chefs – most notably gaining the position of pastry chef at the Williams-Sonoma corporate headquarters. She points out that the most rewarding role, however, was working at a small San Francisco-based bistro. “There were 17 French-trained chefs working to serve about 70 people a night. That’s a huge ratio of chefs to guests,” she describes. “It was like being inside a clock; everyone had their own role.”

After paving her own path as a chef and entrepreneur (she started several culinary-oriented businesses), Shirk met her husband and decided to marry and retire her demanding cooking schedule. The couple relocated to Texas and welcomed their only child, Zelda (now 7 years old).

Just about the time Shirk “retired,” the creative mama put pen to paper and devised an inventive way to merge her culinary expertise with her new role as mom: She began authoring cookbooks (publishing seven books in about two years). Her most widely known volume is Wild Women In The Kitchen: 101 Rambunctious Recipes and Tasty Tales, a collection of easy entertaining recipes and hilarious tales from the kitchen.

When she’s not jotting down tried-and-true kitchen concoctions, the busy mom is still drawn to the kitchen, where she says she spends lots of time cooking with daughter Zelda. “She wants to make everything … but at the moment I’ve got her making her own scrambled eggs and she’s doing really well with that,” Shirk details.

The 7-year-old chef-in-the-making harbors a vastly cultivated palate; she was fed homemade purees of mango and peas as a tot.

At the end of the day (after dinner, of course), the family relaxes together while doing creative projects. For instance, the trio recently created their own puppets for an at-home production (directed by Zelda).

Creativity is key to the Shirk home. It’s obvious that the threesome feed off of each other’s innovative perspective on doing all things by hand. The Flower Mound mom admits that the pace of her life has certainly changed (“there are no more 2am shifts at the bakery,” she laughs). But, she’s happy to be hands-on in her daughter’s education and everyday life.

The stay-at-home mom and author is currently molding and editing a culinary school textbook. Though she loves inspiring others with her recipes, of course, there are some family secrets – the ones she holds close to her heart. What’s her signature culinary creation? A toffee cookie. And, no, she won’t share the recipe, she adds with a smile.