Chaya Conrad was born in 1972, and raised in upstate New York in the shadows of the Culinary Institute. Her mother would host Saturday night dinners for CIA students which sparked Chaya’s interest in the culinary arts. After moving to Vermont, she lied about her age (14) and got her first job at a local bakery. She also enrolled in a two-year professional food service program. At 18 she enrolled in the CIA and did her externship at Arnaud’s Restaurant in New Orleans. Following graduation, she accepted a position as sous chef at a country club in the Hudson Valley. A year later, she returned to Arnaud’s in New Orleans, this time as their pastry chef. Three years later at age 23, she left Arnaud’s to open her own wholesale pastry business, Half Baked Productions.
After checking that off her bucket list, she did a brief stint as manager of Bravo’s ! Italian Kitchen commissary bakery in Columbus, Ohio before moving back again to New Orleans to become the pastry chef at Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse under Great Chef James Leeming. In 1999, at age 28, the television crew of Great Chefs showed up at Dickie Brennan’s to tape Pastry Chef Chaya preparing Bananas Foster Bread Pudding and French Silk Chocolate Pie for their Great Chefs of America series for the Discovery Channel.
Several years later, Chef Conrad was hired by the Rouses Grocery Chain in Louisiana to run their bakery operations, where she remains today in 2016.