Man behind the pastries trained with the best

LAUREN IRWIN

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Behind the cheesecake brownies, berry-filled custard pies and cream cheese strudels stands the talented Mr. Albert – Loyola Dining Service’s pastry chef.

Albert Riley, affectionately known as Mr. Albert to the Loyola community, began baking for Loyola in 2010 after spending 40 years cooking in the New Orleans food industry.

“Mr. Albert came to us from the Metairie country club, and he has extensive background in hotels,” Scott Goodstal, Loyola Dining Service’s executive chef, said. “I was looking for a star for the team in that area.”

Riley, raised 10 minutes from Loyola in Uptown New Orleans, began his career washing pots at a local hotel.

“I went to the bake shop and kept asking the chef, ‘I want to learn, I want to learn’ and one day he said ‘ok,'” said Riley.

The first thing Riley was taught to make was cheesecake.

“I was only allowed to put graham cracker crust in the pan. And then, maybe a year later, able

to start mixing with the chef,” Riley said.

After years spent as a pastry apprentice and assistant pastry chef at hotels such as the Marriot, Riley was hired into his first executive pastry chef role at the Windom Hotel in 1984.

Although somewhat fearful of being lead chef, “I found out if you treat people right, they will do more for you and they will do more for themselves,” Riley said.

“We try to put out hotel-style and hotel-quality desserts for students,” Goodstal said. “Mr. Albert has brought us a great product. Everyone is really happy with what he has put out.”

“Cooks and chefs can kind of wing it sometime, but when you’re a baker, baking is a precise science,” making Riley’s attention to detail, hard work and creativity noticed and much appreciated,Goodstal said.

Riley was influenced by a variety of chefs, mostly German and French.

“They pushed and didn’t play, and I thank them to this day,” Riley said.

Now Riley is that chef. Due to the strength of the Loyola bake staff, Loyola Dining Services has started an internship program with Delgado’s bakeshop.

“Albert’s so good I feel that it’s really beneficial,” Goodstal said. “It’s a great place to do your externship with someone with Albert’s talent.”

Riley loves baking, but he also loves Loyola students.

“It’s a pleasure coming to work every day to take care of them,” Riley said. “A lot of times they will ask me to make them something. I say, ‘Absolutely, just be back at five o’clock,’ and at five o’clock they are right back here.”

“Loyola is very lucky to have a person here that cares as much about the students,” Goodstal said. “He doesn’t want to cut corners.

No matter how many times I go to him and say ‘Albert, man, you are using way too much chocolate,’ he keeps doing it because that’s what the kids want.”

“I make sure to accommodate as best I can. It’s easy because it’s a labor of love,” Riley said.

That labor of love does not go unnoticed.

“I look forward to Catfish Fridays, not just because of catfish or hush puppies, but a lot of the times because of the cheesecake brownies,” Caroline Hoffmann, history senior, said. “I’m a huge dessert person, and the one thing that has never disappointed me about the OR are the desserts.”

Lauren Irwin can be reached at [email protected]

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