Six years ago, Amy Arnold was paralyzed with anxiety and afraid to leave her house. “I didn’t leave for two solid years,” she says, as she was naturally shy and often avoided people. Fortunately for all of us who have a sweet tooth, her perseverance and drive prevailed. “I overcame my anxiety with faith and determination.”
Inspired by her love of art, Chef Arnold found pastry to be the perfect creative outlet for her innate artistic ability. “I’ve never had any formal pastry training,” she admits. “It’s simply a gift.” Perhaps it’s genetic, as she grew up in a home where her mother believed all things were better when made from scratch, even bread. Nothing came out of a box or bag except the occasional bowl of cereal…when she begged hard enough.
Chef Arnold’s foray into pastry started at Blue Goose Bakery in St. Charles in 2003. Ten years later, armed with a decade of experience working as a baker and pastry chef, she joined DineAmic Group as corporate pastry chef in January 2013. Chef Arnold creates and oversees all desserts at Siena Tavern, Public House, Bull & Bear and soon-to-be Siena Tavern Miami. Diners rave about her delicious and creative concoctions, like chocolate caramel cake or ‘monkeybread’ with hazelnut cream, caramel and candied hazelnuts.
It was Siena Tavern, the brainchild of beloved celebrity chef and partner Fabio Viviani, that put Chef Arnold on the map. “I’ve become known for the gelato I make at Siena Tavern,” she explains. “I love making gelato! I’ve been playing with obscure and interesting flavor profiles for years at various places. I believe I have a gift for flavor.” Think milk chocolate and bee pollen or bourbon peach cobbler.
Chef Arnold is beyond humbled to be living and working in Chicago. “I had random jobs in the suburbs when I applied for this job,” she explains. “DineAmic gave me a shot. I had no experience –on paper, anyway – to show that I could handle this job and it’s been huge.” Personally, I knew Chef Arnold had talent after I took the first bite of one of her beignets, long before I got to know the person behind the masterpiece. She has come so far in her journey, and it’s refreshing to see someone who has a deep appreciation for all of the good in her life.
Here, Chef Arnold gets a little personal and opens up about her life, loves and famous gelato.
- Her mom was a nutritionist and prepared three square meals a day from scratch.
- She hates the 3pm wall that she hits every day. But after a little bout of being tired, she’s “rolling again.”
- She loves dragons. Yes, dragons. She loves their mystery and strength, and has a collection of over 100 dragons in all shapes, sizes and forms.
- She could live on bread alone.
- She would change her introverted personality, saying that life would be easier and she could advance in her career if she were more social and less shy.
- She once forgot to lock an 80-quart mixing bowl, which led to a floor full of meringue. She jokes that her assistant, Ian, says he’s just there to clean up after her.
- She changes the gelato flavors every month and sells pints to go. And she doesn’t use recipes.
- She makes every batch of gelato by hand. She doesn’t use a machine.
- She is an artist. She wanted to be an architect when she was younger, but sees the parallel in her current profession.
- She believes that she’s living proof that anything is possible.
Natalie Probst Photographs