‘This is like the movies’

WSU student spent time learning how to bake in Italy, Switzerland, France



Elizabeth Nalbandian traveled from Jerusalem to Pullman in the pursuit of studying baking. Since then, she has studied abroad and became involved in the Carson College of Business.


From family inspiration to mindless scrolling through Pinterest, Elizabeth Nalbandian started learning to make pastries when she was a young girl.

Pastry-making became a passion for Nalbandian while she grew up in Jerusalem, and she said she continues to expand it through her experiences at WSU. 

Nalbandian would spend hours working in the kitchen with her aunt, grandmother and mother. As a child, she would also absorb pages and pages of professional baking books, she said.

While Nalbandian loved to bake, she said her parents encouraged her to double major in business. She ventured to the U.S. to explore hospitality at the Carson College of Business. 

Good friend Sarah Nehring met Nalbandian while attending an on-campus Christian ministry during their freshman year. Their bond began when they both realized they had shy personalities and shared the same passion for playing the violin, Nehring said. 

“I remember thinking how cool it was that she had come all the way from Israel,” she said. 

Nalbandian said there are two catering companies in the Carson College of Business that offer students learning opportunities to help build a successful career. Some of the skills include event, dining room and culinary management, as well as human resources and menu development.

The School of Hospitality Business Management Catering Services includes diverse menu options and helps cater events at WSU, she said. 

“Sometimes we have football recruitments,” Nalbandian said. “They have a lot of students that they really want to recruit for the football team, so we bring them over to the dining room and we have a big dinner for them.”

Nalbandian spent six weeks studying abroad in Italy and France. During this time, she said she worked with chefs, took pastry classes and learned about the history and culture of Italy. 

She then spent six more weeks interning in Switzerland at a bakery with a big production load, including breads, pastries, cakes and chocolates, Nalbandian said. 

“They had a whole room that was a little cooler than the rest of the bakery,” she said. “It was all rolling croissants, and that was a really cool experience.”

Nalbandian would ride her bike to the bakery at 4 a.m. when it was still dark out, where she would begin each morning by decorating cakes.

“This is like the movies,” she said. 

Being able to visually see how other parts of the world work in this industry was an experience that will be unforgettable, Nalbandian said.

Besides her passion for sweets, she also studied food and wine in Italy for four weeks. She went to different wineries and tasted wines, which she said gave her more insight into Italian culture. 

Nalbandian said she plans to graduate in December 2021 with a double major in hospitality and food science.