On the Day Shift with Pastry Cook Mercedes Vargas

It’s just before 10 a.m. on a December Monday at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, and pastry cook Mercedes Vargas ’99 is in her work clothes: a white chef jacket embroidered with the hotel name, an apron that shows faint evidence of encounters with chocolate and loose pants with a fine black-and-white checkerboard pattern. Her dark hair is tucked into a pillbox hat.

Vargas has worked for the five-star hotel for seven years. Her days are largely unscripted, her tasks determined by the number of banquets (the size of which can swell unexpectedly), seasonal offerings to be made (hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies around the holidays) and last-minute requests.

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