This Sugar Queen's story begins in Medina, where the young Ritterspach grew up the middle child between two brothers, making her the quintessential tomboy. With most of her grandparents, aunts and uncles all living just a few houses away, Ritterspach learned family values and hard work at an early age.
"Literally and figuratively, we're a very close family." Her youth is also when she developed many of the food memories that stay with her to this day. "I know that I will never ever make a pie as good as my mom. I've accepted that. And my Grandma Ritterspach has the most amazing recipe for soft chocolate cookies. It's a recipe I still use to this day."
Ritterspach graduated from Ohio State University with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in disability studies. Despite the degree and an aptitude for the work, Ritterspach knew that she was destined to pursue another path. "I have always been so drawn to the aesthetics of the pastry world," she says.
With her mind made up, Ritterspach approached Dawn Verwold, the owner of Medina's upscale bakery Crème de la Crème. She was hired as an apprentice and her career in pastry officially began. "I learned the basics of pastry production, and that 'the difference is in the details,'" says Ritterspach.
Following her apprenticeship, the budding pastry chef spent a year attending classes at Western Reserve School of Cooking, where she connected with Courtney Bonning. Before long, the pair was running a small pastry shop in Detroit Shoreway, Bonbon Bake Shop. "Within a year and a half we opened Bonbon Pastry & Cafe in Ohio City, where I was the bakery manager," she says.
As Bonbon's popularity expanded, so too did the young chef's leadership skills. "It was my first time leading others in pastry production," she says. "It really clicked well with me. Knowledge is meant to be spread."
Her work at the Ohio City bakery landed her and her partner in the national spotlight with an appearance on Cupcake Wars. The two travelled to Los Angeles where they competed—and won—before returning home, where they had to keep the good news a secret. "When the show finally aired, we threw a viewing party for our family and friends at ABC Tavern," says Ritterspach. "The place exploded when the results were announced that we won. It was one of the most fun nights of my life."
In search of a new adventure, Ritterspach flew the coop at Bonbon and accepted a pastry chef position at Luxe Kitchen & Lounge in Gordon Square. Since starting in April, Ritterspach has reinvented that restaurant's dessert menu, adding items like candied ginger cheesecake with blood orange and a lavender-scented strawberry shortcake.
As if that wasn't enough to keep her busy, she recently accepted a second job as Great Lakes Brewing Company's first ever pastry chef. "I love to bake with beer just as much as I like to drink it," admits Ritterspach. Diners will now find a more beer-focused dessert roster, with unique items like citrus and spice carrot cake made with Commodore Perry IPA, and a dark chocolate brownie made with Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, drizzled with salted caramel and topped with Mitchell's Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk ice cream.
Despite being surrounded by sweets all day, the 28-year-old pasty chef says she never tires of ice cream. "Ice cream is my vice, and I love Mason's Creamery," she says. "Jesse Mason is one to watch for at local farmers markets and food truck events."
With many years of success ahead of her, the ambitious young chef is eyeing more private functions and catering events. When asked if and when she'll hang out her own shingle, the always humble Ritterspach smiles and says, "I can't really project what exactly lies ahead, but my wheels are definitely always turning."