When Tim Fonseca first toured Boston College, he was in awe of the energy and buzz of the campus. His tour was not the standard one given to high school students and parents. While Fonseca did see the normal haunts of the campus, he paid special attention to the baking facilities and the different dining venues. Why, you may ask? He was in the process of being hired to take over the BC Bakery as the executive pastry chef.
Fonseca always had a natural inclination towards the culinary arts and he began to cultivate his talent at a young age. The mentorship of his mother, grandmother, and a program through his high school helped turn his love for food into a passion.
“I grew up in a family that loved to cook and bake with my mother and grandmother leading the charge.” Fonseca said. “I was exposed to both the savory and sweet sides of the kitchen at an early stage. With a natural interest in culinary and pastry arts, I jumped into the culinary program at Attleboro Vocational Technical High School while working in some local family restaurants.”
After high school, Fonseca attended Newbury College’s culinary arts program and completed specialty coursework at Johnson & Wales University. After this academic preparation, Fonseca began his professional career at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, where he was employed as an assistant pastry chef at the age of 19. He quickly moved up the ranks, becoming executive pastry chef by the time he could legally enjoy a glass of wine.
Fonseca decided after a while that he needed a change of scenery. So, for a few years, he embarked on different ventures, including a position as executive pastry chef for a luxury resort on St. Lucia and the head of a wholesale bakery in Rhode Island. His professional journey before arriving at BC culminated in his appointment as the executive pastry chef at The Four Seasons, one of Boston’s premier luxury hotels.
For 16 years, Fonseca headed the pastry division at The Four Seasons and received stellar reviews from the food editors at the Boston Herald, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine. Still though, he felt that he needed something different, perhaps an environment with more energy, excitement, and a different clientele.
And that is where BC entered the picture. On his first tour of the campus, he marveled at the unbound energy of the students, faculty, and staff. He accepted his current position as the head of the BC Bakery and executive pastry chef in 2014 and hasn’t looked back since. According to Fonseca, “[the atmosphere] had an immediate impact on me and still remains one of those incomparable things that I use to describe my job to former colleagues and friends outside of BC.”
While Fonseca does admit he misses the free Four Seasons hotel stays, he loves the challenge and variety of his work at BC. He explains that “BC Dining is always looking to push the envelope in all aspects of the culinary services we provide. From [serving] students and parents to athletic events to VIP catering, the BC culinary team will take on any challenge and that is a very exciting to be a part of and have witnessed first-hand over my past few years here.”
Fonseca dove headfirst into improving the BC Dining pastry experience, but he is quick to point out that the team had a plethora of baking talent before his arrival, which, he explained, “made my transition much more manageable because having a solid team in place can always be one of the biggest challenges of any move.”
Still, why exactly did Fonseca choose to come to BC? Well, if you ask him, the choice was easy. “The idea of joining a college surrounded by a culture of learning, arts, and athletics seemed like the perfect match for me,” Fonseca explained. “I enjoy the culture at BC, having daily interactions with the students brings a lot of great energy to the workplace.”
Fonseca’s tenure at BC can be characterized as a period of collaboration and innovation. He enjoys the fast-paced challenge of creating new desserts, bringing in unique products, and enhancing ingredients – and BC has reaped the rewards of his passion.
While university dining tends toward fulfilling the basic needs of students, Fonseca relishes upping the ante when it comes to serving the BC community. Most college students and faculty are lucky to munch on a tasty chocolate chip cookie, whereas Fonseca’s most elaborate creations have ranged from a Lemon Citrus Tart with Vanilla Bean Toasted Meringue to Fresh Strawberries & Coconut Tuile.
It remains to be said that the BC community is lucky to have someone like Fonseca who takes pride in crafting a dessert experience that is equivalent in quality and production to a luxury hotel like The Four Seasons. Next time you bite into that perfectly baked chocolate croissant in Lower, thank Tim Fonseca.