Born in Monterey, California, Deanna Rushing grew up in Dallas, Texas but always longed to get back to the West Coast. And so, at 23 she took up her first serious cooking job in the kitchen of Café Pacific. Raised on a handful of reliable mid-century classics (think meatloaf on Mondays, beef stroganoff on Wednesdays), Rushing always felt drawn to food, and a few minor kitchen gigs preceded this job. But it wasn’t until her time in the 5-star Café Pacific, working under Australian Chef Louis Lambert, that Rushing was truly put through her paces. “Working with European-style chefs is the best way to learn,” she maintains, “Nowadays everybody wants to know ‘Why do you want me to do that?’ Back then it was just ‘Go do it.’ I had no choice but to listen to them.”
After a year at Pacific, Rushing stepped into a beautiful Louisville, Kentucky, bakery, Parisian Pantry, and struck up a rapport with baker Jean Yves Joret. “I had never baked before in my life, but I just had a feeling I wanted to work for him,” she says. Rushing apprenticed for Joret for the next two years, exchanging her hard work and drive for his knowledge and experience—and $3.35 an hour. Her education ran the gamut of traditional French techniques, but for Rushing, éclairs and the like were just background noise. “The first time I pulled a 100-pound batch of bread out onto a slab of marble I was in love, I was hooked. The texture, the smell—it’s a magic chemistry.” After just 4 months she could produce every item in the bakery, and once her apprenticeship was complet, she stayed on for another three years.
The close of the 80’s found Rushing producing breads for James Beard Award winning Chef Kathy Cary, who was just about to open her (now-seminal) restaurant Lilly’s. But a growing professional relationship with caterer-turned-restaurateur Susan Hershberg, with whom Rushing worked at a local lasagna dinner, soon drew her into the world of catering, and then restaurant kitchens. Rushing has partnered with Hershberg throughout the growth of her business, from the catering company Wiltshire Pantry to the opening of her restaurant Wiltshire on Market. Rushing has worked with all of Hershberg’s chefs and oversees all pastry and bread production. In early 2013, Hershberg and Rushing opened the doors of Wiltshire Pantry Bakery and Café.