A Passion for Pastry
by Ashli Urano
Golda Sumpon’s journey from global IT executive to pastry chef is a testament to her dedication and the courage to follow her dreams.
Her beautifully crafted French macarons and pastries are available at the Frisco Fresh Market, 9215 John W. Elliott Dr., in Frisco, as well as her brick-and-mortar store Ollio Patisserie, at 7552 Main St., in The Colony.
Sumpon, who grew up in Sri Lanka, describes the island nation as being very cosmopolitan with a melting pot of cultural influences. While her interest in food started at a young age (courtesy of her mother’s cooking and her father’s appreciation for different types of cuisine), her own culinary knowledge went a step further.
“I also have fusion experience because Sri Lanka used to be a colony under the Portuguese and Dutch, then under the British,” she explains. “We have a lot of cultural heritage from many European countries.”
After graduating high school, Sumpon moved to the United States to attend college at Angelo State University in San Angelo. She was introduced to Texas cuisine and soon began experimenting with food in her own kitchen. However, it wasn’t until later that she recognized the depth of her passion for the culinary arts.
A Taste of the World
After earning a degree in computer science and math, Sumpon began working for technology company Hewlett Packard. She eventually became a high-ranking executive, managing multi-million dollar budgets while building her own team in India. Her role within the company allowed her to travel extensively.
“My mind was not on a culinary track at the time, but it was coming to a point where I would think, ‘Oh, this is what food from Northern India tastes like, and this is what food from Southern India tastes like,’” Sumpon says. “I started to figure out how the geography and climate of each region lends itself to a different background and taste profile.”
After 16 years with Hewlett Packard, she took a job with commercial data and analytics provider Dun & Bradstreet as senior director and leader of their global partner program. This position required continuous travel throughout the United States, giving Sumpon the opportunity to try different foods and expand her knowledge of a variety of cuisines.
Despite her successful career, Sumpon says she began to feel restless.
“I needed to do something for the community, but I was gone all the time. I also have kids and wanted to be more involved locally instead of globally,” she recalls.
Sumpon decided to enroll in Collin College’s culinary program, despite the challenges of continuing to work full time while raising a family.
“In between traveling, doing homework and attending night classes, I was trying to figure out if this was really what I wanted to do,” she says. “After a semester in culinary school, I told my husband this is something I definitely want. It’s nerve racking to make such a huge career change and totally leave it all behind, but it felt right.”
Initially, Sumpon planned to focus on catering, but soon fell in love with all aspects of culinary school. This eventually led to her earning three degrees in culinary and pastry arts, along with hospitality/restaurant management.
It wasn’t long before her love for pastry surpassed all of her other interests.
“With culinary people, it’s a real-time thing. If there’s not enough salt, then throw more in. You can be bolder with culinary because you know the result and can make adjustments. To my IT brain and the mathematical side of me, I like the structure that pastry provides.”
The Recipe for Success
Sumpon was determined to find the perfect niche for her future business. She spent time researching and experimenting with different dessert options, ultimately deciding on macarons and pastries. To further hone her skills and understanding, she took a trip to New York City to visit the bakeries of some of the most well-respected pastry chefs in the industry.
“I was able to meet with James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Joanne Chang” of Flour Bakery + Café. “We stopped by Dominque Ansel’s bakery in SoHo and also went to Thomas Keller’s Bouchon,” she said. “I wanted to see what their signature offerings were.”
Through this process, Sumpon says she was able to gain a better understanding of what customers were looking for and how to make her own business a success.
As she continued planning, Sumpon utilized her corporate experience by hiring an ad agency to create a name for her new venture.
“I wanted the name to spread love and joy, and be all-inclusive without being restricted to baking,” she explains. “Through an intense process, the agency suggested Olio, which is an Italian word meaning ‘a dish of many ingredients.’ We changed the spelling a little bit, then decided on Ollio Patisserie. I put a lot of thought into what we wanted to represent to our customers.”
In 2019, Sumpon began selling macarons, pastries and cookies from a booth at the Frisco Fresh Market. She was able to quickly establish herself and the business before the pandemic forced the market to close in March 2020.
She and her family saw that as the perfect time to build their own commercial kitchen. In June 2021, she opened Ollio Patisserie in The Colony, which she runs with her husband, the couple’s three adult children and a pair of part-time employees.
Ollio Patisserie’s menu is filled with an array of delicious options. Most items are available to purchase individually, as well as in gift boxes and sampler packs.
Croissant flavors include spinach and feta, ham and cheese, butter, cream cheese and chocolate. The pastry selection includes sticky buns, danishes and cinnamon rolls. Snickerdoodles, chocolate chip and sugar cookies are also available, among other items.
Sumpon offers some advice for those considering a career change like the one she made: “Be prepared to work hard and pay your dues while working your way up. … It’s not a fast road, but if you embrace the industry and go with the flow, you can achieve your goals.”
Ashli Urano is a freelance writer obsessed with competitive tennis, true crime and her Goldendoodle named Sadie Kireina.