The Northwestern College Magazine
Culinary alumni siblings fuse French and Filipino flavors at Farmers Market
Anna Mae (Dupra) Kucharski
NMC accounting associate degree, 2007
Attended GLCI 2008-2010
Stella, Red Ginger, Grand Traverse Resort, Nine Bean Rows
NMC general associate degree, 2009
NMC Culinary Arts degree, 2014
Red Ginger (sushi chef), Stella, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago-Beverly Hills, Trump International Hotel & Tower-Chicago, Grand Traverse Resort
GROWING UP IN MANILA
Anna Mae Kucharski loved to cook. But due to the tropical climate in the Philippines, stoves didn’t have ovens. When she entered the baking kitchen at the Great Lakes Culinary Institute (GLCI), she knew she’d discovered her culinary calling.
“I had never baked in my life. That was just it,” says Kucharski, who studied accounting until that fateful introduction to Baking class.
Kucharski, 38, and her brother Jun Dupra, 35, now fuse French and southeast-Asian flavors with their business, Merlyn’s Patisserie. Named for their mother, Merlyn’s debuted at the Traverse City Farmer’s Market last May, selling out their inventory of 800 croissants and “cruffins” to devotedly enthusiastic customers every Saturday. The most popular flavor: Ube, which comes from a purple, yam-like vegetable.
24 g Gelatin sheet
200 g Water
340 g Sugar
150 g Valrhona cocoa powder
180 ml Heavy cream
Soak the sheet gelatin in water to soften.
Bring everything else to a boil and stir in gelatin to dissolve. Set aside to cool.
FIND MERLYN'S GLUTEN-FREE RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE ON THE DESSERT MENU AT RED GINGER IN DOWNTOWN TRAVERSE CITY.
255 g Raspberry puree
112 g Water
224 g Sugar
pinch of Salt
21 g Cornstarch
10 g Gelatin sheet
Soak the sheet gelatin in water to soften. set aside. Mix raspberry puree, water, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch and water and add to pot. Mix and cook out the starch. Add the bloomed gelatin to hot mixture and stir until dissolved. Strain to a container and let cool.
“We wanted to put our roots in it,” says Dupra, who says his sister inspired him to enroll in GLCI after he initially chose visual communications.
Merlyn’s confections are crafted in rented commercial kitchen space three days a week. For the winter, they’re at Traverse City’s indoor farmer’s market Saturdays at the Grand Traverse Commons. On social media, find them on
. “More surprises” are in store for their second year; eventually they aspire to a brick-and-mortar location.
“It’s just going to get better,” Dupra promises.
GARRET PORTER, LEFT, AND DAKOTA PORTER, RIGHT (Business Administration 2018),
landed a $200,000 deal for their company, ActionGlow, on the ABC show Shark Tank in November 2022. The brothers formed the company, which manufactures patented LED lighting kits for sports gear, ten years ago. Garret Porter said they considered the late NMC instructor George Beeby, who taught Introduction to Business, “a valuable member of the ActionGlow team.”
EDWIN ANDERSON (Engineering 1969)
retired from a career with US Steel and now resides in Ludington, Michigan.
RACHEL ANDERSON (Education 2007)
is the new principal of Lake Ann Elementary School, in Lake Ann, Michigan.
MIKE BOGROFF (Turf Grass Management 2001)
is now Golf Course Superintendent at The Pines Country Club, in Morgantown, West Virginia.
JAY CASSENS (Aviation 2004)
With years of diverse aviation experience, Jay is now a senior airport development and real estate rep for Federal Express Corporation (FedEx). In addition, he’s an instrumentrated pilot and FAA certified unmanned aircraft pilot and serves as an adjunct professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s school of business.
RACHEL PLAMONDON (General Studies 2013, Web Design 2012)
has joined Unite Digital, LLC, based in Southeastern Michigan, as a software engineer.
KENNETH HILLIER (General Technology 1975– 1980)
is now retired from a career in industrial maintenance and lives in St. Petersburg, Florida. He remembers NMC fondly and says, “Keep up the good work!”
CHRISTINA (DOBRANSKY) HINDS (Education 1996)
has been announced as deputy superintendent of Northview Public Schools in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
BRIAN JACKSON (Engineering Tech-UAS 2017)
fondly remembers that he started at NMC the same fall that his daughter started kindergarten! He is now a staking engineer with Cherryland Electric Cooperative in Traverse City.
MICHELLE KENNEDY (AA 1973, Nursing 1975)
has amazing memories of her time at NMC. She has recently retired from a long career in nursing and lives in Sitka, Alaska, where she’s a successful bead artist.
TIMOTHY NIXON (Maritime, 1979)
was recently named one of Wisconsin’s top 50 lawyers, through Super Lawyers®, which recognizes top lawyers via a multiphase selection process of peer nomination, independent research and peer evaluation. Timothy currently practices out of the Green Bay office of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.
ANDY REPKE (Aviation, 1986)
is based in Massachusetts, and is a 20,000+ hour Safety Officer/ Captain flying a KBED Based Global 6000, with several safety awards including Gold Seal CFI, numerous FAA Wings Awards, and NBAA 17,000 business safety award.
LINDSEY (MULLER) SORENSON (Education 2006)
is now a consulting manager with Vynamic, a healthcare industry management consultancy headquartered in Philadelphia.
MICHAEL W. TAYLOR (Education 1986)
is now a full professor of education at University of Mary in North Dakota. He recently published a college text Perpetuating Joy in Affinity Spaces Through Intercultural Pedagogy and will have another book coming out in 2023. And in April 2022, three of his children all graduated form the University of Mary!
2023 OUTSTANDING ALUMNI -NOMINATIONS OPEN
Since 1988, Northwestern Michigan College’s Outstanding Alumni award has recognized graduates and past students for significant professional achievements and/or exemplary leadership in the local or global community. Nominees for this award should have demonstrated accomplishments that reflect NMC’s values of lifelong learning, innovation, integrity, and collaboration.
Have someone in mind?
Find more information and the nomination form at
. Submit nominations online or by mail by March 1, 2023.
Have some news you'd like to share?
Send your updates to
Join us on social media at:
Northwestern Michigan College Alumni
Northwestern Michigan College
VIEW CAREER OPPORTUNITIES