HUDSON FALLS -- Although Clarissa Porlier was only 19 years old, she had already left her mark in the pastry world.
The Hudson Falls teen was killed Wednesday in the house explosion in Salem.
A story last January in The Post-Star highlighted her scholarship award to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park (Dutchess County), where she was headed a few weeks later.
She had planned to earn a bachelor's degree with the hope of someday opening her own bakery.
Southern Adirondack BOCES culinary arts instructor Charlie Jones, who mentored Porlier through the program in high school, said the area had lost a "bright star, a shooting star."
"She was just a special young lady. She touched many people's hearts within the community professionally, in the educational community, as well as her classmates," Jones said.
Frank Vollkommer, owner of the Chocolate Mill in Glens Falls, had known Porlier through a BOCES externship at his business and hired her after it ended.
Vollkommer described her as a "very kind" and "very positive" individual with a promising future who never spoke badly about anyone and could turn a negative situation or encounter into a learning lesson.
The master pastry chef and instructor at the Culinary Institute of America urged the shy teen to apply to the school and was pleased she had started to blossom socially and professionally.
"I knew through my contacts (at the institute) she was doing very, very well. In order to be a good student there, to extract the most from the experience, you have to be assertive, and since she very quiet, a lot of my instructor peers worked on her being assertive and speaking up and articulating," Vollkomer said. "I told her that we needed to find her inner lion to really be successful in her field."
Vollkommer said he knew Porlier had the makings of a great pastry chef when one morning she had come in and took it upon herself to set up the display case.
"I came in around 7:30 in the morning and it was already done. She had her notes out and was diligent about writing things down. She did an assessment of what was needed, she did the finishing, she filled the showcase and it was beautiful, as if I had done it or my assistant pastry chef had done it. I remember patting her on the back and saying, ‘You've got it.' I told her she was a rock star," he said.
Volkommer had last received a text message from Porlier on June 27 telling him that she would be home for almost a month this summer and wanted to talk with him about doing a CIA externship from September through February.
"I told her that not only was she welcome here but that when her schooling was finished that she was going to come back and run the place as my pastry chef.
"I was serious, she thought I was joking. I said, ‘You can come back and maybe you can be a partner or something or run the business as a manager or when I decide to pull out maybe you could take over the business,' " Vollkommer recalled.
Jones, of the Southern Adirondack BOCES program, has set up a Clarissa Porlier Beneficiary Fund to help defray the costs of Porlier's burial. Those interested in making contributions may send them to: Trustco Bank, 3750 Burgoyne Ave., Hudson Falls, NY 12839.
"It's just a tragic loss," Jones said.