Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It makes me wonder what culinary schools are telling their students. I know when I graduated, they called us all Chefs, but I knew we weren't. I knew I had so far to go before I could wear that title, and my first job confirmed that every day. I didn't know anything! I had so much to learn.
Yesterday, a woman who graduated from culinary school last summer told me that I couldn't teach her anything new, that making cookies and cakes all day wasn't going to be enough. It took every ounce of will I had left at that point in my day not to hang up on her, but I used that will, listened to her whiny little story and wished her the best.
Just a little shot of reality: Pastry is boring. It's repetitive. It IS cookies and cakes, on and on, over and over, every single day. Every once in a while, a little creativity is required or allowed, and it's like a little ray of sunshine on your otherwise dull day. Witness the chocolates above. I made them at the end of a 13 hour day, because I absolutely had to have chocolates made before I had a day off. I pondered flavors of fillings all day, while I baked cakes and cookies, over and over again. I daydreamed combinations and tongue-tempting concoctions while I cut mousses into shapes and peeled and chopped apples into tiny perfect cubes.
Then, it came to me that it would be fun to layer the fillings, like peanut butter and jelly, so that when you bite into it, there are distinct layers, but when you chew, you get the flavors together. The "jelly" is the purple stuff, made with our grape jam, and the peanut butter is the golden cream, made with our peanut butter. It's not earth-shattering or life-changing, and probably a lot of people have done it before, but it was fun for me, and it made my otherwise long, repetitive day a little brighter.
I hope the two women who turned down the pastry cook jobs find what they're looking for, but I have a feeling that they're going to come to the same conclusion I have: You have to work your way to the top, by repeatedly doing every day, mundane, boring, repetitive work until you can do that work better than a lot of other people. And then, and only then, will you earn the right to make your mark on your profession.
And it's not just for pastry, is it? Weavers learn the same lesson. Weaving can be so deadly dull, so repetitive, and it seems some times like we have nothing new to learn. But there's always more to learn here, too.
As soon as I have one more position filled, I'll be back with you, weaving on dear B. Tell him I miss him! Give him a kick on the brake release for me! Until I see him again, I'll be baking cookies and cakes, over and over again, along with a little sweet sunshine every once in a while!