Paul McCartney is simply having a wonderful Christmas time, and as I listen to him belt out his familiar Christmas tune, I simply cannot believe I am in my final week of my first quarter of pastry school!
Among other things, I have learned how to make the 5 mother sauces that are the base for all sauces (this includes the ever famous hollandaise sauce, people!), stocks, which are considered the base of cooking period, how to truss a chicken and fabricate a cut of beef (no easy task for a vegetarian), how to poach an egg, a piece of chicken, and a piece of fish, the many things you can make in a deep fat fryer (Paula Deen would be so proud – if by some miracle you don’t know her, please google her – she is an experience not to be missed!), how to fillet a fish (yup – I filleted a whole trout, friends – head and all!) and how to braise and stew.
I’ve learned that when you pour bleach down a drain, you actually end up introducing 5 new bacteria that you then inhale – no bueno! I’ve learned that you should keep your toothbrush away from the bathroom, because when you flush that toilet, vapors (and the particles in them) spray 2 meters – perfect range for your toothbrush – yum!
I learned that Mario Batali dropped out of cooking school and learned the tricks of his trade working for 2 years in Italy, and opened his first restaurant with only $50 000!
I’ve learned how to bake bread, croissants and danishes. I’ve learned that if I don’t work out 6 times a week after sampling these dishes, my butt grows exponentially!
Over the course of the last 3 months, I’ve also learned a lot about myself. In addition to pastry school, I work 3 jobs, have started a goal setting group for students at school which I lead every other Monday night, have become a level 1 certified ski instructor with the CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance), and have 3 other food certifications including Food Safe (this means I am certified in keeping your food safe in addition to tasty) and serving it right (this means I know when to cut you off when I think you are drinking too much!).
In 2011, I will be the pastry chef at and am helping to plan an event called Dished, a culinary fundraiser that will raise funds for Imagine1day, a charitable organization that helps build schools for children in Ethiopia (more information to come), will be giving yoga and cooking lessons ($20 for yoga, $50 for the cooking class, or $60 for both), and will be the main baker of bread and pastries for the school restaurant and other campus!
Am I tired? Yes! Has this new career path been easy? No! Have I been scared? Yes! Have I broken down a few times as a result? You bet (sobbing tears – good stuff!)! Have I had to re-evaluate my goals to make sure I was still truly doing what I wanted to do? Hell yeah! (the answer was YES – I am so happy to be in pastry school, and cannot WAIT to open my bakery in Santa Monica!). Do I like to admit this vulnerable, messier side in my pursuit of my goals? Heck no! But you know what? I think it’s important that you know – even in our quest to do right by our goals, and to stay true to ourselves and our passions, there are bumps along the way. We will break down. We will need help and support, whether that comes in the form of a hug from a loved one (thanks to all you who’ve given me those), a note or e-mail or verbal word of encouragement (I don’t know if I would still be standing without those of you who have done this for me) – whatever - we need them. No man is an island. As much as I like to think I’m a hero who can handle anything, it’s much easier and nicer to not have to do it alone. The truth is, I can handle it alone, but I really don’t want to!
Marianne Williamson once said that “the greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” So here’s to peeling yourself up off the floor after a sob session and almost letting fear get the better of you. For “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” (Nelson Mandela)
Fear by my side, I can see my bakery, and I can hear the bustle of conversation and the laughter over shared pastries and hot cocoa. Bakery, here I come!
To you, friends: Thank you for your continued support and dedication, your ears, and your time. I am grateful to all of you. I wish you a glorious day! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you need anything at all!