Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Second Thoughts?

I've always loved baking and cooking but I never gave a second thought to on whether it should be my career. I don't have guts to go into the food business because it's tough, fast-paced, and grueling. But recently, I talked to my cousin who goes to culinary school and it seems like something that I would really like. Don't get me wrong though, I still believe going to college to broaden my options is the best thing to do, but now it seems like I would really like to take my passion of food further.

My cousin, Liz, graduated from the University of Michigan and decided to go to culinary school. Now, this is a big step for someone who her whole life has been academically very well-off. She was a smart student and she graduated with a good grade-point average but I guess studying more wasn't the kind of work she wanted to do.

Q(me): So, you graduated from the University of Michigan? What was your major?
A(Liz): Yeah, my major was psychology. I switched majors alot because I didn't know what I wanted to do.

Q: How did you decide that you wanted to go to culinary school?
A: It was always a hobby of mine but during the summer of my sophmore year I took a wedding cake design class at a nearby community college for fun. I took alot of the things I did in class back home and people at church and friends suggested that I do something in it. More and more time went by and the possibilities of what to do after graduation was getting smaller and it was an option I had so I went to culinary school because I enjoyed doing what I did for a hobby so much. It was a better decision than doing something that I didn't even want to do.

Q: What about baking and patisserie attracted you?
A: Our family is really artistic and I feel that art just flows in my blood. So I love art and baking, and combining those things allows me to be creative through the expressions of food. Instead of a canvas being my medium, it's food.

Q: What do you learn in culinary school (baking & patisserie)?
A: Alot of skills! You don't go indepth alot because we need to hone those in while working in a specific place. But I learn alot of skills like piping details. We also learn formulas for certain cakes and breads; I know it seems like culinary school is just learning how to bake and decorate but there is a alot of science involved. We also learn practical things like sanitation and managment. We also learn modern decorating and what entails it. We make alot of fancy cakes and we learn how to make everything from scratch.

Q: What do you make in class and what do you have for homework? Do you even have homework in cooking school?
A: (laughs) Yes. In class we make different types of bread like sour doughs and pastries like danishes, donuts, cakes, layercakes and spongecakes; there's too many to name. But for homework we usually have to practice piping skills by making something over and over again. For example we have to make two hundred Happy Birthdays, filagrees and buttercream roses with buttercream or chocolate ganache.

Q: Have any interesting experiences while working yet?
A: I applied for a job at the restaurant Jardiniere here in San Francisco as a pastry chef and dessert plater. The restaurant is owned by Traci Des Jardins who is a contestant on The Next Iron Chef. The hiring pastry chef came up to me and said "you're pretty frickin gutsy to apply for a job here when you've never worked in a restaurant kitchen before" Within my first hour of plating desserts the pastry chef came to me a out of nowhere and asked me to make her an angel cake our of scratch. I had never made an angel cake before (since im not done with school) and I was really nervous but I did it . a day later they called me to offer a job.

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