Why I am not following my dream

Around this time last year I was full-swing in the midst of my pastry school experience and I cannot deny that it was one of the best experiences of my life. Seriously.  You can read in my previous posts about why I chose to go, and how intensely I am passionate about baking. I love both the science of it and the artistic elements required to make beautiful desserts. I have grown particularly fond of cake decorating, as you may have noticed in my Instagram feed.

Julia Child says, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”

I have to admit, this quote still rings true for me but I view it differently than I did last year. Continue reading

Week 1: Passion with a capital P (and cookies galore)!

Well, it’s been one whole week, and it’s the night before my second week of full-time pastry school. I realized very quickly into the week that I won’t be blogging nightly, well, at least not in the first couple weeks because there is a lot to adjust to and take in, but I’m finding my rhythm already.

The first day will forever be tattooed in my brain because it was an anxious morning for me to arrive on time and settle in. But within no time at all, I felt completely in the right place, in a room full of like-minded people – there for the same reasons. I am very grateful to have this amazing opportunity/experience and it was an emotion filled day for me.

On a side note: I received an email from my Twitter account recently, congratulating me on 5 years of tweeting @beyondthedough. The account started when I began this blog, which means I have been blogging here for 5 years. I find it a wonderful coincidence that this anniversary falls on the same week as my first week of pastry school. A good sign.

Back to first week: the first morning in school consisted of checking in, receiving our uniforms, toolkits, getting a locker in the change room, finding our stations, and meeting everyone. Here I am below in my uniform, at the end of Day 2, notice my name is embroidered on the jacket – TOTALLY AWESOME!

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Knife Skills 101 with Chef Kelly Schoultz

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A few months ago some friends and I realized we shared an interest in gaining better knife skills in the kitchen. Another friend is a trained chef, Kelly Schoultz, and offered to lead a knife skills class for us based out of one friend’s home. The class was arranged over this past weekend, one day. It was a fun and educational event with friends, learning to chop vegetables and fruit more efficiently than ever before – knife skills 101.

Kelly is a true whiz in the kitchen! She is full of energy, super friendly and a great teacher. We were all impressed with her speed and precision.

We were instructed to bring our own knives from our kitchens, a cutting board, and some containers to bring food home in. She provided a handout too with information about basic knife skills.

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The Pastry School Switch-up with Amanda Goats

Orange Tyme Curd Tart

Orange thyme curd tart ganished with fresh thyme and a plump blackberry.

I arrived in Amanda’s north shore home kitchen on a Monday afternoon and was offered, “an after school snack” that trumps all of my previous after-school snack experiences: an orange thyme curd tart. Garnished with a plump blackberry and a sprig of fresh thyme, from her herb garden – in one bite it’s amazing. I had never considered the combination of orange and thyme before, but these are the secrets you learn in the pastry world.

Now a trained Pastry Chef working in Vancouver, Amanda Goats shared her experience with me on the switch from a corporate world to pastry. Amanda grew up in small town BC, where food was the heart of family social occasions. “I have always loved baking, since I was young. My sister and I used to fight over who got to bake the birthday cakes… My mom would also bake all of her own bread. I guess it started from there”.

After working in the corporate world for a while, Amanda’s artistic side grew restless, so she signed up for pastry school. Instantly she said, “I loved pastry school. It was the most fun thing.” Her program covered all pastry and some culinary fundamentals. Despite the intense amount of detail learned in a short time, she said it was all fun including, “…black box competitions at the end [of the culinary course], iron chef style, and you don’t know what your ingredients are. It was intimidating, but really fun.”

French Macarons

A sample of her French macarons, not macaroons, I learned from Amanda the extra o is part of the difference between these and the common coconut cookie.

My after school snack slowly disappeared, and Amanda share more pastry adventures, including what her transition out of school. Fortunate to work straight out of school, she has now experienced designing menus and creative desserts. Amanda even shared an insider perspective on Dine Out Vancouver, where the menus are set with dessert, “On weekends we were doing 400 desserts per night, and I was having to make all that product.”

Is it what you expected? It’s a lot harder and grittier…than I expected. It is physically tiring, but you don’t realize it until the end of the day. It is very hard on you. …I find it comical cooking at home now because the portions are so much smaller. I had to scale my [pizza dough] recipe from work down. I usually make a double batch and I made one-quarter of a single batch here, which made four pizzas. I generally make a double batch [at work], which requires 22lbs of flour and 7.5L of water. …I am definitely a lot stronger.

 

What do you enjoy most? I like the people I work with. Working in restaurants attracts a different type of person, there is a different sense of camaraderie.

Where do you find your inspiration? I have subscribed to bon appetite for years. They are by far my favourite… Epicurious is a mainstay for recipe searches too.

Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

At home with Pastry Chef Amanda Goats

Where do you dine out? My favourite place [right now] is The District. It’s a Belgium pub and all the food is good. They do really good brunch on the weekend too. Fishworks is really good as well.

When did you start your SweetPursuits blog? Before pastry school. A lot of my coworkers and friends were interested in what I was doing.

Amanda is looking into starting her own side cake business now, “I’m excited to do this,” she said with a smile. Simply by talking to her you can tell she favours quality over quantity and has a pastry instinct that is sure to satisfy any customer’s sweet expectations.