The Night Before Pastry School

Shoes, back pack, textbook, ready to roll! Pastry school here I come!

Shoes, back pack, textbook, ready to roll! Pastry school here I come!

My bag is packed and my lunch is ready! I’m supposed to check in tomorrow morning at 8am to receive my toolkit and uniform, before class starts at 9am. I am looking forward to receiving my chef jacket most, as my name will be on it! This will be what we wear everyday for the program. We have to bring a calculator, notebook, pen, ruler, and lock (for our locker).

We also have to bring our own shoes – black, non-slip, no-scuff. I found mine the other week after searching several stores and trying on many pairs of shoes (looking for the right fit and comfort). I am pleased to share that Birkenstocks won, found at The Right Shoe in Vancouver. I can’t wait to break these puppies in! Continue reading

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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Elimination Diet + Vegan Carrot Cake

A couple weeks ago we started an elimination diet, after reading about it on the MindBodyGreen website. This wasn’t the first time we’d read about eliminating gluten and/or dairy for health benefits, but you never really know how your body will react until you try it. Basically it’s to test for allergies.

So, for the first time in my life, I have been cutting out gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, alcohol and fast food. There is just over a week to go, then we reintroduce foods back in to our diet one at a time, and listen to your body to see how it reacts. If you don’t feel good after returning to gluten or soy, for example, then you may have a sensitivity.

If you love butter, bread, and ice cream as much as I do, then you can appreciate how much of a challenge it is. What the heck do you eat with these limitations?! A lot. Forced to think outside my food comfort zone, and try more things that I don’t normally eat, it has actually been very interesting. I am hungry more often, and never feel too full really. I find that I am eating almost every three hours and feel like I have more energy too. This was after the initial cranky-phase!

Knowing that pastry school is just around the corner I am praying I don’t have any serious affinities for any of these ingredients, but maybe that will mean I become an alternative-baker. I think I’ll be ok though.

But one of the things I miss most over this past couple of weeks is desserts. Fortunately there are a TON of gluten-free and vegan baking sites.

Oh She Glows is one of them, with an amazing carrot loaf recipe. I just tried it out last night. You would hardly know the difference, and it is chalk full of good ingredients. [CORRECTION: since this post originally was written, we’ve eaten loaf and it tasted AMAZING – moist and packed with flavour. But then we learned the hard way, that spelt flour actually does have gluten in it. My boyfriend had a reaction to the loaf – confirming our guess that he is actually allergic to gluten. So instead of using spelt flour I’m going to try the gluten-free all purpose flour by Bob’s Red Mill next time].

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Let the career switch-up begin!

This is my last week of work in an office for who knows how long… After working in the field of communications since I graduated university, I am now embarking on a journey I have wanted to do since the beginning of time, it seems. I will be attending the Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver beginning at the end of this month, for a full-time intensive four month program all about baking / bread and pastry.

It is exciting and thrilling for me, and sometimes scary too when I realize it is going to be completely different than what I am used to. From high heels to clogs, from business clothes to a chef jacket and uniform, for example. ….actually, who am I kidding, that sounds great! Though, I still have find shoes before school starts. Stay tuned for that adventure in another post.

But first, I am going to enjoy the next two weeks off and charge myself up for school to begin at the end of the month. I can’t believe it is now days away!

I timed it well to have my new contact cards arrived this week too, helping mark this transition time. Can’t wait to give these babies away! Thanks to my designer friend Maia Rowan for the fabulous design.

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Today was also my last day in the office with the full team, so they surprised me with beautiful flowers and a farewell card. It was lovely, and they smell as beautiful as they look. You know who you are, thank you!

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On my way home yesterday from work, I had this wave of excitement come over me. I felt like I was 17 again, leaving for university to start school in Vancouver with a world of opportunity ahead of me….again!

Many people have been asking me what I will do after school and the answer is that I don’t know yet. I have some ideas of where I would like to work, but I am first going to focus on school and see what I learn. I am sure I will be better at some things than others, and that is what I am excited about right now. I have never make a croissant from scratch before and can’t wait to learn how the pros do it!

One day of work left, the friday of all office-fridays. Awesome.

Pastry School Here I Come!

It’s official: I am going to pastry school this year!

Before you read further, I’ll warn you, this particular post is a long one and shares how I came to this recent career decision. It all started somewhere around the time of this photo:

Jeanette LeBlanc helping bake in Terrace, BC, at the approximate age of 3 or 4.

Jeanette LeBlanc helping bake in Terrace, BC, at the approximate age of 3 or 4.

Well, I won’t go that far back, but there are many moments in my life that contributed to this pastry school decision. I’ll fast forward to 2014 and confirm that I’m still as excited as I was as a kid to be in the kitchen.

So, switching gears in my career from communications to enter the kitchen professionally may seem like an easy decision. It’s a big decision, but, an easy one. Continue reading