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.

The Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver has accepted me in their Professional Pastry & Bread Making Diploma Program starting in late April 2014. I’m beyond ecstatic.

I plan to share my journey into the baking world here at Beyond the Dough, so stay tuned for many more sweet adventures. One of my next posts will talk about how I chose this school.

Recently, I applied for a scholarship which included an essay component. Below is most of my essay which summarizes how I arrived at this exciting career decision:

“Mrs. Walker, my high school home economics teacher, was the one teacher I related to most in school. But, I only took her class for two years. I didn’t realize then, that I could have made a career out of cooking and baking. I still remember feeling a little disappointed that there wasn’t room for the elective because my schedule was full of University pre-requisites. I wanted to go to University though, and leave my small town life for a career in Vancouver. Fortunately, I was good in math, science, and art too. I’ve come to realize this is a bit of a unique combination that I believe is useful in the pastry and baking world.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that I have to pursue this passion for baking as a career. As my friends, family and colleagues will attest, it is my calling.

After completing my Communications degree at Simon Fraser University, I worked in communications, marketing, social media, and special events roles for 10 years. I’ve worked with amazing people and experienced many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities:

I met the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton.

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Spring 2006, Power Within event, Vancouver, BC

I lived in London, UK, for a year, to experience a life outside of Canada.

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November 2006, visiting Tower Bridge in London, UK

And later, I worked for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Torch Relays, where I was a Torchbearer in my hometown too.

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2010 Olympic Torchbearer moment!

Above all those experiences, my long term goals have always been baking related. To date, I’ve tried to fulfill this desire by seizing every opportunity to bake, watching endless food TV programming, and even starting a food blog. I am keen to learn as much as possible, and it all fascinates me.

I started my food blog, www.BeyondTheDough.ca because I wanted to write about a topic I love and to practice my social media skills. The double entendre of the blog name is intentional and reflects my food philosophy: it is about more than the money and the recipes; it’s about passion for what you do. …The blog kneads together my passion for baking, food, and writing.

My about page shares a photo of the cupcakes I baked for my friend’s wedding in the summer of 2010. Without a professional kitchen or the means to make 200 cupcakes, I figured it out. It was the most cake I’d ever baked at once. Because I am resourceful and creative, I made it happen. I was determined to provide the best cupcakes I could make for her special day, and fulfill her vision and wedding theme too. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

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Despite my love for baking, at that time I wasn’t quite ready to make a career change, so I continued to work in communications in the non-profit sector.

Recently, my job came to an end when my department was closed due to restructuring. Instantly, I believed this was a sign – it’s time to finally enroll in a pastry program.

…On Valentine’s Day, no less, I received my acceptance letter for the Academy’s Professional Pastry and Bread Making Program beginning in April 2014. I confirmed my acceptance and I am beyond ecstatic. I even attended the school for a day to observe and participate in class.

…I plan to continue my food blog while at school, documenting my sweet experiences along the way. I believe that every good recipe has a story to it – from my Grandmother’s Norwegian Krumkaker to my childhood friend’s mom’s gingerbread cookies. I am excited to share this journey with others.

At this stage in my life and career, I have decided to take a leap of faith. My goal is simple – go to school and be immersed in a learning environment, surrounded by others with the same passion….”

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for many more updates from Beyond the Dough.

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