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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Both the culinary and pastry programs began at the same time, so we were welcomed to the school together — seated on benches at family-style tables. Chef Tony lead the day with the an inspiring welcome, full of energy and passion. Then each Chef instructor introduced themselves to us, explaining their backgrounds and how they came to be instructors here – each story was different.

We were reminded that we are sitting in very special seats, and most everyone that comes to this school has chosen to take a leap of faith to pursue their passion in culinary and/or pastry. As a group, we defined what it means to be a chef and the qualities and traits they possess. Passion is an obvious quality that is required because you have to have serious Passion (with a capital P) to endure a professional kitchen – long hours, fast pace, etc. Many may not realize that students are not considered chefs upon completion of a school program, it is a title to be earned over time and a title to be respected.

As students, especially those new to the food industry, we were warned that we will feel new muscles ache from standing all day, and other tips and advice. I’ve already felt the aches of first week, but know i’ll adjust!

After the initial welcome and orientation overview, we were split into our programs. Then the rest of the day was lead by my two Pastry Chef instructors who explained the specifics of our program and how we operate.

I have read about going to school and researched school options for years, but it really isn’t the same until you arrive. I can’t explain it. It has been an emotional experience.

And I could go on, but don’t have the time. So here are a few pictures from school: an aerial sketch of the Pastry area of the school – where I will be for the next 4 months.

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Below is what scaling preparation looks like. We prepare all the ingredients in each recipe for each station in our class, so we are ready to make the recipe (it’s called mise en place, everything in it’s place). Everything in pastry is measured by weight too, using the metric system – so each recipe is consistent. Math skills are important here. I’m grateful that I’ve always been good at math!20140504-221210.jpg

Here is my pastry toolkit. The coolest school kit I’ve ever had!20140504-221226.jpg

And here is my station drawer. We have two students to a station and two stations per group. Some recipes require a partner and others are done in the group. In week one we made over 20 different types of cookies to learn all the different cookie method types, including making our own cookie developed from scratch! 20140504-221248.jpg

Ok, onward to week 2!

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