I should be studying for my chocolate quiz today, but I thought I'd take a homework break this morning. Classes started last week and are going quite fantastic, which is not surprising to me at all.
Monday and Wednesdays I start at noon with Advanced Baking with Chef M, who likes to be called just "chef". In this class, we will be making all the breads, desserts, chocolates, and retail bakery items for our teaching restaurant. We are getting the opportunity to experience real production baking. Perfect! This class is exactly what I want to learn about and Chef is just the guy. He has been a pastry chef for years and then went into teaching. He gives us awesome advice on running a bakery -- from not wasting product to customer relations. Last week we made chocolates, oh darn, and they were fabulous! My group made orange flavored ganache made with grand marnier and oj concentrate. YUM!! Another group made peanut butter, but it had coconut oil in it -- yuk. I don't think those two flavors mesh well, but that is just my taste. We have 8 different ganache recipes to choose from and we will be making 6 of them throughout the semester -- our choice. I am most looking forward to the dulce de leche.....mmmmmm.
Monday nights I have Purchasing which is completely boring to me. Since I have worked with purchasing departments so closely, a lot of this is not new. I know that it is different for a food service operation, so I am still going to have to pay attention. The good thing is that the instructor is hilarious and laid back -- and he knows the topic is dry. He does all the purchasing for the culinary institute and the college -- from food to equipment to everything else!!
Last, but not least, is my World Cuisine class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I have Chef S again from my intro to professional cookery last semester. Talk about fun -- we have 2 big projects this semester that I am SUPER excited to participate in, and we get to learn about several countries and their cuisines. It's not just about the food, but understanding the regions, people, topography, and what is readily available to cook. We have these 4 page documents we have to fill out for each country we are studying, it really is thorough. Another fun thing about this class is the paper we will be writing. We will be writing about our own family heritage and what foods that our families traditionally cook. This will be pretty easy because most of my family is really into our heritage and we have been digging up old recipes that Grandma used to make.
I think the best part about this semester is that the expectations of us as students has increased. These are not introductory courses like last semester, and the chefs have said that many people are weeded out from those classes. I can already name a few students from last semester that are not back -- and not because they failed. They are not back because they have an attitude of thinking they already know everything and don't think they need school. Well, I tell you what -- if you don't humble yourself, you will not be wanted in a kitchen. You can't run your own kitchen until you work your way up to that privilege. It's just that simple.
If I could pick the one thing that I have done right so far in this adventure is to put all my pride and other experience aside. I walked into my first kitchen job and told the chef, "teach me as though I know nothing about cooking". I put myself in that position and have stayed there. I started classes with the mindset of a child who is just learning for the first time. I have appreciated every moment I have in those classes and value each and every exercise, even if it's just practicing knife cuts. It's been a very humbling and rewarding experience.
If you know that you are not the best at what you do and promise yourself to keep learning from those who know more -- you will have a more rewarding career than you ever thought you could.