Thursday, April 14, 2011

It's not all easy but worth it

I realize my perception of easy has changed dramatically since I started culinary school.

I recently brought a fruit tart to work that I made over the weekend in class. My co-workers thought it looked impressive. All I saw was it's flaws...the crust was slightly uneven, the kiwi not perfectly cut. But I was still proud of it considering how neverous I was about the assignment: design a beautiful cake that could sell for $35 in a bakeshop.

The next day when I brought the cake to work, and people asked me how I did it, I told them it was easy. My stress and nervousness of the day before disappeared when I saw what I accomplished. The steps of making the crust, filling it with rasberry flavored pastry cream, cutting up fruit and the struggle to artfully arrange rasberries, kiwi, strawberries and blueberries on the tart didn't seem so difficult the morning after.

But the truth is when I am in class the work seem more than a little intimidating. There are plenty of frustrating moments when I worry that I can't do something, or I feel like I am back in the third grade being criticized by the teacher for having bad handwriting that she hinted would doom my entire future.

But the assignments I've worried about the most -like being able to roll  out croissant dough and shape it perfectly, turned out pretty good. When I start to get too frustrated, I remind myself that our instructor has been doing this for nearly 40 years. I tell myself not get discouraged that I can't get something perfect the first time, or that it is a lot harder than he makes it look.

Success rolling croissants before they want in the oven

During the week in between I mull over my successes and failures in class. After a few days pass, my confidence increases. I realize I am learning a lot and if I keep I'll be able to make it seem as easy as the chef one day. For now my creations might not make the cut at Bouchon Bakery or Balthazar, but they impress my friends and co-workers and taste pretty good. While I have a learning curve ahead of me, for now I'll take that as my little victory to celebrate.

Success! My instructor called this mini tart beautiful!

 And at leat my most important critic approves.

Jeff enjoying a chocolate croissant I made in

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