When you’re in a baking and pastry lab at JWU, you get used to being in a fish bowl. In each lab there are a row of windows through which you can easily see into and out of the kitchens. For the culinary labs, most of your time is spent to the side of the classroom where the ovens and ranges are and out of sight of on-lookers. But baking and pastry labs are another story.

Just about every day at school groups of prospective students, industry professionals, and members of the faculty and staff pass through the halls and stop to stare and watch. It’s fun when you are in class to wave to the kids or bring up your chocolate showpiece in the window to show it off to the deans. It only takes a few days into your first lab to get used to people watching you work. With the dish-pit being the only place you can hide, you have no other choice but to get used to these voyeurs.

Well, now that I am done with the majority of my labs and any futures labs I take being in a different building at school, I enjoy going into the culinary building and taking part in watching the students. It was so amazing the first time this year that I just watched them work for awhile. You can so easily pick out what mistakes these students make and how they could work more efficiently.

I wonder if I looked the same way and made the same mistakes. The truth: of course!

I watched as one girl in the Chocolates class very carefully and slowly dipped a ganache center into dark chocolate. She was concentrating so hard and working so slowly, that when she accidentally dropped the truffle from too high up and it smashed down to the center of the table she quickly looked around to see if anyone noticed. She then snatched it up, bent over slightly, and popped it into her mouth. It made me laugh; not only because she thought no one was watching, but mostly because it is entirely acceptable to eat anything in class.

Watching this unfold made me realize something important. Mistakes are going to happen, and it is the best way to learn. Take advantage of your time in labs and make as many mistakes as you can, because once its time to work in a kitchen, you won’t have that same freedom.