The Big Decision: Pastry School!

Hello and welcome! Thanks for reading my 1st posting on my pastry student blog for Chef2Chef. I have just crossed the three month mark of my nine month Classic Pastry Arts program at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. I have lots to chat about and many experiences to share, but I wanted to start by sharing a bit of the story of how I came to find myself in checkered pants and an apron on the doorstep of the FCI. It is quite an interesting story to tell.

Sifting Through My Passions
For a long time, baking was in my life, without being a real part of my life. It had its place around holidays, birthdays, and often during family visits, and get-togethers. It certainly played a role in my childhood, being the daughter of an avid baker, and the granddaughter of the creator of some incredible recipes. But for most of my life, baking remained a beloved hobby, like a stuffed animal that had its time to be taken out of the toy chest, and then returned later that day.

I had always known that I was never going to be happy sitting behind a desk for my job. And for a while, I thought that the theatre was the right fit and a great combination of action and creativity. Yes, as a kid I could often be found eating one of my mom's chocolate chip cookies, but I could also be found hamming it up in front of the mirror, or my family, or some other poor soul, who had to watch me act out skits and songs, often times in a tutu. Theatre was a way for me to express myself, and a way to create something new. I loved taking chances, collaborating with people, and seeing what we could come up with together. However, once the curtain came down on my days in college and graduate school, the life of this theatre artist became a bit less sweet. What once seemed easy and fulfilling became slow and verged on empty.

Like a good girl, I tried to market my theatre and writing skills to find a position in the entertainment field. These jobs came wrapped up in a 9 to 5 package with vacation and sick days. Not that these are bad things, but they also came with a desk. Slowly I found myself being taken away from what I loved about the theatre. I saw my creativity slipping out of my hands, and I did not know what to do.

Finding Myself in Puff Pastry
So...I baked. Simple as that. I found myself baking more and more as a way to fill the ever-growing hole inside of me. With each new recipe, I found a new fan of my work. Once again, I had found an outlet for my creativity and a form of experimentation, this time with flavor! My friends and family loved what I was coming up with, and I even had a few repeat customers for various orders.

The time had come for me to face things head on. Was I to continue down a path of desks and schedules for the sake of safety, or was I to set a new course filled with butter cream, puff pastry, and a big fat chance? It took many months of confusion, deliberation, and discussion with a chosen few (you know who you are, and I thank you kindly), for me to muster up the courage to say yes to change, and yes to the apron. Baking was about to become a true part of my life, in fact, it was about to become the part of my life that would allow me to become a truly happy and engaged person in this world. I don’t know if I knew what big a change this all would be, but signing on the dotted line has never felt so good as the day I signed up for the French Culinary Institute. A huge weight had been lifted off of me, and I was about to enter a world filled with risk, challenge, and a whole lot of butter.

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