Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Honeymoon

I'm feeling like the honeymoon of my new life and being in culinary school is officially over. I'm not even sure why I'm broadcasting this for all to read, but I guess I'm hoping for some self-therapy by writing. I am not having a good week. Plain and simple.

One of the biggest differences between "typical" school and culinary school is the following. In "typical" school, most of the time, you can kind of hide out for a while. No one around you really needs to know if you haven't got a clue about abstract algebra or deductive logic, because you can sit back, take your notes, nod, nod some more, and act as if you know what's going on. You might take a test and do poorly, but the only other person who would know is your professor. You can hide just about everything about your experience in "typical" school, again, for the most part.

In culinary school, you can't hide. Everything you do is witnessed and the Chef (and your peers really) makes a mental note of it. From the minute you walk in the door when he can inspect your uniform to the minute you pull your final product out of the oven - every step in between in observed, inspected, and evaluated. Some days, it's not really a big deal. Other days, I feel as if I can't do anything right.

Because you know me well, you know a few things: 1. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. 2. I'm extremely hard on myself. 3. Patience is never easy for me.

Put those three in combination with the above and you can just imagine what sometimes happens.

I can't hide my frustration sometimes. I can't relax sometimes. And I start to feel at moments like nothing in my life is ever going to be easy again. I honestly can't remember when I last felt that things were easy, so I know I should be over it by now, but I'm not. But the most stupid part about all this is that we're talking about pastry for crying out loud. I mean, should a cake or a pie really trigger me to have so much frustration and agony that I get overwhelmed with self-doubt and question my ability to be here and function successfully?

Here's an example:

You're probably thinking, "That Crunch Torte looks pretty good to me." And from the outside, yes, it does look OK. But I can easily tell you there are three major things wrong with it.

First, the inside cake layers are not cut to equal sizes. This frustrates me because I have done this well in the past and yesterday it was absolutely terrible and I feel like I took a gigantic step backward. Second, the chantilly icing that is used was a disaster again. For the third week in a row, I have worked with this product, and each week I have done things differently and consciously tried to improve, and yesterday's effort was just as poor as the previous two. So I'm clearly not taking any steps forward in this regard either. And finally, the rosettes on the top are still not good either. Some are better than others, but they're still not where they should be after my third go at this. In summary, no real sign of improvement. And all I have to show for it is total self-doubt and misery.

I know it's a cake, and I know it shouldn't impact me on such a deep level, but this is my life now. This is the life I chose for myself. This is the investment I chose to make for my future. A future where everything I do is inspected and evaluated and the little things matter a great deal. I guess I haven't yet figured out how to work through this because I'm still feeling crappy about yesterday, and on top of that, I'm feeling crappy about parts of today. Like I said, the honeymoon, unfortunately, is officially over.


  1. "Without struggle there is no progress" Fredrick Douglass

    Throwing some history at you but it is a quote I live by. It will get better. Anything you are passionate about you will take three steps backward to take two forward. You can rebound. Remember, "perspective".

  2. I think I read this via Laura Vien's blog and it resonated: "Don't let success go to your head, or failure go to your heart".

    One of the best aspects of this program is getting to meet people like you. Hang tough Carol and try to enjoy the journey wherever it may take us.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Ok, so I've never posted on a blog before, but Big Don and Dave Kleman told me to check yours out, so I figured I would. Had to delete the first post cuz I screwed up. Anyways, here a few reasons I don't think you should be frustrated.

    1. You're pretty damn courageous to even put on a chef's uniform. (They're pretty ugly!)

    2. People in South Carolina probably eat more corn bread that cake, so I don't really think they would notice the problems with the presentation. And people from home.... enough said.

    3. What the hell is a "crunch torte"?????

    Keep your head up!