These were the words of one of my pastry chefs instructors on our first day. He checked our uniforms, a white tunic, red apron, long pants, covered shoes and a hat. Buttons need to be fastened, clothes clean and ironed, hair neatly tied up in a pony tail or a bun, no jewelry. Though it might sound strict, my first classes were full of excitement and fun. Not to mention that the three instructors I’ve met so far are visibly passionate not only about pastry, but about teaching others this wonderful, yet complex and demanding profession.
What did we do ?
So far we had two practical classes. The first one was orientation around the pastry lab, we received our uniforms, went thru the Covid protocol etc.
During the second class, we learned a few piping techniques and tips and tricks regarding piping bags and nozzles. Each of us was positioned at their station, piping bags in one hand, margarine in the other, determination in our eyes, thinking it can’t be too complicated. It can’t be difficult to keep a straight line, put a bit of pressure on the bag, squirt some fake cream and imagine it’s a beautiful rosette. Wroooong!
We all managed to produce some squiggly lines, the ugliest of rosettes, some weird looking shells and plenty of blobs. Mostly faux cream blobs. We cursed our shaking hands and wondered where exactly is 1 cm from the table. Yes, 1 cm from the surface so here or here or here ? Should I hold my breath, maybe that would help ? Am I squeezing too hard ? Damn, now I have margarine all over my hands and the damn thing is so greasy. I managed to keep my piping bag and hands relatively clean, but someone’s bag exploded on two occasions. Not one, but two! Those are some pretty sturdy piping bags, so no clue how that happened.
Apart from that, we learned how to make paper cones for decorating and writing with chocolate. It was hilarious to see grown ass people trying to follow some instructions that seemed so easy and fiddling with paper. First grade art class all over again. My brain could understand the steps but actually making my hands maneuver the paper, carefully placing the corners, fold, create a sharp point… different story. We all managed eventually but it was hysterical to watch us struggling.
Since practice makes progress, I’ve been practicing at home. As a result, I have 1 kilogram of margarine in my fridge. Not even that. It’s labeled as spreadable fat. But it makes an excellent faux cream and faux choux, for which I am willing to ignore the horrendous smell. Having half of kilo or margarine spread all over the kitchen table is so unpleasant, even the cats refused to stay in there with me. They were like you’re on your own on this one. We have standards and that ain’t no butter.
As we move forward, we’ll have fewer theoretical classes and more practical ones. Honestly, I cannot wait for the week-end classes. Those will be full 8-9 hours long classes, dedicated to just one topic, such as chocolate, viennoiserie, event cakes and so on.
How did I feel ?
This moment has been in the making for YEARS. There’s no exaggeration when I say I’ve woken up every single day dreaming about learning how to professionally prepare desserts, be in a professional kitchen, surrounded not only by all those ingredients and equipment, but by people that have the same passion for making desserts. People I could learn from, talk to endlessly about the best chocolate or different piping tips and styles and with whom I could search for the best angle and light to showcase the beauty of a perfectly layered dessert. So finally being there felt surreal. Only once I got home late, under the comfort of the blanket and the night, I finally realized it’s real. Tears flooded my eyes as I thought of the day that had passed and what’s to come.
In short…I feel perfectly splendid .
If you want to keep up with my pastry school shenanigans or home experiments, follow my blog and social media (FB; IG) for future posts. The fun part is just ahead 😉.Likewise, you can hit me up with a comment or message or even a virtual coffee date. I’m a big fan of those since the pandemic. Also, if you happen to live in Bucharest, you can help me with my homework.
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