After Pastry School – The Long Goodbye to 2015

2015 was a spectacular year, 2014 was not.  2014 was one of those terrible years that was the culmination of several not-so-great, tumultuous years.  Happily, 2014 is now two years in the past and the momentum of 2015 will hopefully carry me into a bright and shiny new year in 2016.

By December of 2014 it didn’t make sense for me to continue doing the same things that weren’t making me happy.  If you do the same things, you get the same results.  With my acceptance to The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts set to expire it seemed the only logical thing to do was to resign from my corporate job and move forward with a long-time plan of getting a pastry certificate and industry experience.  Pastry school started in January, quickly followed by an internship at a fine dining restaurant in February.  By the spring I had moved onto another internship, this time at a busy urban bakery, and finished out the fall with my first non-intern baking position as a seasonal baker at a farm bakery during harvest season.  Along the way I did a couple of one-day stages, a long-term stage at a weekly doughnut bar and volunteered at the Dana Farber Chefs Cooking for Hope event and the Nantucket Wine Festival.  After the farm bakery closed for the season I got my kitchen certified by the city of Gloucester to sell baked goods from home.  And bake I did, with great gusto, from mid-November through Christmas Eve.  There were (too many) pies, scones, cookies (oh so many cookies), cinnamon buns, cakes and cupcakes, all baked, packaged and labeled.  I had wanted to make the most of my “kitchen year” and I did, if I do say so myself.  I also created this blog, which started off strong and then, like most blogs do, somewhat fizzled.  I had a lot more time and a lot less house/yard to deal with when I was in school and we were living in Somerville.  The ‘burbs are great for long walks and lazy afternoons playing cards by the fireplace but the city is where you want to be when you need energy and inspiration to be creative.  At the end of the post I’ve included a slideshow of some pictures from November & December.  The goodies I baked, and sold, under my business name – Blue Salt Baking Co.

Most people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to drop out of “real life” for a year and pursue a longtime dream, something personally fulfilling and rewarding but financially challenging.  With the tremendous support of my amazing husband, Sam, a cashed out 401k and lack of tiny humans to care for, I made it happen.  In the first few weeks of 2016 I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I learned in 2015:

  • Baking is my passion but not my calling.  I love to bake and cook, I always have, I always will.  Food will continue to be a very important part of my life.  Someday in the distant future I’ll have my own place.  It will be tiny, the food will be fabulous. In the near future, ideally I’ll find a job that allows me to combine my love of food with my finance career.  That’s what I’m pursuing now.  Please send good thoughts my way!
  • Age is just a number, but if you don’t take care of yourself (eat right, drink your water, get exercise, sleep 8+ hours, etc.) your body will give you a number, and you won’t like it.
  • Mistakes and failures are going to happen.  You can think fast, act fast and fix it or let it become a disaster.  It’s up to you.  Most things are fixable or can be re-purposed.
  • Just because people are nice to you and ask for your help doesn’t mean they want to be your friend or even that they like you.  Yes, this should be obvious to a 38 year old woman but my mother was an optimist, and perhaps a little naive, and I guess it rubbed off a bit on me.  But I know better now.  Big thanks to those jerks along the way.  Lesson well learned, thank you.
  • I’m ready for a change, ready for the future and there isn’t anything I can’t do.  There are things I’m too old to do (be a state trooper, an astronaut) and things I’d rather not do (skydive, go back to school again, be a garbage man in NYC) but many things in life are attainable with hard work, sacrifice, a good spouse/friend/sibling in your corner and a whole lot of faith in yourself and the universe.

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