Reflective Journal (final)
Time goes fast!!!
We finished our baking and pastry arts program. I learned a lot, not only methods or skills; the most important thing I learned is how to be professional.
Last September, when I told my friend I am going to take baking program, she asked me a silly question: is it necessary to take a baking class? You can learn from cookbook, YouTube or Internet. I was doubt myself, but now I think I can answer the question, it is necessarily, because you will be educated on the various baking methods and techniques, and learn things that you cannot possibly learn on your own by just following cookbook instructions. In fact, even if you are a natural in the kitchen, it doesn’t mean you are a professional.
What I learned from the beginning to the end of the program?
On the one hand, I gained a solid theoretical and practical foundation in baking practices, including selection of ingredients, proper mixing and baking techniques, careful makeup and assembly, and skilled and imaginative decoration and presentation. I feel grateful can learn from those professional, experienced and responsible instructors, so we want be a professional chef just like them, show respect to our job.
On the other hand, I improved my personal qualities, I believe a good attitude will help me not only learn skills but also to persevere and overcome the difficulties I may face in my career.
As a baker or pastry chef needs to be organized and detail-oriented, for example, we making desserts often requires several components that must be assembled individually and then brought together to create the final product. Every ingredient has to be measured precisely and added in the correct way and in the correct order. School taught me be organized.
Be a baker or pastry chef, I think creativity is an important quality, more than other type of cooking. I read a news about the executive pastry chef Roland Mesnier, he was the white house pastry chef for 25 years, creating all the wonderful and beautiful desserts for every white house gala and state dinner. In all that time, he never served the same dessert twice. It is creativity.
Since I learned baking, I just understand how repetitive and demanding the work is, both physically and mentally. We must do many of the same tasks over and over, day in and day out, whether it’s making up thousands of cookies for holiday sales or decorate twenty cakes in the same look. So patience is definitely a virtue for a baker.
For the past year our class learning and baking together, we know how teamwork is important. We share mixing bowl, baking equipment and ideas; we always complete tasks efficiently and quickly. Everyone has strength and weakness, after trained we all know how to lead and follow, and we support each other as well, we all help, rely and trust each other. For example, the last month of school is order month, I was in cake station, I received several orders, that were too many to finish it, but everyone helped me to face this challenge and we beat it. It was a truly memorable experienced.
What I gained from working on the capstone?
It is the best chance to review and reflective what I learned, and to plan what am I going to do for my career as well.Graduated is not mean stop to learning. As a baking professional, never stop learning. Read. Study. Experiment. Network with other chefs. Share information. Join appropriate professional associations, and stay in touch with my fellow graduates. Enter competitions, to hone my skills and to learn from competitors. If I have chance, I will learn management and business skills. Keep up with the latest developments in technology, baking techniques, and food trends while you refresh your basic skills. Remember that learning to bake and cook and manage a kitchen is a lifelong process. Do what I can to raise the skill level of the profession.
Is this the life for me?
I always think about this question, from the outside, the life of a chef seems fabulous, where you see reputed chocolatiers and bread artisans work their magic for the appreciative masses. It is truly a glamorous life. But in real life it also needs a great deal of passion and a genuine love for food and the mechanics of cooking. Talent is a pre-requisite, as is investing a part of ourselves into our craft because there is simply no place for mistakes. Being a pastry chef is tempting, but to do the task half-heartedly, would be doing it great disservice. So if there’s even a trace of dalliance in your approach to work, this may not be an interest you’d want to pursue professionally. I know I should be more confident about my new life, If done right however, I can bet that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow will yield gold both emotionally and professionally, yes, it is my life.