Protected: Amour doux – yet another beginning

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10 more days…

10 more days to go!!!

And so this day, I decided to go for a cake decorating class at Le Cordon Bleu, MA. Ok, I totally know I will suffer there as my decorating technique is really bad but I will still seek to learn! It’s just a 3-hr class so I reckon it won’t be so bad.

It happens to be on the day when I signed up for the campus tour. Cool! The date coincides!

And so, the branch organised a farewell lunch for the 3 of us who will be leaving for US and UK, both for further studies. And big boss is leaving for Harvard too and though I love this man to bits, I am not particularly excited of the possibility of bumping into him at MA (ehheh).

Free dinner at The Soup Spoon as we have accumulated enough points but..but…the standards had dropped so greatly! Sigh! Why can’t you maintain the quality that you used to have?

 

From the bookshelf

Even if you are not in culinary school, you should enrich yourself with the necessary knowledge. Actually, all the more you should do so when you intend to venture into this world on your own. Unfortunately, I can’t bring these along to Boston, so Boston Public Library, I’m counting on you!

The culinary world

As I read up more, I found myself stepping into another world. The culinary world is an exciting one but not without pain. I felt that I am just at the tip of the iceberg. That’s so much, so much more to explore.

I’m no longer satisfied by recipes. I believe if you follow the instructions and inituition, the food can come out fine. I want more. I want to know the science of it, simple questions like ‘why do we use certain flour for certain recipe?’, ‘How much air was trapped using whisking?’, ‘Why do we use certain temperature for certain cakes, tarts, etc?’ These are really basic questions and there are many more questions I want to ask. I need to know the basics, the fundamentals because with that knowledge, I can then use my creativitiy to come out with different products. Hmm..I need to get hold of the book ‘Baking Boot Camp’ which I highly suspect will provide me with the answers of some of my questions.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the book that I’m reading and the kiasu me have borrowed a few more books by Michael Ruhlman. Koko has also made copies of Singaporean recipes for me to attempt. And today she made Peranakan Laksa! I certainly hope she could impart her knowledge to me in time to come.

Replies.

The kitchen smells of chocolate now and the oven is about to produce a chocolate cake.

These few days, besides researching on culinary schools, I have been emailing friends/blogger about culinary school. There were two and coincidentally, they are now in Le Cordon Bleu (LCB).

Basically, besides hearing wonderful/ scary tales about culinary schools, I thought it would be better to hear from existing students themselves.

Victoria of Decadence Cakes (oh! She bakes wonderfully well!) is in LCB, Paris and commented that the chefs are very strict and demand the best from the students. The classes are mainly made up of demo and practical, hardly the science of it which is really what I am looking for.

Joy, a fellow blogger, is currently in LCB, Boston and is enjoying herself thoroughly. Her reply?

short answer for LCB: top grade facilities & resources. Even though it’s separately operated from the European locations, the name carries a lot of weight. If you have any interest in entering the industry, you will build a very solid skill set here. A lot of the experience will depend on your own personality and maturity level. For me, the school offers all the parts I need but I’m also very good at expanding my own educational experiences beyond the classroom.

You know, at the end of the day, I think culinary school helps in building a solid foundation and knowledge about culinary arts/baking. Experience counts more and would be wonderful if you could work under a chef who is willing to impart the skills to you. Your own maturity counts. Even in choosing any university, if you enter an Ivy league college and then play half the time away, what you will get is shit out of it. It really depends on how much you want to put in. You reap what you sow.

I’m also now reading Becoming a chef by Andrew Dornenburg & Karen Page. It’s really a must read in helping to understand the whole process of the journey of becoming a chef and you really reflect as you read.

Ok. The chocolate cake is ready!

Questions…

… and be honest with yourself.

Over the months, as I googled and read books on pastry chefs and their beginnings, many of them had similar history. They had wonderful careers that fetched them great bucks. Some were accountants, pharmacists, lawyers and teachers, to name a few. However, in their free time, they cooked/baked (I’m using these terms interchangeably in this entry). Eventually, the mundane of work compelled them to assess what they really wanted out of their work, their lives and eventually they decided to drop what they were doing and entered culinary schools.

The successful ones (ok, I only managed to read about successful cases because they blogged about it!) went on to teach in schools, privately and opening up their own cooking school/ bakery.

Of course, they are always those who are self-taught and I have immense respect for them.

So, I find myself in a similar situation, somewhat. OK. I love teaching. I don’t dread it. It’s not pushing me to want to end my career, so to speak. I would like to think that I’m building my passion and it is one that could help support me financially in the near future should I not teach.

Knowing what I want out of this passion is important for the next steps which could be costly. There are three options that I could take:
1. Bake and learn from books and practise and practise.
2. Bake, learn from books, learn from others aka take short courses and volunteer in some bakery and restaurants.
3. Enrol in culinary school.

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Culinary school?

It must be the chef coat.

No. I think it’s the joy of seeing the surprised look and smile on the hub’s face.

I don’t know when it started.

The thought wasn’t new. Last Christmas, there was this game which we were asked what was one thing that you really really wanted (something to that sort) and I wrote on that small piece of paper – Le Cordon Bleu.

I started baking last year. Baking wasn’t entirely new to me. We all went through home economics classes in our Secondary School and I remember I aced it. I loved what was created in the end. They made me smile.

Over the years, I lost track of baking because the oven at home somehow went on a strike and refused to work. Mom was getting busier and thus her interest for baking waned as well. I was not really encouraged in the kitchen because mom was fussy about her territory and always nagged us on the mess we could create. 

Last year, the interest came back  because Ken’s place has got an oven, waiting to be used. I tried on the simplest recipe – the chocolate chip cookies – and when I popped them into my mouth, that kind of heavenly feeling came back.  Encouraged was I and more baking resulted.

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Monday thoughts…random

I spent a part of the early morning surfing Le Cordon Bleu and the courses offered at the various campuses. This came about when I was thinking of what to bake for breakfast for the coming branch meeting and KL’s farewell. Of course, I was also curious about the lives of those who enrolled in the renowned culinary school and wanted to read up on them (unlike hubs who loves Sci-fi and fantasy & likes to send me Star Wars’ youtube links at which I could only roll my eyes). Then I came across a website about a chef and her story portrays the lives of many who turned to cooking/baking after a few years in their jobs – the hidden passion that is waiting to erupt.

I wish I have started early and that I have an oven to work with in my younger days. I found joy…and pain in cooking but more so in baking. Yesterday, I baked muffins but it turned out to be a total disaster and I was really sad for the rest of the day which affected hubs, so I was told (fact is, muffins are so easy to bake and to fail in it is totally unbelievable). But I was all the more eager to try again, but maybe not muffins (something is wrong with the proportion yesterday) as yet. =p

So I surfed. The course at Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo would cost about S$22K. Seems reasonable. But then I thought again, I have to learn Japanese and French since the classes are taught in these languages and living expenses is high in Tokyo and that option is really out of question.

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