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Week 8 marks my second month completed of this 6-month program and the completion of Level I.  The days are flying by and I’m in full gear for Level II.


My first week of cakes was a rough one.  Once again I find myself without a partner.  My reflections for the week entail never throwing a whole mis cup of salt into the genoise recipe, interning will never be a glamorous job, and Marjolaine must have been a very complicated lady.

La Marjolaine contains many layers of goodness and was created by Chef Fernand Point who named it after a special lady.  If you can’t tell from the photo, here are the layers from bottom up: Genoise, Ganache, Dacquoise, Creme d’Or, Dacquoise, Praline Buttercream, Dacquoise, Stabilized Whipped Cream, Dacquoise, Praline Buttercream to coat, and finally chocolate glaze to finish.

After only 5 weeks into the program, the curriculum, my internship and after-school activities are beginning to take their toll on me.  I wake up with aches and pains every day.  Unfortunately, I had to miss class twice this week because of this.  This profession is truly not for the weak.  But I believe what won’t kill me will make me stronger!

I finally confronted my parents and I’m still alive.  Hooray!  After weeks of bringing back my daily pastries for their tasting, my parents figured something was up.  So technically, I didn’t confront them but slowly fed the the news to them.  Their reaction?  “What a waste of education.” (referring to my master’s degree) and “You’re too old to make the change now.” (last time I checked, I’ve only lived a quarter of my life).  Whichever way, the secret’s out and I don’t have to be black-mailed by my siblings for keeping this secret anymore!

The excitement and laboring never ends in the life of a pastry student.  Another exam plus the start of my first internship are the highlights for this week.  Some call my mentor a mad scientist and others consider him one of the avant-gardes of food science.  After a few days interning, I’ve witnessed the truth in both views.  Sorry Mr. D.

Unfortunately, I ended the week with my first severe oven burn.  It’s finally scabbing after a week’s time.

Another week gone by with more exams, another new unit (Puff Pastry Baby!!) and another fire scare… plus a research project.  Think I got enough on my plate??

This week’s battle scares involve oven burns and my first sugar burn (on my lip and my finger).  Note to self: “Sucking on your finger won’t solve your problems especially when there’s hot caramel on it!”

Week 4 marks the first month completed of my 6-month program.  Reflections?  Regrets?  None whatsoever.  I’m enjoying every moment even when Chef C is telling one of his bad jokes.

This week was action-packed with exams, a new unit, and our first fire scare!

No one likes exams especially when you’re me and feel the anxiety because it’s inevitable that I cram the day before each exam I’ve ever taken in my life.  But luckily I survived my first written and practical exams.  Honestly, I imagined worse but it turned out to be not that bad.  I did feel like I was on an episode of Iron Chef or Top Chef.  For the practical, we were all graded on taste, texture and presentation.  It was quite exciting and nerve-racking at the same time.

I finally learned the name of the dough that smells and tastes potently eggy.  We began our Pate a Choux Unit this week.  And I’ve come to the realization that I’m not a fan even when it’s dredged in caramel or filled with the creamiest and lightest of pastry creams.  I do love my swans though.  Luckily I was the baker for my half of the class.  The bakers for the other half forgot to turn the oven temperature down and ended up with black swans.  They looked like overly roasted quails.

Speaking of burned, we had our first fire scare this week too.  All the students and faculty emptied out into the busy streets of Soho.  Pictures were being taken of us by passer-bys and tourists.  The firemen came in their trucks and the tourists just kept snapping away as we were melting in the summer heat in our ever-so-flattering-pilsbury-dough-boy uniforms.   Did I mention how much I love the checkered pants?

Just when I thought things couldn’t get harder, I am steward for the week and without a partner which basically means I am a slave to the class for the week and short of two extra hands.  Too bad it was my Clafoutis that had to suffer for it.  Instead of fruit suspended in a baked custard, it more so resembled a baked fruit custard pizza.  But the Bavarian and Linzer made up for it.  I devoured half of each all on my own.

By the end of the week, I couldn’t tell whether it was worse to be without a partner or have a partner that is absolutely clueless.  Still contemplating…  Luckily my crunch on time and hands didn’t turn my first full-size kitchen torch experience into a brow and hair patching experience.  How perfectly torched are those little Swiss Meringue rosettes?

Nothing like I could have imagined but ever so worth it.  All the jitters I had before the first day of class were gone the moment I stepped into the classroom.  Funny thing is that though I am in a room where stainless steel meets hours of labor on my feet every day, I feel right at home.  More so than I ever did sitting in front of a computer.  Sorry Chef K for toasting your perfectly trimmed mustache while flambeeing my apples for the Tarte Alsacienne!

As I stood there in line in the narrow hallway waiting for my name to be called to make my second payment for tuition, I felt as if I was in Purgatory and wondering “What the #@$% am I doing here?”  The anxieties and fears of having no job and leaving behind everything I had ever known to embark on this new adventure rushed to me all at once.  And I could not tell whether I was headed for Heaven or Hell.  Others around me look much younger and have nothing to lose.  But what have I really got to lose?  Six months of my life and $40,000?  I laughed to myself and came into consciousness.  I reminded myself that I am here for a reason and a purpose.  As the day progressed with speeches and conversations with faculty, experienced chefs, and graduating students, my fears and anxieties dissipated.  By the end of the day, I was sure I was in the right place.  Whether Heaven or Hell, there was no classification necessary because I was where I wanted to be.

The talk of grades, homework, attendance, and exams put into prospective that I enrolled into a strict and intensive program for the next 6 months.  When I got home, I tried on my uniform and looked in the mirror.  I started chuckling because I looked like a kid trying on adult clothing.  But this was definitely no make believe.