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« when one door shuts, another opens. /sometimes many. | Main | Chef Advice. on what it means to be a worker among workers. »

21 April 2010


Wow, this couldn't post couldn't have come at a better time, as the place I work is about to embark upon its first dinner service. Tensions are high, egos huge, and menu...all over the place.

Thanks for taking the time to post this!

I couldn't agree more, Shuna! And it's not just Pastry Chefs. As a lecturer, I feel pretty much the same. Worrying a little is perfect because it helps you see where you stand - it keeps your eyes wide open and makes you improve.

Oh, what a wonderful post! This baker from the heartland thanks you for some needed perspective (oh, other bakers' owners think they can make all this stuff ) AND thank you for the KITA and the support. On! On!

ah yes the worry...I'm no stranger to that...

your post couldn't come at a more appropriate time. I was hired to work in my home town. I have been out of work for 18 months so I was so happy to finally get a job and not have to drive all over the place. I have a "reputation" among the locals who know me from my dinner parties or from school events, so I was so proud to finally show my full range in a local restaurant. Then came reality with his brutal truth...the owner wants ordinary desserts, and insisted on having a carrot cake for dessert (!), the chocolate pave sounds too fancy, and adding chevre to the cheese cake is horrifying to him. A carrot cake for dessert....believe me I can make simple things, but I am always trying to use unusual ingredients like cardamom instead of vanilla for example to make thing less ordinary. In this restaurant only common things will sell, commonness will rule, sad....

I will have to bite the bullet, do my best and be grateful for what I have. I know one day I will have another job where I can be more creative, but that has to wait.

In the meantime I will dream through chefs like you and your desserts.

Thought provoking as usual... It seems the worry is almost universal. I love your thoughts/suggestions on keeping your inspiration--great, practical stuff.

Wow. I was hoping that one day I might feel a little more competent and less worried about my work, but I think the day that comes is the day I'm becoming too complacent. I agree with people being boring and not liking change too much, but some of the classics really are the best. I'm brought to my knees by a really good sticky toffee pudding!

Thank you for resisting the siren's song of sugar. Nice to see I'm not the only one thinking most desserts are too sweet. (Most) desserts need a sweet note, but it should be that, a note, among others. Not a steamroller.

I'm an eater. And I'm gluten-free and my kids (really little girls) are dairy/gluten-free. Dessert is almost always off limits to us. It's pretty disappointing. So thank you for speaking up for using alternative flours. I know you've always kept this issue front of mind.

It's so dejecting to hear from the comments that chefs think we don't want something different. When I go out I *want* more than anything to be surprised, delighted, taken-aback. Why would I go out to eat something I could make (cheaper) at home? And I don't need sweet or chocolate (though those are lovely things). Knock me out with peaches, do something crazy with nuts, give me some coconut ice cream in a way I haven't tried yet. Give me something pickled!

This post is wonderfully written and why I enjoy your blog. You write at the heart of the matter. I share your feelings in my own struggle which has little to do with presenting food but way much about having a profession I love and need to nurture properly. I can relate also being a baker and of many desserts as well in the past. What I love about certain desserts when they are a perfection in all their glory is they do become a classic in that I want to have them again and again. If you lived and worked still in the bay area I would be at your restaurant instant pronto and taking a few of your classes too. Thanks again!

What a great post, and I think it applies to more than just pastry chefs, but anyone who wishes to be innovative in their field.

I love the phrase "guerilla acts of change". It's so fitting. Thanks for this post.

Yes! I'm a dessert fanatic and I've pretty much stopped eating desserts at most restaurants because of the usual suspects on the list: chocolate lava, creme brulee, flan, sorbet, apple crisp. YAWN! From reading your blog this last year, I'm really angered by how pastry chefs and desserts are underrated. I realize that a lot has to do with the economics and efficiency of using ready made desserts delivered to your kitchen, but really, really? Are there no other alternatives? My only dessert indulgence out of the house is through a tasting menu where ingredients and all the courses are treated with respect, although I do have to shell out $80+ just to get a decent dessert. If I only had the patience to stand in line for chikalicious, but mostly, I resort to my own.

I have never met a pastry who was not an obsessive worrier, but than again all of the one I have met are REALLY good. You have some great tips.Thanks.

Will stretch my limits now! *THANK YOU!*

I am not a pastry chef (anymore) Should I worry about that? I would, except I have so many more things to worry about now. I loved this post!

What I've noticed is that once one worry has been solved, another pops up. I've contemplated worry, since it's my modus operandi: what it provokes in cooks and pastry makers is a lot of obsessing over details which produces really good results. In cooking it's all about the details.

I feel your pain about the constraints of pleasing people (=boring!) On the other hand, there is something beautiful about creating a simple dessert well. Really, really well. There's satisfaction in that. May each day have one less worry!

I don't have to worry

"Not all pastry chefs worry around the clock. There are a few cool, calm & collected ones. A few Clark Kents who are just as wonderful even before they do a quick-change in a diminutive telephone booth. A few who know exactly who they are, where they came from and make desserts from their heart, their heartland".

= one of my favorite part of this post. I love how you provoked thought, perception, and linked those chefs. The heartland? Just great:)

I believe every cook, every chef do worry about their work because of their desire to grow, passion, and love in what they do, not just care about public perception or fame. When I worked @ Chef Schlow's restaurant, I spotted a Japanese friend of mine/pastry girl walking in Beacon Hill on a day off thinking of what to put on the prix fix menu. She constantly worries, thinks outside the box, finds inspiration from others, wants to do better, and has so much passion in baking n cooking. Later, she was offered a pastry chef position after she worked/baked there only 8 months (her 1st restaurant experience)without former baking experience or school. Just a real hardworking genius. She turned it down, began to regularly stage (because she saw how I spent my day off staging to learn), and finally moved to the best restaurant in Boston to be a Pastry sous chef and continues to learn from others.

Thanks for another great post n sharing thought. I really think you should write a book sharing your experience.

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