Thursday, January 27, 2011

2 cakes from the past.............

This is the wedding cake I did for my cousin Ryan and his new bride Val.
The color blue was in her dress.

                                                     Eeyore for a friend's girlfriend.

These are just two of many cakes I have done. I will start taking more pictures now that I have an awesome computer to actually save my pictures.

When life hands you lemons...make Lemon Chiffon Cake!

Listening to Frank Sinatra as I write today..I heart Frank!
I woke up today with the biggest urge for French Toast. Luckily I had all supplies in house so why not? The boyfriend wasnt complaining So I got to work. A cold day called for French Toast, homefries and a huge mug of English Breakfast tea. I was munching on my fries when I realized how much I love being in a kitchen when I don't have to be.
My full time job of 3 years let me go New Years Day. I was an Assistant Manager at a local restaurants bakery. That where I met my bestie Juggling Act. I started off as a packer and the cake decorator and worked my way up.
When I was told that they wouldnt be asking me to return at the end of our yearly layoff period, I was upset and angry. As any normal human being would be. Initial panic cause of the way the economy is.
But then I realized that it wasnt personal, no matter how much it felt like it. It was business. I cost them too much. Plain and simple. So I went home, cried about it for about an hour. Called the bestie. And then realized that Im going to be just fine. I still had my part time job at a kitchen supply store. And with my experience, I could find any job I wanted. Both bosses told me I would have letters of recommendation from them and great referances as well. I wasnt going to panic.
Now I have the time to rekindle my passion for baking. I can do it for fun and with love. Ill be honest. Working at a restaurant where you make the same thing everyday is too boring for me. I understand the consistency aspect and food cost and all of that. Still was getting boring for me. I would zone out during half my day, or listen to an audio book in my work room. And still be able to have a great and consistent product.
I think since I am off for the next 3 days and there is about a ton of snow outside, Im going to research cake ideas, cupcake ideas and candy ideas as well. I am 28 years old and although I have had amazing opportunities in my life I need new ones. I love to bake and decorate. To be able to manipulate a cake into a shape and decorate it is what I love to do most of all.
Now its time to challenge myself. Time to do great and amazing things. And I started with French Toast...

Sweet kisses...
Monkey cake for besties lil year old already! Where did the year go?


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Julie and Julia

So I am starting a blog. Something my best friend is doing as well. Actually she has had one for awhile. To be honest I never saw myself having one. And I'm not jumping on a bandwagon. I'm doing it because I love to write and thought this would be a good outlet for me.
So I begin......
You're probably thinking what does my title of Julie and Julia have to do with anything?
Ill tell you, it's an amazing movie. And a book as well. The movie reminds me of the passion that I have as a Pastry Chef. The movie "Chocolat" does as well. Not to mention Johnny Depp (yum). The movie Julie and Julia though follows a lot of facts about Julia Child. And a girl named Julie. Julie is like you and me. A career woman. A girl trying to make her marriage work through all the ups and downs. And someone with a passion for cooking. Julie decides to take Julia's book and choose one recipe a day and make it. I'm not gonna say anymore because if you haven't seen it I don't want to spoil it. I recommend it.
In a way I'm Julie.However, I went to school to become a Pastry Chef. I found out this week however that the college I went to, Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, is going to be closing soon. This upset me greatly because of the Chef's that I had. They were amazing individuals. They knew their craft well and were diligent in the teaching of it. Chef M teaching us how to make sure our kitchen is in tiptop shape during production. (This amazing woman also served our country in Iraq.) To Chef T. a little Italian man who taught us plate presentation. To Chef K the only man I have ever seen temper chocolate and not manage to get one little spec on his pristine white uniform. (I've got to learn how to do that. I always look like I took a bath in it.) Chef P teaching us to work as a team. And then Chef W. our Dean of Studies. He competed on Food Network Challenge. That was awesome to watch him on TV. To all the teachers I had for classes. These people were amazing. I loved learning from them. Their experiences of their lives being told to us as lessons of what to do and what not to do. They are my Julia Child. They may not have been famous as Julia but the things they taught me come back at sometimes the strangest times. I amaze myself sometimes at what I remember.
I also met some of my closest friends there. We used to joke about the Art Institute kids. Said if we had a fight who would we think won? A paintbrush or a knife. We won. Goofy stuff. I think a bunch of us are gonna road trip out there to say our goodbyes. I hope that the Chefs I had that are still there are able to find somewhere amazing to use their skills.
Baking is part of my life. Has been for 12 years already, and since I'm only 28 that's a long time. Lol. I feel like a lil ole lady when I say that. I started when I turned 16. I started as a cashier at a buffet restaurant. Then I moved into prep and hot side then bakery. It was love at first cake. I loved the smell after you opened the oven and rolls came out. I loved mixing the dough. I loved making the sticky buns. I loved it all. I left that place because of a manger. I don't believe in yelling at employees in front of guests. No matter who it is or what position you had. I wasn't the one being yelled at but I left soon after I witnessed the whole incident. By this time I graduated high school. I didn't know what I wanted to do. So I kept working. I figured I rather work then blow money at a college when I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I worked stock in a grocery store as my next job. I learned the ordering process, the rotation, a most importantly speed. I worked on an all guy crew. I had to prove myself everyday. That I could out throw and that I was strong enough and fast enough to play on the same team. I'm glad I had that job. Those guys made me work and every job I have had since then was a piece of cake.
Then came the opportunity of my life. The first one. A coworker and her daughter had become friends with me. Courtney has said about going to culinary school and said I should go as well since I was always bringing brownies and cookies and stuff in for the guys. No. I wasn't trying to bribe them. But these were guys who threw freight and got hungry real quick. Hungry working guys didn't fare to well for me. So I calmed them down with peanut butter cookies and Oreo bars and whatever else I fancied making. Worked like a charm. My coworker said she was leaving for PA Culinary in a month or so and that I should apply an see if I get in. I went home and talked to Mom and Dad. It was a green light from them. So within a week I had gone from stock girl to future culinary school student. Had the acceptance letter and all.  A month later I was all packed up and ready to go. I remember my first kitchen with Chef H. His bad joke of taking the dill dough.  I was fortunate in a lot of ways. I was older then pretty much everyone in my class. I was 20. They were mostly 17-18. Fresh out of high school. Most of them had no idea what they were getting into. I already had 2 years of restaurant experience under my belt. I knew 99.9% of the equipment in the kitchen. A few odds and ends I didn't. I fell more in love with baking. First cycle was bread. Second was breakfast pastry and French pastry. Third was cakes and pie. Fourth chocolates and candies. Fifth was plate presentation. Sixth was advanced. that was sugar sculptures and chocolate work and finally a 3 tiered wedding cake. I am proud to say I earned a 98% on that one. I wish I had a picture to show you. then came the externship. I applied to and was accepted to Walt Disney World Resort. I was offered a 6 month externship instead of 4 months. I left for Orlando July 2,2004. I spent 6 months working for the Mouse. And I loved every second of it. I was selected by my Executive Chef to work at EPCOT for the annual Food and Wine Festival. I was the only Pastry with 5 Culinary chefs making up the rest of the team. It was our job for 6 weeks to ensure that whatever Chefs were coming in for the weekend had everything they needed. We had lists in advance from either them or their Sous Chefs. And those lists had to be prepped by the time they arrived on Thursday night. We then assisted them on their setup, preparation and serving of 1000 people every Saturday night. Those were some of the best memories I have. I have been fortunate in meeting Alan Wong, Mario Batali, Keegan Gerhard, Cat Cora....and others. So many chefs in 6 weeks. Watching them in their element was astonishing. I will never forget those 6 months especially those 6 weeks.
I came back to Pa for one reason. My parents live here. Im an only child that misses Mom and Dad way too much if Im gone for too long. The food in this region is sadly a lot of the same. So my best friend and I decided we are going to try and start our own little business. cakes and cupcakes. No Ace of Cake, Cake Boss stuff. just the simple home baking professional blend that I love.
Julie and Julia...a movie about a two regular women. One inspiring the other. My chefs inspired me. I hope that with the college closing they will be just fine. They were the inspiration for my life. They were my Julia and I wish them well.  Because I love baking....and this is only the start of my journey......

Sugar Kisses,