Wow, it's been a month since my last entry. Eh, it's not like I have much to report. I've mostly been working at my externship site, Swiss Delices. I'm four weeks into the six-week "class" (we're receiving grades for the experience and we have to submit time sheets and journals as a way of keeping attendance) so I feel like I've just about gotten into the groove of how things operate at SD. I'm having a pretty good time for the most part. I basically spend my time assembling cakes and making cookies, the latter being one of those activities where I'm at my happiest, even when I'm making ten pound batches of cookie dough. As an aspiring pastry chef, what more could I ask for? But alas, there are shortcomings. When are there not shortcomings? Some of them are minor, like not having enough equipment, but then again, you're kind of spoiled when you come from culinary school, where there's one of everything for every student. Some of them, not so minor...
For starters, I was really excited at first to do the bread shift even though it begins at 4 AM because breads class was one of my favorites in school and I was eager to get more bread-making experience. Imagine my disappointment, then, when I found out that SD's bread baker, Yohan, doesn't speak much English. It's a bit hard to learn new skills and processes when you and your instructor have trouble communicating, especially for someone like me who learns best with clear and precise instruction. Because of this, I quickly asked for a shift change because it just didn't seem worth it to show up to work that early and not really learn anything.
A major shortcoming that SD is plagued by is the lack of communication between the employees. They all have their own projects that they are tasked with but they don't bother to inform one another of them, and so mix-ups and confusion spring up more often than they should. For instance, last Monday I was clearing the cooling rack of empty sheet pans when I noticed a shamrock-shaped cookie that I remembered having been there since Friday, if not before then. I asked Cosmo, the head cakes guy and the only other person working at the time, if I should at the very least wrap the cookie up so that it wouldn't get any more dry and stale than it already was. He told me to toss it, so I did. Later that day, Christine, SD's owner, came by and asked where the cookie had gone. When Cosmo told her what happened, she got upset and yelled, "Oh, come on!" It turns out that the cookie was baked by Yohan almost a week prior as a visual sample for a customer who was interested in ordering a batch for St. Patrick's Day. Yohan left it there on cooling rack uncovered for the longest time without bothering to put it away, and neither he nor Christine told anyone else about it, so how were Cosmo and I supposed to know? Christine started ranting about how butter cookies can last at least a week, which I feel was both unnecessary and uncalled for because the whole thing could have been avoided had the damn cookie been put away. And this wasn't the first time there have been issues like this in my short time at SD. There have been other products that were not put away properly, which caused them to get hard and dry, which then ends in Christine having to sell them at half price. Now I box stuff right away if I see it lying out because I just don't want to listen to another of these lectures.
These communication issues are what lead me to believe that if I were to be offered a paid position once my externship is done, I would have to think long and hard about accepting it because I'm not sure if I want to be in a work environment where people are only concerned with their own work and can't even take the time to inform their co-workers of what's going on.
Anyway, now that that is out of the way, let's get to the fun stuff, like the things I've made and done. (Unfortunately I don't have any visuals to share; I didn't really have time to stop my work and take pictures.)
- I now know how to use a dough sheeter, which is this conveyor belt-like machine that rolls out dough to your desired thickness. Granted, it took some practice for me to get the hang of it. There were a few times where I couldn't get the sheeter to stop running in time and so the dough fell to the ground, rendering it unusable.
- I've made tons and tons of batches of cookie dough, and decorated The King's Speech crown-shaped sugar cookies for an Oscar party.
- I totally stole the bakery's coconut macaroon recipe for my own personal use because oh my gosh, they are so buttery and tasty. I did the math and it comes out to one tablespoon of butter for each golf ball-sized macaroon!
- I nearly fell in headfirst into a barrel of cocoa powder while trying to scoop out what little remained at the bottom of the barrel.
- I've been tasked with decorating cupcakes for a funeral (uh... yeah, I don't know why, either) which resulted in my asking, "Are dark chocolate sprinkles too much for this somber occasion?"
- Oh, and I managed to cut myself with a tape measure. A TAPE MEASURE.
So there you have it, the life of a soon-to-be-graduating culinary student.
In a long overdue update on my dad's viewing habits, because I know how much you all appreciate that kind of thing: A few weeks ago he forwent the chick flicks and reminded us all that he is in fact a heterosexual male by buying a bunch of action movies filled with guns and explosions on Blu-ray. But then he was back to usual ways and was watching early 00's classics such as Sweet November
and Here on Earth
on Netflix on Demand. It's good to know that some things never change.