What began for me in May of 2009 as an exciting and downright scary culinary adventure is drawing to a close. This week, I completed my sojourn as a baking & pastry-arts student in a well-regarded culinary school, here in suburban Detroit. I never expected it would take me quite this long to complete the program but life happened, as they say, and priorities now and then had to shift. It's been a long and occasionally wild ride, and I don't regret one minute of it.
(This fondant-covered wedding cake was my last project, in my last class. I completed it, and brought it home, on Monday night. Biggest cake I've ever made! It weighed a ton.)
(This blown-sugar swan was a project in Pastry II. I wrote about it here.)
(This box, made entirely of chocolate, was filled with artisan chocolate candies.
From Pastry II class, this was one of my favorite projects. I wrote about it here.)
And, naturally, the support and encouragement of my husband and kids was a critical factor all along. If they hadn't been okay with me taking lots of time for the classes and homework, I wouldn't have been comfortable doing it (thanks so much, guys!). They are truly the greatest.
(Sam-the-Snowman cake was my final project in Theme Cakes class, in 2010.
I wrote about him here.)
I wrote about him here.)
So, was it all fun and games? Not on your life. Were there teachers there, a la Gordon Ramsay, who seemed to get their kicks by publicly berating people? Oh yeah, I can think of one or two in particular. Was I the oldest student there? Not by a long shot. In fact, one of the most interesting aspects of the program was the extreme diversity of the student population. Kids right out of high school, men in their twenties right out of the service, women in their fifties who'd left long and/or lucrative careers to follow their dream.
(Three fresh loaves from my Artisan Breads class. I wrote about that class here.)
(I made this sacher torte for my Cookery class in fall of '09; part of my
assignment was to write an essay on its historical origins. I blogged about the cake here.)
(This Elmo cake was one of our first projects in
Theme Cakes class, in 2010. I wrote about this cake, here.)
Being a student in this program exposed me to so many fresh experiences, and to new people. Case in point: I'd never in my life pried open a live oyster before I had to do this in Cookery class. I remember how my teacher, who happened to closely resemble the Swedish chef character from the Muppets, demonstrated our task, then chose me to try it first. He handed me the oyster knife and a special armor-like glove to wear on the hand that would hold the oyster. I took them from him, put on the glove, and then realized I needed to stop for a moment to take off my glasses in order to really see what I was doing. An outgoing student who'd just gotten out of the Navy--a tall, wiry guy who looked rougher and older than his years--commented loudly, "She's keepin' it real!" His name was Nick, and he was a character. Once he asked me if I had any kids and I told him I had two teenage sons, who were at the time 13 and 16. He looked at me in complete surprise, and said to me quietly, "No kidding? Well, bless your heart." I guess he expected anyone with two teenage sons would have to behave like a drill sergeant at all times, a description that rarely fits me. We never had another class together but the one time we ran into each other the next semester, I was in Retail Baking class at the time, stirring something on a stove, and he bellowed out to me from a distance, "Hey Jane! Still kickin' ass?!" Of course I responded, "Always!"
(I thought this alligator bread was about the cutest thing I'd ever seen when we made it,
along with turtle bread, in Retail Baking, winter of '10.)
I could go on and on with little tales like that from school, and I'm sure in future posts I will. But enough for now. I really just wanted to share the news with you that I am truly and finally done! Joy! And as a result, I hope to be more present, here in this blog, which is like an old friend to me, in the weeks ahead. Thanks to you readers for once more stopping by, and for sharing this journey with me.