There are always two sides to the coin and learning the art of patisserie at chef school is no different. On the upside, you get to make (and taste) delectable treats and then you get to delight those around you with your creations. On the downside, you get your hands and apron and shoes and cherry lips dirty on things like melted chocolate, crème patisserie and cream (‘oh NO, my jeans have shrunk!’).
Hmmm, not much to complain about really… until you realize you’re expected to perform beyond your heavenly field!
There are floors to be swept and mopped. Pots, pans and whisks to be scrubbed. Surfaces to be wiped down and sanitised… ovens to be cleaned. And then, when there’s a function on, you’re expected to arrive at the crack of dawn and go to sleep the following morning for days on end. You work as a team and help out where you’re needed (from baking thousands of biscuits at a time and having to babysit ten ovens at once to performing the ‘lowliest’ of jobs at the actual function… like running between a cramped kitchen and the chefs on the floor with heavy buckets of meat, chopped vegetables, sauces etc etc).
There is a point at which you can feel quite angered. I had to roll and fold 350 paper cones (to hold shrimps for a corporate event we were working on) one morning and I thought ‘what a waste of my time! I would rather employ somebody to sit here and do this while I do something more DESERVING of my talents… grrrrrrrrrrrr’. But then, the next day Chef Tim asked me if I knew how to make a chocolate piping bag.
‘Um, I THINK I have an idea…’ I answered, not quite sure if I could but guessing I’d be able to if I put my mind to it.
‘Of course you can,’ he answered. ‘The technique you used for the shrimp cones is the same one you use to make a piping bag!’
The rewards of chef school: you learn about sugar ‘n spice ‘n all things nice. But you also learn patience, how to extend yourself and eat that thing called humble pie.