You Bake Cakes All Day?

Yes, I bake cakes all day. I get to bake what I want, when I want. It's a lot like those Food Network shows, I'm all fresh and dewy, never sweaty or stressed. I never work so hard I can barely move the next day.

You think what I do is glamourous? Hahaha! Let me tell you some of the things that they don't tell you about what I do. When I see ads for culinary schools, and see culinary students, I want to stop them on the street and tell them that it's all bullshit. Whatever the admissions counselor told them ain't crap.

Nobody ever told me that my passion would be pushed aside by babysitting duties. Or that I'll have to teach the same people the same skills every day, and then, one day, before they've mastered the basics, or consistency (what's that?), they'll be asking for a raise because they've worked for you for x amount of months.

Or that my passion would be smothered by a pile of papers, emails, sticky-notes of reminders and recipe notes, and adjustments, ideas, thoughts, quick questions scribbled on scraps of paper only to be forgotten 45 minutes later.

They never tell you that you're dried up and too tired to create the new menu ideas that A. needs for her internal events and that they're all more special than the other clients.

Or new items for the Cafe.

That you'll come in one day and find that the same person didn't bake the blondies correctly. That an entire sheet pan will be lost because the bottoms are all raw. This is Baking 101, are you kidding me?

Nor are you told about last-minute changes, or guest increases until 24-2 hours before the event, so you feel like you're making the same mise en place all day long, because a few more people just decided to show up at the last minute. Or choose or change their menu at the last minute. And we need to make them happy so that they book their gala with us . . .

What? Nobody ordered that stuff you've been asking for for a week now? We're out of flour? Butter? Sugar?

The plates that you spoke about at that meeting last week-the one you have every week with catering managers, FOH, BOH, operations, so everybody is on the same page-those dishes never got ordered, so your staff has to wait around until they come in. Time and labor lost.

Party is running late, so you have to stay. You'll have to try to leave early tomorrow so you don't go past your 40 hours.

You go in on your day off to correct something that wasn't made right the first time. And try to figure out how to leave early, because there. Is. No. Overtime.

You have to cut your labor. Staff complains that they're not getting hours. Then you schedule them, but they can't work those hours. Suck it up. Either you work, or you don't.

You're constantly interrupted to take care of things for your staff, because they are your customers and you need to make sure their needs are met. You spend precious time goose-chasing, as someone tells you it's not their job, go see so-and-so. But I'm never allowed to say that it's not my job.

And that par stock information that you typed up voluntarily to help train the people who did the ordering before we hired the new purchasing manager? Can you please re-create that in Excel? By March? Thanks!

The constant meetings. Where you're told that more is expected of you.

Ah, yes, the General Manager comes by and tells you at the last minute that he needs 3 dozen cupcakes for his son's birthday. Add that to the list.

And yet another day goes by that I didn't get to test a recipe for an event. My to-do list is just re-written with more stuff added.

I'm tired. I don't sleep at night, and when I do, it's often work-mares. The latest one? None of my cooks showed up and there is a party for tonight we didn't have the information for and it's for 200 people and I have to make everything and nothing is working out. Cakes aren't baking, mousses aren't setting.

My dreams of being a pastry chef slip through my fingers like sand most days lately. Then, I'll get a so good magazine or look at my pastry books and am reminded of what I love about this industry. I marvel at others' talent and think about how far I need to go. I'll gain inspiration through these pastry masters, grab my iPad to record my ideas, and sketch my desserts and I feel hope in those quiet, fleeting moments. Or I'll have a great meal and am moved by what the cooks express through careful skill. Then I catch my 3 hours of sleep before heading into the trenches.

This is reality.


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