My Sweet Dream of Sweets
I have always dreamt of becoming a chef, but on the sideline, being a patisserie is also one of my life’s goals. I became interested in baking when I was three or four years old, after seeing my aunt baked a simple cheesecake. When I tasted it, I thought it was the most delicious cake I’ve ever had. I became so interested in cakes and pastries. I looked at my aunt’s baking books and magazines and literally drool with the deliciously-looking pictures of cakes and bread topped with fresh fruits and white, frothy icing.
My interest and passion for baking continued way into my days at school. I tried baking simple recipes that I read from magazine articles. I had fun looking at some pictures, and tried to read about the procedures, but I couldn’t really understand the all since I was still young. When my aunt visited our home, I tried to help her as much as I can, asked questions, and observed her baking to learn more. Sometimes, she taught me how to do things in the kitchen. She told me some tips on making a simple honey cake. She also let me mix the cake batter, or put a rather disastrous icing layer on the cake. I was very happy when we were doing these together. I told myself that someday, I would be able to make a delicious cake my whole family will never forget.
During my high school years, I continued reading books about baking, but mostly focused on Mediterranean dishes because, at this time, my ambition of becoming a chef was already solidified. So I learned basic cooking from books, online articles, and personal blogs, and enjoyed applying the lessons at home. I tried making a plain blueberry cheesecake, applying the techniques I learned from resources and my aunt’s very own recipe. The taste wasn’t the same as my aunt’s, but I guess it was pretty close. I practiced and practiced until I got close to it, until finally, after a dozen or so tries, I made it. I was ecstatic! My aunt was very proud, and she suggested that I try making my own recipes, too. But, I guess it was too early for that, since I have a very poor memory when it comes to recipes, and I’m not quite a creative inventor in pastries, compared to cooking Mediterranean dishes and main course menu. Even when I follow every single rule in recipe magazines, books or articles, I was not satisfied with the results. They’re edible yes, and my friends even commended me for a job well done. Most of the time I was just wondering if they praised me only because they get to eat free food, which I bring to class for testing and getting comments. None of them have the same interests as I am, I mean in baking, so I cannot really get a constructive criticism of my work.
At this time, I suddenly stopped baking regularly and focused on learning my first passion, which is cooking Mediterranean cuisines. My favourite dish is medium-rare steak, which for me was very difficult to do. My family appreciates my passion for such craft, and even gave me the title of “their very own kitchen king”. With great power comes great responsibility, they say, so I was always tasked to do the kitchen work, especially during big events. Not that I’m complaining, because they knew my deep-seated passion for being the manager of the kitchen, and they totally support me. Besides, I get to say ‘time-out” every now and then, and my mother reacquires the kitchen throne.
I still go regularly to some baking shops, especially here in the US, to try new confections, and marvel at the aroma of these pastries. Nothing beats the smell of early morning, brewed coffee and freshly-baked cinnamon rolls, and sometimes if I’m really, really lucky, new baked products. I’m constantly blown away by the assorted pastries that the bakers are making. These scenes also help release my stress and pressure from school and everyday chaos of a regular city life.
However, I was not contented with seeing, and smelling, and buying, and eating. I prefer eating what my hands made, and sharing them to other people. While baking might be for some, or even for me, at least during my “stagnant time”, just a pastime that can make people creative and free of worries, I believe now, more strongly than ever, that I must learn and re-learn the art of baking, today.
Whenever I visit new bakeries or coffee shops, I try to make it a point to talk with the pastry chefs there, and listen to their stories – that is if they’re not busy, and they have the spare time to indulge in some small chit-chat. I enjoyed listening to their stories. They shared some wonderful tips about baking, and I cannot help but feel envious at the contentment in their voices and faces. At those times, I suddenly remember my first ever cheesecakes, the one I’ve first tasted and the one I’ve first made successfully, and think that the happiness I see in their faces must be the same thing I have when I bake and share my finished masterpiece to my family and friends.
One of the famous pastry chefs, Frederic Deshayes, said that “a pastry chef is a passionate person with good taste, imagination and creativity.” He further added that if you want something, see it, do it, understand it, and know how to do it in another way (Stamm 38). Troyano (2) also shared his ethos in baking: “Leave nothing to chance.” Every big thing comes from small packages, and these chefs didn’t get to where they are now in a fortnight.
I have been astray from too long from the path I’ve set to becoming a pastry chef. I believe that I’m doing quite well in the path towards becoming a Mediterranean cuisine connoisseur, but my other dream cannot simply wait. I know that there is always the right time for the right things, but I want to be greedy, because life is so short, and I absolutely want to grow old doing not a job, but a passion.
I have a long way to go. For now, to achieve my goals, I need to study harder, read a lot, and do all the required work for me to finish my schooling here in the US. There is 24 hours in a day, and I believe that if you have the passion for doing things, you can be successful in any plan you make for yourself. Practicing my cooking and baking can get along well with my studies; I just need to manage my time perfectly. Besides, there are short courses, probably a 5-day baking or cooking lessons, which I can enroll to. Thousands of sources can be found online, so I really don’t need to spend a lot in buying books, although doing so once in a while wouldn’t hurt as well. When I have my diploma, I’m going to enroll officially in a culinary school.
When I pass all of these challenges, and become a real chef, I’m going to use all my knowledge and build my own restaurant. I think, that will be the next big adventure of my life, and I can’t wait to reach it in the next few years.
Troyano, Luis. Bake it Great: Tips and Tricks to Transform Your Bakes from Everyday to
Extraordinary. London: Pavilion Book, 2015. Print.
Stamm, Mitch. The Pastry Chef’s Apprentice: An Insider’s Guide to Creating and Baking
Sweet Confections and Pastries, Taught by the Masters. Beverly Massachusetts: Quarry Books, 2011. Print.