Friday, September 27, 2019

Pivot: I'm in Pastry Chef School

I've had many different jobs. I love to try new things. I love to learn. For many years, acting for stage and screen fulfilled my creative urges that weren't met by regular jobs, and/or acting was my regular job for several years. (Yes, I made money acting. The income was really good sometimes, not so good other times, overall inconsistent.)

Since I lost most of the hearing in my left ear, I don't get the same joy from acting that I once did. (I had a demeaning experience with a mumbly director this past year over my hearing impairment in one ear.) I'm also choosing to age somewhat gracefully, and not freeze my face into a rictus facsimile of youth. I'm out of the acting gigs, at least for a while.

My inner Manic Hobgoblin and my more rational inner voice teamed up last year to convince me that I need to find a new career path that incorporates my creative compulsions with a more steady stream of reliable income. After much thought, navel-gazing, planning and paperwork, I am back in school for an accredited, well-regarded pastry arts certificate at Austin Community College. I'm taking the prerequisite classes this semester:

Food Production and Planning - This is actually a math class for the professional kitchen that includes conversions from volume to weight measures, scaling recipes, figuring portion numbers, portion sizes and costing menu items. When I first started this class, the algebra made me hyperventilate with anxiety. Now I love this class. There is an elegance to the math. I see how incredibly useful this math will be.

Sanitation and Safety - With great power comes great responsibility. Serving food to people is a huge responsibility. I won't go into all the terrifying pathogens, parasites, toxins and contaminants that food can carry. It makes me both queasy and a bit scared to eat in any restaurant that receives a score below 90 on their health inspection. The information in this class is so vital, but it also kind of takes the joy out of food preparation.

Hospitality Human Resources Management - This class is all about the business end of things. It's an invaluable introduction to business, especially for people who haven't held many jobs in service industries, or who haven't had to interact with customers or employees much in their past experience. The professor for this class tries to keep us all engaged. He brings many years of professional experience in hospitality jobs to the teaching role.

So, I'm not baking pretty things in any of my classes yet. I'm working on the foundations to be able to safely bake pretty things in the correct proportions without causing interpersonal strife in the workplace. I'm spending about twelve hours a week doing homework with lots of reading, typing and use of a calculator.

Next semester, I hope to bake some pretty things. I will learn at least fourteen different ways to cook eggs and chop vegetables. I will take a chef nutrition class, which will likely involve more typing and calculating. My inner Manic Hobgoblin is itching to just frost cakes all day, but I'm trying to keep him soothed by watching pretty pastry videos on Instagram for the time being.