When I was younger, I would find a recipe, and immediately go to the kitchen and begin one by one tossing ingredients into a bowl. I often did not get the results I bargained for. Until about 7th grade, I had been under the misconception that liquid and dry measuring cups were comparable, and when a recipe indicated 2-1/2, anywhere between 2 and 2 and 1/2 cups was acceptable. Now when I am going to make something I first take inventory, prep my mise en plas, and read through the recipe several times to ensure I have a thorough understanding. I close my eyes and in my mind, walk myself through precisely what I need to do and what the most efficient way of going about that would be. How can I use the least amount of tools? What can I do to prepare ahead of time? How long will it need to cool/cook, etc?
I learned early on that when you create something, when you work hard on something, it becomes a reflection or even a part of you. In my early stages I would become so upset if something I made did not come out as expected. When I began high school and working under my teacher, Mrs. D, the feeling I had in the kitchen was nervousness. It was unlike any way I had felt before, a new environment with high expectations. The girl cooking for her family and friends was now cooking for something larger, a school and local community. I would say it took about that whole freshman year to feel that I belonged, and when I felt it, I knew I would call that kitchen my home at school for the next four years of my life. A junior now, my confidence in the kitchen has grown from my mere freshman self, however I have learned (and am constantly reassured of) the value of being humble from Sharon. I have learned that you do not always get to make the executive decision, you give the people what they want. I have learned to keep an open mind when considering new concepts, and most importantly, that the best way to learn is from others.
Working in the kitchen there is always a deadline…how can I get all elements of my dish to be ready at the same time? It requires a lot of planning and prep to ensure you are using time to the best of your ability. I have learned that it requires management skills to be successful. When I began, it took all of my attention to focus on one element, and over the years I have increasingly added more and more. If something goes in the oven, I know that it is wise to begin moving on to something else instead of just watching time pass.
4. Never give up
I cannot tell you how many times I have completely screwed up recipes. I have added wrong amounts, over-beaten, forgotten ingredients, the list goes on. Sometimes it even happens multiple times in a row. Although it sounds petty to believe one can get frustrated over messing up cupcakes, the feeling that something you made, something you put love into, not working is incredibly aggravating. I try and I try over again until I get it right, and boy there is nothing more satisfying than pulling off something that has taken so long.
At the end of the day when I am covered in flour, my feet hurt from standing, and I am ready to sleep, I cannot help but feel fulfilled. There is just something about putting so much effort and love into something you can share with others that makes me happy. Seeing a physical object that you have created is one of the best feelings. You can not only simply see, but taste the fruit of your labor. Baking has connected me with great people, and lead me to amazing opportunities. Being in the atmosphere of a kitchen has taught me more than anything between the covers of a textbook could ever explain. I have worked with all types of people, I have learned hands-on through trial and error, I have learned what good food is, and I have learned to be a team player. I truly believe that there is nothing like the camaraderie of a kitchen, being surrounded by people dedicated to doing what you love. Baking has taught me all of these life lessons and more…and that my friends, is love.