Thursday, May 27, 2010


It's the end of May.  We're having a heat wave and I'm sick.  It's also my birthday on Sunday.

I need a doctor's note to say that I am well enough to go back to work.  The doc wouldn't give me one so now I'm stuck at home, bored out of my mind while my team picks up the slack at work for my sick ass.  Not cool. NOT COOL.  So I've painted my nails a Barbie pink seeing as I won't be working anytime soon.  Not working sucks now as I am an hourly paid employee and there are no such things as sick days or sick pay.

On the plus side....hmmm......

Anyhow, it's my birthday and I hope to be fully healthy by Saturday and everyday after that.  I'm turning 32.  It's a good age, huh?  I'm gonna have a party and make me a lemon birthday cake.  Mmmmm....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Updates for now...

I finally have a moment to write a proper update to my blog.  It's been a while.

The last few months have been busy.  I have learned a lot not only about being in the kitchen but also about myself.  There are many challenges and obstacles that I am continuing to deal with and it's a struggle sometimes but it is also a blessing.  I have so much more to learn.

I think my last few entries have exhibited some of my frustrations thus far.  I will try to keep this entry as positive as I can as I feel positive about the way things will be in the future.  If it does not kill me, it'll only make me stronger and I'm not dead, therefore I think that means I am stronger.


I have basically been bumped off the pastry roster and am only being called in to work pastry when they are stuck.  At first it was like a huge slap in the face since I felt tons of loyalty to this team and all of a sudden there was no loyalty reciprocated.  Such is life, I tell you.  It sucked but I am now over it.  Aside from budget cuts and not being busy, my hours dwindled as the new pastry chef took on another pastry cook with slightly more experience than I.  I had felt strong frustrations with myself and harbored feelings of not being good enough for a while.  Today, I feel fine.  I am learning and improving.  I kind of feel that if my superior is not willing to teach me or give me the opportunity to learn, then perhaps I am in the wrong space.  I would like to be in an environment where my superior is also supportive of my professional growth.  I'm sure it'll be hard to find, but I am also sure that it exists.  It did before.  I know that it is not a question of me not being a good worker as the Banquet Chef and Cafe Chef have put me on their schedules on a pretty steady basis.

So, for the last few weeks I have mostly been working as a prep cook at the AGO.  I would prefer to be doing pastries however, I am taking the shifts as it still proves to be a valuable experience in the kitchen.  Plus, the money ain't so bad either.


My time here has been a roller coaster ride.  I like roller coasters though.  I have, in the last little bit, learned a lot being in this kitchen.  Yes it's a circus and yes it's a shit show sometimes but it's a constant push for me.  For the most part I love the peeps I work with.  Aside from all the lovin' and huggin' I get, I see these people all the time and they are my new found friends.  We are part of the same army.  I love them.  I love food.  We feed each other :)

A new pastry team has formed.  There are two pastry ladies with more experience than me that have just started in the last month or two.  I think we form a good team.  I like that I am working with pastry cooks who have more experience than I.  Whereas before, I had dishwashers and inexperienced cooks on my team.  (I want to mention, that I was still grateful for all their help.)  Together we form a super pastry alliance.  The challenge here is that there are strong personalities at bay.  Mine included, however I do not stroke my ego much.  Maybe I should.  Having the least experience can be good in a way as you get to learn from people who know how to do things and that will teach you.  It can be a challenge in some ways too as it is hard to work at the same pace, sometimes.  With this I struggle but with this struggle I will learn and excel.  I'm trying to look at things from a different perspective and to be open and receptive to criticism.  I will say that although some may have more experience and more years under their belt, they are not always right.  That's it, that's all.

My favorite chef left last month.  I miss my Chef Billy, by far my favorite part of the day.  I also miss Dan, my Asian invasion partner in crime, and I will miss Guillermo my Mexican teddy bear.  GMo, as he is referred to, is moving back to Mexico :( 


I've been on the hunt to do more stages at different places.  I did one at Pangaea and I have another one coming up at Scaramouche.  I'm really into networking and meeting other pastry people.

I have also participated in a show piece for the "Kings of Pastry" documentary launch party.  See my previous blog for further details.

....anyhow, this is my update.  I still love what I do.  I really do :)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Kings of Pastry

I participated in a showpiece for the launch party of a Hot Doc Documentary called Kings of Pastry.  Chef Christophe Measson along with Chef Christian, students and former students of GB (including myself) worked on a 'Paris' scene made out of sugar, gingerbread, marzipan and royal icing.

I made a cheese boutique, complete with some wine, preserves, grapes, lavender, and even a mouse!

Here are more photos:

Le Tour Eiffel and L'Arc de Triomphe made out of sugar


MY Fromagerie, Le Fruiterie de Muriel, Cafe, Chanel Boutique, Gallerie, Jimmy Choo Boutique, Boutique de Marriage, Fleuriste and Boulangerie.

At the event we were making marzipan flowers and pulling sugar for demos.  Here are some pics before and during the event.

Me and Ma Fromagerie 

Here are some close ups of my work.  It was all very tiny.  To get an idea of the size, look at the picture above with me behind it.  All the detailing was made purely out of coloured marzipan and the only places I used food colouring to paint was on the signs and the centres of the daisies.  The structure was made of gingerbread and the window panes were made from a gelatin leaf. 

Can you recognize some of the cheese?  Some I just made up, others mimic my favorite cheese and some are cheese that we use in the workplace.  I really love my Brie that's cut open and melting :)

This took over 20 hours, but I loved every minute of it!  Hope you enjoyed the photos.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Always Cook Happy

Bye Chef Billy!

 Good luck on your new job.  You will be missed. 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Feelings of Pride

What a nice surprise!

After a rough month filled with challenges and a lot of growth, I feel more at ease and ready to move forward again.

Two days ago I had my review with Chef B.  A positive evaluation doesn't mean more money, by the way.  Anyhow, things were really positive and it was nice to get some constructive feedback from him.  It's something I always look for as I hope to continuously improve.

This afternoon I was rewarded as the Employee of the Month of February :) Yeah!!!  They presented me with my very own chef's whites with my name on it (see below).  I was very happy and felt quite appreciated.  It was something I didn't expect especially since I had experienced feelings of failure last month.  Thanks Chefs at the Distillery!

I am not a failure.  I'mma be a great damn pastry chef one day!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Feelings of Failure

Today was a difficult one for me, to say the least.  Coming out of the Winterlicious craziness and into the new Valentine's menu seemed to be little too much for me to handle.  I wish it wasn't.

I walked into the kitchen this morning ready for a full day.  I knew it was going to be tough but I didn't anticipate how tough it would really be nor how I would react to the challenge.  I looked around and oh shit.  I was screwed.  On a regular Sunday we are only open for brunch service.  Today, due to the Valentine's Day holiday we were also open for dinner service.  I was scheduled alone.  I looked at the desserts left over from last evening and there was barely anything left for the exception of the million and one parfaits that we made.  Granted, brunch pastries were ordered however, they still needed to be plated and beautified. (ok, I needed to beautify them because that's the way I roll.)  I needed to make a million goats milk cheesecakes with a lack of goats milk cheese and cream cheese.  I felt a slight panic then I told myself, "Don't worry Sam, shit happens.  If you don't finish, then you don't finish.  Who cares?  Nobody."  Not my normal train of thought but it was what it was.  I was overly overwhelmed.

Who cares?  The kitchen was uncomfortably busy that day.  It seemed like almost every cook on payroll was scheduled to cover brunch and then dinner.  Ever cook for the exception of my pastry side kick.  There was of course, a need to keep labour costs low.  While reducing strawberry jus I burned my arm on a scorching hot pan handle.  Oweeee.  Oh well.  Another one to add to my collection.  With no room to move I attempted to carry on with my day.

Really, who cares?  "How's it going Sam?"  "Uhhh...ummmm...I'm screwed Chef B.  I'm fucked for service this evening."  "Where's your mis en place list?" "Didn't make one today."  "What?"  "I'm sorry chef, I normally do but...."  (Seriously, I always make a list and it is almost always done the night before. Last night was a 12 hour day so I didn't.  When I walked into this morning's fiasco and my who cares attidude, I didn't do it.  Bad choice.)  Chef B had a disappointed look on his face, the look ate away at my 'who cares' thoughts.  I hate to disappoint Chef B.  I hate to disappoint myself because really? Who cares? I do.  I always care.  Damn it! I wish I didn't always care but I always do.  So there I went, scrambling like a banshee trying to do what needed to be done.  I love some of the guys I work with.  When push comes to shove, they help to dig you out of your grave.  I received help, lots of it. Thanks boys! 

My head was spinning.  By this time I had made the cheese cake batter shoved it in the oven and was working on garnishes.  Dinner service had started.  I was still sinking.  The cheese cakes had to cook, then set, then be unmolded, then plated.  Panic once again set in.  "Are they going to be done Sam?"  "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"  "So, realistically, how much time do you need?"  "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"  "I need to tell Chef B."  (Oh fuck.)  "What did Chef B say?"  "He's not happy, he's pissed." "Uhh...ummm...ummm?"

I pulled out my cheese cakes from the oven.  (I felt like I should have left them in there and ran away.)  They were slightly overcooked.  Well, overcooked enough that I was ashamed and felt like someone punched me in the gut. What happened? What did I do wrong? In my hustle and bustle banshee-like frenzy I forgot to cover them.  On the plus side, they would set a lot quicker and they were still edible.  There are moments in life when I hate myself.  This was one of them.  I hate failure.  I hate it.  It eats away at me.  Slowly and painfully.  As the cheese cakes were setting I helped plate the existing dessert orders.  They were beautiful.  this made me feel a little better.  I checked on my ugly cheese cakes and they were setting.  I started to unmold some of them.  They looked alright.  They were tasty but I didn't like the texture.  They would have to do. 

I walked up to Chef B.  "Uhmm hi Chef B.  I think we'll be ok for desserts tonight."  "I knew we would be Sam."  "Really chef?"  "Yup!"  "The cheese cakes are set but they are slightly overcooked."  "I'm sure they're fine."

Sigh.  Fourteen hours had passed since I walked into the kitchen this morning.  I was feeling faint.  My diet of the day consisted of two poached eggs and a spoonful of fried potatos about ten hours earlier.  I was starving.  As I continued to help plate desserts, the guys on the line made me dinner.  I love them.  It was delicious.  I felt slightly better.  Food has that effect on me.

I guess I could have left earlier but I didn't feel right leaving if I was leaving them to deal with unset cheese cakes.  I had to be sure that they were not going to be screwed due to my mistakes.  In the end, it was alight.  Not wonderful, but alright.

So, who cares? I do.

Morals of today's blog:
  • Make your mis en place list, even if you are pretending not to care
  • Don't pretend to not care if you really do
  • When in panic mode, remain human and fight away any banshee-like behaviour
  • Cover your damn cheese cakes
  • Eat, it makes things better even when it's not
  • I should stop being so hard on myself
  • Failure sucks but it happens to the best of us

Sunday, January 31, 2010

How bad. Do you want it?

I was thinking.  Ya ya, it happens sometimes, I think.

The last few weeks I have been feeling a lot of pressure and anxiety over what to do next.  My job at the AGO is great when busy but at this moment it has been quiet and my hours have been cut and a girl needs to make a living.  My job in the Distillery is a circus.  It's a lot of fun.  Busy right now for Winterlicious.  It's crazy.  I work with animals.  I love some animals and others I am simply allergic to.  It's fun in it's own way but essentially, they are throwing me in the ring and I am just not a seasoned performer.  Not yet.  But I can make the crowd laugh, it's the inner clown in me.

I have been keeping my eyes open.  Letting the people I know in the industry know that I am looking.  I have had some leads to possible job openings that look quite exciting to me.  I don't just want to be good.  I want to be great!  The problem is, there are sacrifices to be made.  Should I wish to learn how to make the bestest breads ever I need to start work at 4 am, some places 1 am.  Are you joking?  Apparently not.  How bad do I want it you ask?  How bad does anyone want anything?


What a fucking question that is?  I want it bad, real bad baby!  But bad enough to sacrifice sleep, a social life, health, a future family, sanity, natural light? What? How fucking bad do I want it?  Oh shut up!

I feel guilty.  I feel guilty that I can't honestly say that I want it so bad that I would sacrifice my first born so that I can have it.  I'll tell you something.  I have never in my life been so happy in a discipline as I am now.  Previous aspirations were to be an astronaut, biologist, leisurologist, to work in HR.  I have done my time in retail, HR and in office administration.  All things that I thought I wanted.  All jobs that I am glad I did but didn't have a passion for in the end.  I know I say this all the time but I do love what I do now, in this career move that somehow fell from the sky into my lap.  I never wanted to work in the food and beverage industry.  It was never a dream of mine.  However, I can truly say now that I cannot picture doing anything else in my life.

Speaking with one of my biggest fans last night I was reminded that if I were to do it, now is the time.  Now when I don't have that first born to sacrifice.  Sleep, natural light, friends...they will all be there in the end.  Sanity...there's always someone crazier than you.  A future family. That's just it, it's the future.  And a social life...well.  Let's not talk about that.

I'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 4, 2010


There is always a lot of pressure to start the new year off on the right foot, have goals and resolutions, lose weight, be nicer, etc. I still need a moment to reflect on things and figure shit out. I can speak about my general thoughts for this year but it will be the generic goals and wishes of most people: becoming more focussed, communicating more effectively, saving money, not selling myself short, losing weight. I think those are my themes every year.

Anyhow, 2010 will be a great year.  I know it.  A great year but not without huge challenges and sacrifice.  Am I ready for it?

Bring it!

Happy 2010. Happy Happy Happy

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cheque Please

I'm done with 2009! Cheque puh-leez....although, I think I have already paid for this year, the bags under my eyes can attest to that. I'm done.

What a year it has been. I am thankful for it as 2009 was a challenging but great year for me but it wasn't a fab year for a lot of those close to me. I am happy it is over. I am feeling slight anxiety for the new year to come as I am sure it will be even more challenging and I haven't yet set out any concrete goals for myself. 2009 was clear to off debt, leave the corporate world, fully immerse myself in the industry, clear skin, be happy, some travel, move out. So much happened this year....I need to top it. Every year should get better, right? Hmmm....anxiety.

I have some ideas of the things I would like to happen and the things I would like to do. A lot of it mainly career driven and somewhat selfish but hey, it's about putting yourself first right? Being happy so that you can project happiness to others. I have a lot of thinking to do between now and midnight so I will bid you Adieu and check in with you in 2010.

Thanks for a good one....Cheers.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

petit four days off

I have four days off. So far I painted my nails, slept in, baked a little, did laundry and played with a puppy and my friends. Awww...the simple things in life are so nice sometimes. Two more days and then back to my reality.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bitter Sweet

Today is the last day of my Chef. He resigned as Executive Pastry Chef to become a full time teacher at the college. He is and will continue to be a wonderful and inspiring chef. He will succeed as a teacher because other than being talented in the kitchen, he is also charismatic, charming and someone who genuinely cares about his students and the future of the pastry industry. I wish him the best of luck and will miss him dearly.

Dear Chef,

I am so very proud of you. What a difficult decision to make but I am confident that you made the right choice for yourself at this moment in your life. How lucky the college is to have a teacher and chef like you. Your students will benefit immensely from your skills and knowledge. You are a huge reason why I am doing what I love today. Thank you.

As a student of yours two and a half years ago I was inspired to take a passion to the next level. You didn’t have to, but you invited me to your workplace to see at what a professional kitchen looked like. I am greatful for that and the many conversations that we have had about the culinary industry, restaurants, food and pastries. Your mentoring and countless answers to all my questions helped me take a leap of faith. I owe that to you as well as giving me the opportunity to prove myself in your kitchen. I hope I make you proud.

Working under you has helped me to respect ingredients, simplicity and traditional methods while embracing new trends and techniques. I am happy that you have showed me a level of standard and consistency this early on in my career. These are things which I will take with me wherever I go and continuously work on to perfect.

I will miss your sudden outbursts into song (usually with your own lyrics), the pokes in the ribs and your macarons (I would still like a private lesson, thank you). I will also miss your frantic manner when you see inconsistencies or flaws in our department. As I rolled my eyes many times (sorry Chef), I also had a huge amount of respect for your need for us to continuously improve. We are a tight knit group because of you, a Pastry Family. I don’t think many exist in the industry.

I value our friendship and our professional relationship. I know we will be in touch and I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again. Maybe one day, many years down the road I can return the favour and you can work for me? LOL! :)

With that being said, je vous souhait le meilleur au monde, je vous aime beaucoup et je suis tres fiere de vous.

Vous me manquez déjà.

xoxo Sam

Friday, December 11, 2009


The last few weeks have been...well...hectic, crazy, fun, exhilarating, exhausting, exciting and...draining.

I've been working like mad. The holidays are a busy time, even more so if you work in the food industry. It's amazing how many parties and events I've been apart of yet have not attended. Work has seemed to monopolize all of my time and energy. I moved this week, apparently. I still have tons of things at my old place that are not even packed. I have no idea when I will be able to pack my shit. Oh man, not complaining....ok, maybe a little but this is the life that I have chosen and I DO love what I do.

Sixty plus hours a week and only one day off in over a month and a half is what's been going on. I think I've reached the point where I am not as productive. I find myself sometimes unfocused and slow. I do need to rest but how do I tell my employers that I cannot be there at their busiest time ever, when they really need me and I used to beg for hours during slow times? How? And come January, when it's slow I'll be scraping for nickels and dimes. - You just don't! Ten more days until a day off.

I've burnt out. That's done, but this is what keeps me going:
  • I love what I do
  • I adore a lot of the people I work with
  • the vibe in the kitchen
  • the madness and chaos that patrons do not see
  • hugs and kisses
  • the sense of pride when I create something delicious and beautiful
  • pride
  • being a part of a team that is going through the same intensity
  • the hope that I will learn something new
  • the hope that my effort and dedication will lead me to a better place
  • butter, sugar and chocolate - come on now!
  • useless yet amusing banter of cooks and chefs
I don't need to keep reminding myself of why I do what I do, I feel it in my heart every day that I wake up. No pain no gain, right? Well I definitely feel the pain.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

taking it off

I'm taking it off. One day next week.

I need a day off. It can't come quick enough. I'm tired but please, don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I am loving waking up everyday and having to go to work. What a feeling. Even though some days at work are good, some are bad, some are challenging, all are rewarding to me.

I need a day off. Not really cuz I want one, but because I know I need one. I'm getting cranky a little bit...sorry to those who I've been cranky towards. You probably deserved it anyway but I would have normally bit my tongue.

I need a day off. Just one. If I have more than one I would probably go crazy and die of boredom. And I would suffer from baking withdrawal.

The last couple of weeks have been insane. So lovely! The old job is great as always, getting busier and busier. The new job is busy busy busy. If only I had more days in the week I would work full time at both places and enjoy one day off.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A year ago...Today...What's next?

I woke up today with a sense of excitement. I love my life.

So much can happen in a blink of an eye, let alone a year.

Last year was my first day as a Pastry Cook. November 14, 2008. I started my new part time job that evening, after a full day at my office job. I was ecstatic. I remember not actually doing much that night. I think I made a batch of bran muffins and replenished the stock in the cafe. It wasn't much but it was a start. I was happy.

Today marks a year of me as a Pastry Cook. What's different today is that pastry is not a part time gig anymore. It is my career. Aside from working part time at the AGO, I am also working part time (with full time hours, might I add) at the Distillery District. It has been so for the past three weeks. I am having fun.

Today is also important because it is my last day of the last class that I need to get my Baking Certificate. I am officially done! Woo Hooo!! I am so proud of myself.

I couldn't have spent today in a more fitting manner. I went in to work at my new job for a couple of hours since they were in a bind. I then took off for school and completed my last day. I then returned to work to help prep for that evening and the next day's brunch service. There was a lot of work to do. Yes I was tired but it is amazing what you will cope with when you love something and when you enjoy what you are doing.

I am exhausted right now but I feel this overwhelming sense of accomplishment today. I can't sleep, I am wired and emotional. I wonder what I will be writing about on November 14, 2010??

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Down and Up-dates

It's November, I know. I haven't written in a very long time. Things have happened. Here's my update:

  • Quit my office job
  • Had high hopes for a very busy fall in the kitchen, as was suggested by my chef, but it wasn't as busy as everyone anticipated
  • Was working part time...meaning 1-2 shifts a week, sometimes 3
  • Cleaned my room, de-cluttered
  • Packed my cook books, getting ready to move
  • Had way too much time on my hands but it was ok since I needed a bit of a break, plus, my bff is back in town so we spent some good QT and catch-up (meaning video games, food and drinks)
  • Tried to save money and not spend too much
  • Started my last two classes for my Baking Certificate: Breakfast Breads and Cakes: Classical to Modern
  • Bored...getting lazy
  • Looked for another job
  • Did a stage in the Distillery District

  • Volunteered at a couple of cool industry events
  • Worked a few days here and there
  • Getting more bored...lazier
  • Took a trip out to Chicago to visit my bffjmyobfb
  • Started to work 6:30 am shifts for a week and a half
  • Parties! Parties! Parties!
  • Started working at the Distillery District

November 1st to today

  • Splitting my time between both jobs and school
  • Learning a shit load of things
  • Loving both jobs and school
  • Circadian rhythm is all screwed up, tired
  • Bags under my eyes, feet hurt
  • Face hurts from smiling too much
  • ....but happy and excited for all things to come!

Saturday, September 12, 2009


What the f*ck? Can someone please explain to me why our pot holders/oven mitts have sl*ts and ho*es in them? I'm sure it's not to hang them as the sl*ts are big enough that you can stick your whole arm through them. Seriously? Why?

Ok, I know they are there and I am usually pretty careful about positioning the ho*es so my hands are not exposed, but come on! When you are trying to flip 10 trays of cookies quickly so that they don't's bound to move. You're most likely not going to notice until you feel the sizzle in your brain that tells you it's too late "you are holding on to a hot tray with your bare thumb." It happens. It happened. Looking down I saw my fingers all neatly and safely tucked under the oven mitt as my thumb peeped through the ho*e, gripping on to the tray. Mother f*cker....that hurt.

I tried not to scream but man that hurt. In the kitchen world, these things are child's play. It's like what paper cuts are to an office worker, but trust me, the pain is much more severe.

Anyhow, as I flipped the last tray of cookies around, thinking of how I was going to run into the freezer and hold onto a pork chop to ease the pain, my forearm was seared by the oven rack. How nice. Can't blame that one on any sl*ts or ho*es.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Doing IT

"Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable" --S.H

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Guilty Pleasure: Porn

FOOD PORN, that is.

I know I'm not alone here, and at least it doesn't harm anyone. I can take my materials in public without people thinking I'm a pervert as my eyes widen and my mouth salivates while flipping through my beautifully illustrated books on pastries and desserts. Every so often I will let out a sigh or giggle with excitement as I see a coloured picture of a gooey, warm, gorgeous tart. Y'all know what I'm saying?

On my bookshelf you will find countless cook books, magazines, dvds, and books on chefs, cooks and kitchens. Look under my bed and you will find a stash of Bon Appetite, Food & Wine, and articles on food.

I don't read romance novels however I am totally engrossed by non-fictional books on the lives of chefs, how kitchens are run and the history of food. Most of those books are so well written that each scene is illustrated only through words, no pictures, however I can vividly see what's going on and in some cases almost smell and taste what they are making.

I have so many cookbooks. Some of which I haven't even cracked open yet I continue to add to my collection. Some people buy handbags or sneakers....I buy cook books. The only problem I see here is that I never have time to cook recipes from most of them. I tend to stare at the pictures, read over ingredients, study the method and then daydream of someone who I would share this meal with and how happy it would make them.

Food makes me happy.

On that note, I need to get some.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Today I did what I kept saying I would do. I took action for a major change in my life. I have decided that I would commit to my passion and put in a fair effort towards what I really want to do.

Today I submitted my letter of resignation to my office job. Who knew that just seven sentences could bring peace in my mind. Who knew that the same seven sentences could bring an anxious excitement for the future. Who knew?

Why would one leave a decent paying job with benefits and perks for a job in an industry that is physically demanding, inviting a lifestyle that is far different from your nine to five. I have been talking about leaving this job for a while now, partially because I was unhappy there, and partially because my passion laid elsewhere. I suppose that even if I was happy at that job I would have left anyhow as passion, in life and love, steers one in making decisions that can be risky and put one in a vulnerable state.

I found my passion. It took a while but I found it and it feels right. I can't tell you how right it felt to hand in that letter today.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I miss it

I went from going full speed to 0. I haven't worked in the kitchen in a while. It has been 3 weeks now. It's been slow and my hours are cut.

At first it was ok, I needed a bit of a break as I was working way too much between the two jobs. I probably could have done with a week off. Now, it is devastating. I can be dramatic at times, sure, but it is. I miss the kitchen. I miss baking and plating and watching and waiting and listening. I miss the physicalness of the tasks and the heat in the kitchen. I miss the industrial size equipment and the huge boxes of butter and jugs of vanilla. I even miss the annoying buzz of the ovens.

What to do....hmmm....

My best friend is in town for a bit so I've been hanging out with her, that's a plus. I've also been able to cook more at home, that's kinda nice too. Sleep has been more consistent and I have been able to put on make up and get my nails done. I haven't had nail polish on since before November. I miss that, but I'd give up nail polish any day to bake. I'd also compromise sleep too.

I can't wait until things get busier.

In the mean time, here's a picture of a meal I made. Baked salmon with parsley and lemon, and broccoli and mushroom with garlic and butter. Yummmmy!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Fostering Growth

(Photo courtesy of Chef Muriel)

I feel good. I just got home from working at an off site event that featured Ontario VQA wineries and local chefs that support local food. Our Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich, Pastry Chef Christophe Measson, Muriel and I were there. I was supposed to work in the restaurant but it was not scheduled to be very busy so I was asked if I wanted to join them at this event. It was that or a night off....I said yes - of course.

Other than being in the presence of unlimited food and wine, I was very happy to be in the presence of people whom I admire and who I believe appreciate me. Here I am being given the opportunity to experience different things in an industry which I love and these people are thanking me? Our evening ended with them saying how great it is that I am able to be exposed to all these different events and how they are happy that I came. I love this job! To me they are inspiring, they are motivating. Like I've said before, I make mistakes and will make many more. I am however not fearful to go through that process as I know that these people want me to learn and they foster growth in their teams.

What a world of difference from some other jobs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Curvacious Learning Curves

I've got so much to learn. I am reminded of that everyday. It doesn't make me upset for the most part, it actually excites me. I do get frustrated however as I make mistakes but I am happy when I learn from them. The times I am most frustrated is when I know better, should have known better or make the same mistake twice. I don't want to talk about it, so don't ask!

I have been working more and more in the kitchen. In fact, I have been working close to 40 hours a week there on top of my full time job. I am tired but enthused. Am I 100%? I wish I was. Chef asked me that question and I said 'yes!" I soon realized that I wasn't as it was taking me a while to get focused.

In a job like this you need to be focused. You need to be efficient. You need to be quick and smart and good. I will be focused. I will be efficient. I will be quick and smart and good. I will be GREAT!

Working on the line of an open kitchen is slightly stressful. Diners can see you, some even stand there and watch you. If you make a mistake, you have to play it cool. I was plating a dessert and I was trying to make a straight line of sour cherry reduction from a squeeze bottle. I'm usually good at that stuff but this particular afternoon I was having some difficulty. (I was not 100%). My straight line of cherry reduction looked slightly shaky. As I kept obsessing and wiping the plate, attempting-obsessing-wiping....the executive Chef was watching me "it looks fine Sam" she said. I thought she was just trying to be nice but she explained to me what she thought. When things look too perfect they look manufactured, not hand made. In this kitchen we make all of our products. They are little works of art. They are artisanal and should look artisanal. I like that concept and I agree with it. (But sometimes I still find myself obsessing over little things that most may not notice. Maybe I do that in many aspects of my life.)

I work tomorrow night. I'm hoping to learn something new.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Oui Chef

Chef Christophe is featured in the Dine.TO website.

What a great article about him. He only wanted his photo taken if his whole team was there which means that I am in the photo too!!!


Check out the link:

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm still not used to:

*the very unflattering checkered clown like pants that look the same even when you wear them backwards
*burnt finger tips
*batter on my elbows
*not licking my fingers
*not checking my emails every hour
*having dry hands from washing them ALL the time
*short nails and no nail polish
*not eating and tasting everything - mmmmm.....pastries!
*walking into a freezer - it's damn cold
*the amount of salt used in food
*the annoying noise of the oven timer buzzing every 7 minutes or so

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Taking notes....

Say what? Say what? Say what?

Ya ya ya....I'm studying. Well actually, taking notes from a text book I bought in January. I've held it off a little too long but I guess late is better than never. The text book is called 'Baking and Pastry - Mastering the Art and Craft' from The Culinary Institute of America. It was recommended to me by a pastry chef who teaches at the college.

I've spoken to many chefs who have told me that I do not necessarily need to take the professional courses to become a successful pastry chef. What I need is concrete experience in the kitchen. Makes sense...ya! However, I wanted to compliment my concrete experiences by learning some theory at the same time. I think it will make me feel more confident to have additional knowledge. I need that - confidence and additional knowledge!

After this text book, I have another one that I will attack. Oh man...

Friday, May 8, 2009

at your service...

Tonight I worked my first night at the restaurant. When Chef called me this afternoon I thought that I was needed to work an event at the banquet kitchen again.

I was a bit nervous and he could tell. The restaurant was full and there were a couple of parties going on. It was one of their busiest nights. The kitchen at the restaurant is an open concept where by all the guests seated around can see you and everything you do. Oh geez....I was kind of feeling a bit of stage fright. Again, being in a new environment I felt uncoordinated. Even though Chef showed me where everything was I still needed some time to get into the groove of things. That kitchen is a hell of a lot smaller than the production kitchen in which I work. The restaurant's pastry station is in the corner, big enough to take one step back and one to the side. That's it. I was responsible for five desserts and the cheese platter. I had some help but FRANKly, I think I did a good job! It was a nice feeling to have Chef trust me to be there. He also asked me to work tomorrow night. I cannot wait.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

April showers don't phase me. I love my Job!

My job in the kitchen that is...It's been a while since I've felt that.

It's been a hectic last couple of weeks. This morning I felt ill. No, I don't have a cold or the flu. I felt sick because I had to call the banquet chef to tell her that I could not make it for my shift due to a crisis in my other job. As I dialed the number, I felt the acid in my stomach creep up into my throat. You see, I had committed to a shift to help out for an event however, the office that I work at during the week had relocated and the move didn't go so smoothly. It was my fault. I should not have agreed to work this shift during moving week. Moves are always hectic and something unplanned almost always happens. I just couldn't resist this shift however. I really do love it. I had called my friend at 8 am to see if she would take my shift. I was desperate not to disappoint but she could not work. Damn it..... So I made the call to cancel and had to speak to my Chef as the Banquet Chef was not in just yet. "If I can, I will come in." That's how I ended it. That's all I had. The anxiety stayed with me all day long. As it turned out, I was 3 minutes late. I made it afterall.

I couldn't imagine a better Thursday night...Shucking oysters and making Kobe beef tartar. (And tasting it too, of course.) Although my body hurts, I feel really good. It's amazing what you can and will endure when you enjoy something. Working seven days a week is not so bad afterall...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm having Fun but I'm Pooped

For the most part I've been working 7 days a week for the last little bit. I have had a random day off once or twice, but honestly...I don't remember them so they don't count. Last week was a crazy one. I am still trying to catch up with some sleep. These days I catch 10 minute snoozes where ever I can. On the bus, in the waiting room at the doctor's office, in the lunch room and uhhh....sometimes at my desk.

On Thursday night I helped the banquet team with a huge event. It was so massive it was even called the 'Massive Party.' So I worked the full day at my office job then rushed over to the gallery to help out. I think everyone and anyone was working that night. It was a party for about 1800 guests. There was an open bar so needless to say, we had to have a significant amount of food for all these drunken folk. The menu consisted of appetizers, of course. There were mini grilled cheese sandwiches made with brioche and white cheddar; jerk chicken roti; spicy shrimp; mini bison burgers; frites with mayo and a spicy pear ketchup; mushroom risotto balls; mini buttermilk crepes with a horseradish sour cream and pickled beets; cuban sandwiches made with roasted pork, avocado and chipotle spread; churros con chocolate; shortbread and dulce de leche cookie sandwiches; and fruit skewers. Everything was so tasty! There were so many people, so much food and not enough wait staff. Apparently, people loved the food so much that they were waiting by the kitchen doors for it to come out. (Either that or they were super drunk and hungry. Maybe both)

I enjoy working banquets. The energy and rush is so much fun. I'm not quite sure what working in a restaurant during service is really like but I'm assuming it's that same sort of adrenaline kick. I love it when I can get in a zone and 4 hours pass by in a flash. There comes a point when your body and instincts take over and everyone around you seems to be going at full speed along with you yet things are running smoothly. I'm beginning to catch on to the lingo - it feels good to understand what's going on :)

I was told to take a break and walk around the party to see what was going on. It was quite a spectacular event. I almost didn't want to since I was having so much fun in the kitchen. Jeff the Chef took me out for a walk. He needed a break too so we went around the different exhibits and saw the chaos that 1800 drunk people can cause.

So that night ended at 2 am. I didn't get home until about a quarter to three and I of course was wired out of my mind.

Friday evening I helped my friend Juanita with 50 mini wedding cakes.

Juanita is a phenomenal cake designer so I was super honoured when she asked me to help her out. We met at George Brown College at a Basic Baking class. Our workstations were side by side however we had different partners. Although my partner was a riot, I would have wanted to work with her. I think we have similar standards when we create. It was a busy night. Who knew those beautiful little pieces of art would take us to 3 am? I can't wait until next time I work with Juanita.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bloody Blood Oranges

Mmmm....Blood Oranges. I think I have at least one once a week while working in the kitchen. They are so vibrant in colour. I love it when you can see the marbling of orange and red and purple. It looks like someone stabbed a knife into it's juicy rind and cut the fruit's vein and it started bleeding - hence the name Blood Orange.

One of the desserts we serve at the restaurant is a lemon chiboust with blood orange segments. I was segmenting blood oranges for this. To segment oranges you need a really really sharp knife. I was using a sharp knife when a couple of my colleagues handed me what they thought were better knives to use. They were right. The boning knife was super sharp, nice and thin. It sliced that bitter skin off like a hot knife through butter. It wasted no pulp whatsoever. It definitely helped me work quicker and made my life easier. Well, up until the point when I used the knife to flick off a tiny piece of pith that was still stuck on the orange and as I flicked, the knife nicked my fingers and I started to bleed. Waaahhh :( Ok ok. It really was not that big of a deal as you can see in the picture. It is basically like a deep paper cut. As I went to get a bandage, one of the cooks was working by the first aid drawer. He helped me get the bandage and that stupid finger condom that would not stay on. As he was doing that, he showed me all his battle wounds. I swear, the cuts and burns he had were kind of scary.

Anyhow, I survived. Of course no blood contaminated any of the fruit that was going to the restaurant. I cleaned the knife and my workstation. Ate the blood orange that I was working on while I cut myself. And continued on like nothing happened. I only hope that I don't get any cuts worse than that. Owweee!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Today is Sunday, a beautiful one at that. I was just reflecting on some things I've learned either through experience or from what people have told me along the way. Thanks for the advice and tips, I've truly taken them to heart. Here's some of the things I've learned about working in the industry:
  • set up your work station so that you work fast and efficiently
  • work hard, fast and neat
  • always fold your rags neatly on the table
  • write down your mistakes and failures so that you learn from them
  • write down your successes so you remember how you did it correctly
  • stand up straight
  • don't waste
  • ask questions if you don't know
  • don't be shy - you must be assertive to work in this environment
  • speak up!
  • take care of your hands, they are your life
  • sometimes things don't always have to be perfect, sometimes it's part of it's charm
  • if there's an imperfection, I call it 'rustic'
  • help others
  • maintain consistency
  • practice, practice, practice
  • you don't really understand something until you have done it 100 times
  • don't over mix
  • after your shift, get your chef whites for your next shift ready so that you are prepared
  • put things back from where you found it
  • no guts, no glory
  • the days are long and the hours are never ending
  • network and do not burn your bridges
  • get out of the way
  • sacrifice
  • taste it
  • have fun, that's what it's all about
So that's just some of the things I've learned. I'll update the list along the way but for now I'm going to go and enjoy my Sunny Sunday.

ps: Here's a picture of the Pastry team I work with. They are all different characters and all very talented. I am lucky to work with them.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

tossing my cookies

I love making cookies, don't get me wrong. It's just that I would like to do other things as well.

On occasion I make scones from start to finish. Making scones are a delicate process. I only get to make them sometimes.

It seemed like for the most part however cookies were the only thing I was doing....chocolate chunk cookies, oatmeal pecan cookies and ginger molasses cookies.....make, scoop, shape, freeze, bake, serve.....every weekend.....It's time consuming. The batches of cookie dough fit in a large bucket. I usually have a couple of buckets to do.

I know I need to pay my dues. It's part of the process - I get it. I'll do the cookies but please let me do other things too! A chef once told me, 'you don't really understand something until you've done it a hundred times.' I really like that thought. I think about it almost every time I am in the kitchen learning new things. I think about it a lot when I am making cookies. Now, does 100 times mean 100 buckets of cookie dough? I've made thousands of cookies at this point, so I'm gonna count the cookies and not the buckets or else I'm screwed for a while.

So I finally spoke to Chef. I was hesitant at first because I did not want to complain nor seem ungrateful for the lessons bestowed unto me however I decided to say something because I needed him to know that I wanted more out of this experience. I am here to learn and develop my skills, not to pass the time or just make some extra cash.

I finally had a moment alone with him and the conversation lasted about a minute. I asked. He acknowledged, explained, apologized and said he'd make things happen. I trust him. I'm ready :) I can't wait for my next shift!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


I walked into the fridge on Saturday. There was a bucket labeled 'FUCK DAT.' I nearly pissed my pants laughing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

An unexpected Sunday

I initially had the day off but that's ok. I love my job as a pastry prep cook even if I make, scoop and shape hundreds of cookies a day.

There was a hustle and bustle in the kitchen. It's an energy that I feed off of. Today, there was a Slow Cooking Movement dinner taking place at the restaurant. I wasn't officially part of it but my chef invited me to 'come and see' after my shift. Three Chefs were invited to make both savory and sweet courses featuring local farmers' ingredients: grains (spelt) and eggs (duck). So sure enough after I completed all my tasks, cleaned up my workstation and did my last rounds to the cafés and members' lounge, I ran up to the restaurant to see what was going on. I ended up helping out (even if it was just to hold trays and count plates). I missed some pretty exciting-sounding plates but was able to try the desserts.

So as the night ended and I was changing out of my chef whites, we were informed to join the crew at the restaurant for some drinks. After the week I had, and having some plans fall through I would have been crazy not to take that offer.

There sat the Executive Chef, her Sous, the Pastry Chef (my boss) and a hand full of cooks and chefs eating left overs and sipping on what seemed to be an unlimited supply of wine. Conversations with this crowd as you would imagine tends to be about food, eating, drinking, restaurants and anything and everything associated with it. I was amazed to see what a close knit industry this was. I found it somewhat intimidating at first as everyone was speaking about this chef, that chef and where they were cooking and what they were cooking. It was however also very exciting to see movement and growth in the industry as well as support for peers and former workmates. These people are real people. I associate best with real people.

I love being in the presence of like minded folk. I love being in the presence of chefs and cooks. I love to listen to their stories and experiences. I love to imagine myself with their talent. I feel ok that I want to explore different restaurants all the time. I feel reassured that I am in the right least on this specific Sunday evening.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dough! Doh!

Today I had a day off so I baked.

I am taking a bread class this semester. There's just something about freshly baked bread - all warm and crusty and yummy. It's one thing to make the stuff in the baking labs - guidance is readily available when needed, there is access to industrial equipment, there is tonnes of room and the facilities to bake 100 loaves of bread at the same time. At home, I have my gorgeous Kitchen Aide and an oven. I also have other top of the line tools care of my days working at Williams Sonoma.

Two weeks ago in class we made an oatmeal bread. It was a really hearty tasting bread, slightly sweet and earthy. Probably one of my favorites to date. I therefore attempted to make it at home. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out at school for the exception that I think I scored the bread too deep and the instructor left it in the proof a little too long (she said so herself). It still tasted fab, but it looked slightly amusing...and although I thought it had character, I was not that amused. (see photo to the left) Today, on a precious day off, I planned to redeem myself. My homemade oatmeal bread rocked. I encountered another problem along the way though.....

As smart as I am, uhmm, I can on occasion make a silly decision. I put all four loaves in the oven at the same time. I don't think the air in the oven was circulating much with all that dough. I took the bread out too soon and needed to cook it much longer. How do I know if the inside is fully cooked? I don't think the toothpick in the cake trick would work. In any event, I put them back in for a while longer. Everything worked out in the end (see photo to the right).


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Muffin Tops

Just because I make muffins, doesn`t mean I need to sport a muffin top.

Monday, January 26, 2009

mise en place

I've decided that before I can create more adventures, I need to weigh things out and get everything in order.

So I'm 30 and loving it however, I need to get my 'mise en place.' I need to prep myself before I can successfully move forward in this industry. Last year, I made some goals. Entering the culinary world was one of them. Well here I am. As of November 14, 2008 I have been inducted into the culinary world. I was hired as a Pastry Prep Cook. It has been, one of my proudest moments (fromageux, je sais). I only work in the kitchen part time on the weekends for now and I am absolutely enjoying it!

I have already started my 'mise.' I am almost done my baking certificate and I own a Kitchen Aide...a red one for that matter (if nothing, at least I'll look good standing next to it - red is a good colour for me). Working in the pastry department, even if only part time is part of it too. I want to learn. I am keen and eager to learn from these talented chefs I work along side. I hate making mistakes. It frustrates me but I believe that some mistakes are meant to happen. They act as a guideline of what not to do, so long as you learn from them. I've already made some mistakes in the kitchen and you can be sure as hell that I will not do those things again! I want more experience baking.

Should I enroll in more professional patissier classes? Should I leave my cushie and uninspiring 9-5 job to do this full time? Or maybe I can work several part time pastry jobs? I figured if I blogged, I would be able to think out loud and track my progress.

I need to plan out my year. I need to set new goals. I need to put things in place. I need to get my mise on!