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