Lessons 46-50: Half-Time

“This time is going to go fast, faster than you think.” I say this to almost every single class when I meet them as their Career Services Advisor at Lesson 3. And now that I am halfway through the classroom portion of my classes I find myself thinking, “Wow, it is going fast.”

In the last few classes of Module 2, we focused more on puff pastry and were introduced to the two additional types of laminated dough — croissant and Danish. Laminated dough is composed of a dough portion (détrempe) and fat portion (beurrage) that is formed into a pâton. Through all of the pounding, rolling and turning of this dough, I have come to appreciate the effort it takes to make things like palmiers, chocolate croissants or Danish snails.

I am still continually amazed at how much butter we use, making it quite difficult to prepare the dough. Difficult, but delicious. At Lesson 47, we also met one-on-one with Amy Quazza, my colleague and now advisor, to discuss externship interests and career goals. This is the third of four times that we will officially meet with Career Services during the program; the next one-on-one meeting will be at Lesson 83 when I will inform Amy of my secured externship, a 210-hour program requirement once the classroom portion is complete. This opportunity to work in a real-world professional kitchen and put the skills learned from the classroom into practice is one of the things that makes ICE unique. What happens between now and then should be a whole lot of trailing and volunteering. What is the trail? For our purposes, it is essentially, a “kitchen interview” and an opportunity to be behind-the-scenes in a kitchen, meet the players and get a sense if it would be a good fit and learning experience.

I have described this externship trailing process countless times to students, assuring them that the sooner they start and the more frequently they do it, the better. Trailing can ease the anxiety of walking into a professional kitchen with your whites on for the first time and it will better enable you to make a decision about what environment is right for you. Still, I find myself going back-and-forth, thinking over what will be a very new and different experience for me. “What if they ask me something I don’t know how to do?” (Then I can ask, silly) or “I don’t even have any hands-on experience to put on my resume before I send it?” (You can always volunteer. And in the meantime, just focus on those transferable skills, Deanna. You have them, everyone does) — the typical anxiety of a person trying something for the first time, not knowing what to expect. But really, when do we ever know what to expect exactly? That’s actually part of the fun in this game of life and learning.

As I prepared my puff pastry for my practical exam on Sunday, I realized that yes, I’m learning about techniques, but also about myself. And the best part about it all is that I’m having fun in the process. By the way, the title of this post goes out to Chef Instructor Scott McMillen. Thank you for taking us to the midpoint, our “half-time,” a chance to reassess where we have been and what we have learned, focus on the second half of our studies and how it will affect our long-term career record. Our third quarter (I mean, Module) begins today and all I have to say is, “Are you ready for some caaaakes?”

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