On August 27, 2013, I received my diploma for completing the Classical Pastry Arts program at the International Culinary Center in Campbell, CA. In other words, I graduated from pastry school!
Over the course of 10 months, we learned the fundamentals, techniques and creativity that go into tarts, cookies, pâte à choux, puff pastry, viennoiserie and certain breads, cakes, petit fours, chocolate, sugar sculptures and plated desserts. I hoped to document the experience as I went, but life and work got in the way. Instead, I now hope to reflect back and recap the challenges and triumphs throughout the experience, and ultimately share the joy of it all.
The experience was a dream come true for me, the sort of thing where I used to say “man, if money didn’t matter, if social and parental expectations didn’t matter, and I pursued what I was passionate about, I’d go be a pastry chef.” Eventually, I got to the point where I asked myself, “why not?” Life is too short to watch days, months, years go by wishing you were doing something else. And as some of you know, when I choose to commit to something, I like to do it right and do it well. That is what brought me to ICC.
I knew that I would have to manage my own expectations. It was hard enough to be an attorney at a big law firm, with very little control over my workflow and schedule. Sometimes I would work more at night and over the weekends than I did during the day. Sometimes the long hours meant I didn’t sleep, and other times I twiddled my thumbs. I hadn’t taken a vacation in 2 years. Adding on ~20 hours a week of school (MWF 6-11pm, plus some reading and studying and the rush hour commute) was insanity. But as I learned in college, sometimes the more you have on your plate, the more focused and efficient you become. I just crossed my fingers, reminded myself that my happiness was just as or more important than year-end bonuses or perfect grades, and committed.
Crazy or not, this was the most personal and meaningful diploma of the 4 I now have (I do plan to stop . . . 4 is quite enough). I feel lucky and grateful to have been at a place in life where I could afford myself this opportunity. Was it worth it? Unconditionally, yes! Stay tuned folks, I look forward to telling you more about these past 10 months.