I’m going back to square one. Okay, maybe that is a little drastic, but nontheless, I am starting over.
For those that know me already, it is no secret how much food means to me. Food is me. As far back as I can remember I have been excited by food. I have memories of coming home from school and making cookies with my mom and I would pretend I was a famous TV chef (mind you this was long before TV got completely taken over by food). Childhood can sometimes seem like fuzzy memories now, but vividly captured in my mind are perfectly crossed peanut butter cookies, the smell of vanilla and butter blending perfectly together, and the slight crunch of sugar between my teeth as I snuck some dough behind my mother’s back.
I spent the summer between 8th and 9th grade planning weekly meals for my family. The word “meals” may be an understatement, these were, at least to my 13 year-old self, the most elaborate dishes I could imagine. These weekly extravaganzas included a theme (i.e. Asian, Hawaiian etc.), menus, three to four courses, and myself playing the part of both the hostess and chef. In my mind everything was perfect. In reality, I had no concept of timing in the kitchen. As the dinner hour quickly approached one dish would be complete and on its way to being cold, while one might be burning in the oven, and still yet another was waiting to be started. As I think back now, I remember the frantic tornado of my parents’ bodies sweeping in to hurridly finish cooking so we could eat at a decent hour. In the short-term, this summer of themed dinners meant lots of fun for me, but lots of headaches and dishes for my parents. However, in the long-term after years of my parents poking fun of me, I am now a pro at getting everything ready for a meal at exactly the precise moment.
These early cooking experiences are what made me realize you can cook for a living. Considering I was pretty much only allowed to watch PBS as a child, I must have seen Julia Child or another early TV chef cooking on TV and through my “research” in cookbooks for my summer restaurant I met my first professional chefs. In high school, I began collecting cookbooks and recipes and when time allowed I started to cook on a smaller scale. I discovered the beauty that was Gourmet (I miss you!!) and Bon Appetit magazines, was inspired by Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, and started hungrily looking into culinary programs. In the end however, I wound up spending five wonderful years at the University of Missouri and became a Registered Dietitian.
My hopes in becoming a dietitian were to share my love of food and wellbeing with clients. For most of us dietitians however, that just isn’t possible. Our days are full of lab work, tube feedings, busy hospitals with crappy food, or in my case over the past year at WIC, screaming 0-5 year-olds and their fast-food and Capri Sun (aka the high-fructose corn syrup devil) obsessed parents. Not that these working situations are bad and some dietitians do get a little more creativity in their jobs, but for me it just wasn’t working. I would come home at night exhausted, not because I worked that hard, but because I was so drained from having to preach government mandated nutrition advice to parents who could care less about anything resembling produce or even food in general. All the while this (not so) tiny whisper kept nagging me to do something food related.
Then this year, one of my good friends, fellow dietitians (who loves her job by the way), foodie doppelganger, and future (fingers crossed) business partner, Kristy, reminded me how much I love food! I am sure Kristy will come up more in the future, but to make a long story short, she got my foodie juices flowing again. Now the whisper was more of a constant cry trying to get my attention.
Before I knew it I was a year into a graduate program in counseling, that I was enjoying but in the end not entirely convinced it was what I was going to be happy doing for the rest of my life. Over the summer session I took a career counseling course that required us to take several career and interest assessments and while dietetics and counseling ranked high on these tests , without fail the arts, entertaining, cooking, and culinary arts always beat them out. I could not ignore this anymore. After a few sessions with a career counselor, some mini-breakdowns with my husband, and several stressed out conversations with other friends and family, I decided to finally listen and make a change.
So that is what brings me here. I am leaving my job in the next few weeks to start an entry level pastry job in the busy pastry department of a gourmet grocery store here in Houston and plan to start a pastry arts program sometime next year. I know a food blog is nothing new, but I hope to share my experiences in pastry school, changing careers, muses on food, travel and photography, and to use this space as a recipe diary of sorts so I can start practicing creating my own recipes.
Maybe this isn’t really square one, but the place that all my experiences have lead me to. I can’t wait to find out!