Just like that my culinary career began this week.  I am not going to lie, it was scary.  I am a thinker, as evidenced by how long it took me to make this career decision, so I worry about every little thing and make myself way more nervous than necessary.  Yet since I have brought all these changes on myself and I was very excited, I made a conscious effort not to flip out about anything this week and made a private vow to just accept things as they came.  For me, I did a pretty good job.  Like everything else I almost have a coronary over, the new job went better than expected.

So now I will take a second and put in a plug for my new employer.  Central Market, owned by the HEB corporation, is a specialty grocery store found only in Texas; Houston has only one Central Market and it opened back in 2001.  There is no shortage of specialty stores in any major city.  Whole Foods, Dean and Deluca’s, and Trader Joe’s are popping up everywhere and while I think the food and philosophies of these companies are great, Central Market (in my opinion) has done the best job of meeting the demand for healthy, homemade, organic (not everything but a lot), quality, variety (500 cheeses from around the world), and hard to find ingredients (head cheese).  You know the produce is going to be good, the bread was made that morning, and they will have that random spice a recipe calls for that you have never heard of before.  On top of that (and this what makes CM extra-special), the store absolutely exudes a love for food.  People spend hours shopping, asking questions, and trying samples (any customer can try any product at any time no matter what).  Customers fight their way through the crowd just to eat lunch, cooking classes are always sold-out, and you often see people meeting with a group of friends to eat and shop together.  Some local chefs shop at Central Market for their restaurants and many restaurants order their bread from the bakery.  This week these fellas were in the store as well as Lidia Bastianich (I missed her though) to teach classes.  So, this is a pretty special place if you ask me (maybe I am biased).

Back when Central Market opened, my mom took me there for lunch and to explore.  As a budding foodie, I was in heaven (this was shortly after my summer of crazy meals).  Who new that (gulp) nine years later I would be working there?!  And work I do.  Right now I am primarily stationed at the pastry case in order to get familiar with all the products and to help customers.  Little by little I will start working more in the kitchen helping with pastry production, but so far I have been having a lot of fun working with the customers.  I love how excited people are when they see the beautiful pastry display; they are dazzled by the cakes, tarts, and small pastries and just the act of wrapping up a chocolate mousse for them makes their day.

I was trusted enough to do some hands-on preparation this week though!  I had the honor of filling, baking, and firing the crème brûlée, applying rings of toasted coconut to the Italian cream cupcakes, and filling and decorating the fresh fruit tarts (from mini to large).  So for now, I am very much enjoying peddling sweet treats and proving myself one fruit tart at a time.

Conclusions of the week:  I am so glad I have Dansko clogs, I think I need to invest more time on developing arm (and probably shoulder and back) muscles, and the baklava is the best thing I have tried in the pastry case so far.

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