Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

A Cake doesn’t matter if you don’t mix the batter and bake it!

Posted: September 22nd, 2009 | Author: johanna | Filed under: Johanna | 16 Comments »
Time well spent

Time well spent

Today, a manager at my job asked about my experience at the Brooklyn Cheese Experiment. As I told her about the dish I made, and the excellent reactions I got from perfect strangers, I’m sure that I was showing more joy than I typically radiate while at work.
Not one to mess around with words, the manager asked me why I didn’t go to cooking college.
The answer of course is simple – when it came time to apply to colleges, I didn’t know how to cook. I had no idea it would be my life’s passion. I thought that I had found my life’s passion, when I started taking psychology classes — before that I wanted to be a writer.

So I applied to college, I studied in Scotland, and there, at 20 years old, I realized that not only did I cook to stay alive, I really truly enjoyed it! A little too late to make a transfer or change my major, but still – I had my goal. I now knew that what I wanted in life was to open a cafe or coffee shop, and feed people daily. It was therapy, as corny as it sounds, just in a different venue. In fact, before I heard Ana Pascal echo my words, I told my roommate at the time that while I’d originally majored in Psychology, I realized that the best way that I could personally be a therapist would be to make people a comforting meal, and help them feel better for a little while.

I didn’t tell the manager at work all of this. I simply told her that I didn’t learn to cook until I was in my 20’s, when I’d already mostly finished college.
She looked at me and shrugged. It’s not too late.
I agreed. No, it’s not too late.

This tiny Russian woman looked at me and shrugged, again, like she’d known me my whole life. If you love something, do it. Why are you wasting your time here? You should be doing something you love. (You’ll have to imagine the accent).

I didn’t really realize I was wasting my time. Am I? Is culinary school really something I want? Do I want to take tests, study, practice brunoise over and over again? Could I ever be a culinary school student? I’m not sure. I’m not sure that it would be beneficial to my style of cooking – slapdash, imperfect, improvisational. I’m not sure that it’s something I’d ever be good at, because I don’t have the patience to brunoise perfectly, to practice trussing a chicken or boning one out or whatever else, over and over again until it’s second nature. I don’t need that in my daily life.

I also don’t want to work in a chef-driven restaurant. I don’t want to be “Chef” Johanna. I just want to cook. But god I hate my job. And I hate to think that I’m wasting my time, that it’s so obvious someone who has only ever spoken to me to get recipes can see it.

Culinary school isn’t my dream. But a cafe is. Maybe I need to take a look at a program where I can learn how to open my own place, what it’ll take, how to write a business plan, etc. Maybe one where I could still work, so I wouldn’t have to panic. The idea of quitting my job, picking up a full-time nanny or barista job, and THEN going to culinary school seems….. not so good. So, we’ll see. I’ll dig. Lord knows I hate to waste time. And maybe I can get even take a few one-day seminars, while I’m studying for my pseudo-business degree.

Or maybe I’ll just keep slogging it out, hoping I don’t waste too much more time.


16 Comments on “A Cake doesn’t matter if you don’t mix the batter and bake it!”

  1. 1 brett said at 8:26 pm on August 23rd, 2014:

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  2. 2 Paul said at 12:53 am on November 22nd, 2014:

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