Sometimes in life, you don’t know the answer but you do know that staying where you are isn’t fixing the problem.
By now, if you’ve kept up with my other blog posts you know I am a dreamer. I set big goals, have high expectations, and reach for the stars in everything I do. I have a go-getter attitude and nothing is ever going to make me any different. Some may say it is how I am wired.
I recently left my full time job, but that’s not the point of this post. The point is why I did that: to get back to who I am and what I want in life. I think what you want from your life can be ever changing, but I don’t think you should stop assessing and chasing after it. I made a leap because I knew life was incredibly too short to be miserable and dictated every single day. There’s a dream in my heart and it is fueled by passion, I could no longer let it sit there and dwindle.
Chasing your dream can come with a lot of reward, but there has to be sacrifice too. That is something I am up for. The reward of building your own dream is far greater than the reward of building someone else’s dream. I guess what I am telling you is that it is okay to take the leap, it is okay to change your path, it is okay to go against the grain. After all, this is the one life you get to live and you have the power to write your own narrative.
In the words of AJR, “These things take time. Mom and dad they have a good life. But what the hell am I gonna do with mine?”
Three weeks ago I stepped back into the kitchen at ICIMB for the first time since March. I walked in thinking I would perfect the craft of baking artisan breads, but truth be told, I learned so much more.
Learning the craft of bread making has been nothing short of amazing. Many days everything went as planned… and even more days we made mistakes and learned from them. Having relatively little experience with artisan breads prior to this class, I knew there was going to be a wealth of information to process. What I did not expect were the relationships built, the laughs shared, and the encouragement from my instructor and peers. Kitchen lessons translate to life lessons 99% of the time and it always comes unexpectedly.
Many instances were frustrating because the process and I didn’t see eye to eye. I had made many of the breads before while working in Layers last fall and admittedly, I felt I should have been better at it than I was. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by a community of learners and a teacher who quickly reassured me that it was okay. I was also fortunate to have a teammate who wasn’t scared to bring me back down to earth and remind me that I am just a student and the extra pressure I put on myself isn’t necessary. As a perfectionist, that is a hard pill to swallow, but as the three weeks progressed I found myself truly believing that it’s okay to not shape the perfect baguette or make the perfect croissants…..it’ll come with time. As I’ve talked with my classmates in and outside of the kitchen, they have shown me that we are all on this journey together and the struggles we have are often shared and we will continue improving….together!
Over the past three week we’ve made so much bread that my family has permanently given up on counting carbs. We’ve made sweet breads, savory breads, and baguettes pretty much every day. My personal favorite item we made were croissants because of their challenging yet satisfying nature when you see the finished product! Oddly enough, it’s super relaxing and a great stress reliever for this year we call 2020!
I’ve gotten this question a lot over the last couple of weeks: where are you located? So I thought I’d share a few tidbits of info about The Boardwalk Baker! I am located in Reidsville and while I do not have a store front, the Boardwalk Baker operates out of a fully certified commercial kitchen.
I am a recent graduate of The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach where I strived to learn as much as possible to be able to best serve my customers.
The name, The Boardwalk Baker, was crafted in the form of a blog after selling Aspen. This allowed my former customers to keep up with my school journey and my culinary aspirations. From there, the name just kinda stuck and became a part of who I am (you can still keep up with the blog here).
I’m so happy to share my passion with you all while I am in Reidsville! If you have any questions or would like to place an order, please send me a message!
I haven’t updated you all in a while, but it’s been a quiet and wild ride.
The past few post school months have been hard, I’m not even going to sugar coat it. There’s been a lot of contemplation, trying to figure out what’s next, what I want my life to look like, where to go, the list goes on and on.
As I’ve been searching for what I want my life to look like now that school is officially over, I found a statement from a book I recently read that said, “value more of who you’re becoming versus where you end up.” Boy did that one hit home. I hadn’t had the words to accurately describe what the last few months have been like but it’s been a battle between staying true to the nature of myself and chasing the ever changing end goal while giving up some things that make me who I am. Needless to say, I don’t want to be the girl who is remembered by the accolades, letters on her chef jacket, or titles she held; I want to be remembered for my giving nature, kind soul, and for passing my passion for the craft onto others. That’s who I want to become.
I’ve decided to chase after that and if the accolades and titles come along the way, it’ll just be an added bonus! Maybe you’ve felt the same way, you’re chasing great things, but they’re changing who you are. Always choose the path to stay true to who you are, I’m not very far in, but I don’t regret it one bit so far!!
I’m still trying to formulate the words for what I’ve experienced over the last week in Mesa, Arizona.
Despite the long and tiring days, my experience was filled to the brim with educational moments, motivational sentiments, and an incredible amount of information. Hearing the story of how Jonathan and Amanda came to own Proof Bread was nothing short of life changing in a way that few people understand. To have someones story impact me in such a profound way was a completely new and foreign sensation- one that I can only hope to pass along to someone else one day.
I came into this endeavor hoping to further my knowledge on sourdough and learn as much as possible about the Proof establishment. What I didn’t know was that this experience would serve as a refueling for a starving passion. This is all thanks to Jonathan’s willingness to be vulnerable with two people who were practically strangers to him.
Buying sourdough bread at the market each week was, what seemed to be, the only constant in his life. There were ups, there were downs, but he always knew that despite the hurdles life threw at him, he could show up to the market and purchase his piece of comfort. One weekend he showed up and the former Proof owner was the bearer of the bad news that they wouldn’t be there the next week, or the next, or ever again. Proof had such a profound impact on Jonathan that he felt inclined to purchase Proof, so that is exactly what he did.
This is but a small slice of Jonathan’s influential story but it is this piece that I put in my pocket and carried with me through the remainder of our week. Some people may look at a loaf of bread as just a loaf of bread, but you never know just how important that loaf of bread may be to someone. In the same way that loaf of bread was to Jonathan.
Hearing this story has given far more meaning to what I do. I’m not just making breads and pastries because it makes me happy, it goes much further than that. Who knows, that bread might just turn into something beautiful.
CWPC Exit Exam has been successfully completed! To say it has been an emotional day would be an understatement.
Since August of 2019 I’ve gotten up each day on a mission to be the best I can while I’m in culinary school. I’ve spent my time putting my heart and soul into everything I do and I believe it has paid off. I have completed this mission and I will be on to the next one hopefully soon. Stay tuned to see where life post school takes me…..we’re still shooting for the stars!
In the mean time I’ll be spending a week in Arizona at Proof Bread!!
46 weeks. The amount of time, minus what Covid took from us, that I have spent inside these kitchen walls. I’m still not sure if I came to school to learn about baking and pastry arts or to learn about people, but I know I’ve done a lot of both.
Tomorrow is a bittersweet day. In one week I will leave this place for the final time as a student here. The next time I’ll be back will be for our pinning ceremony at the end of February. These kitchens have been my second home over the past 18 months. There have been lots of memories made, and lots of growth, not only as a culinarian, but as an individual as well. I swear I’ve learned more about becoming the type of leader and person I want to be in this industry more than anything.
It has been one heck of a journey, especially with the pandemic, but there’s no way I would change any single part of it. The short time I’ve spent here has already impacted my life in ways I never would have imagined. I’ve been given recipes, formulas, and a lot of instruction but the best takeaway from it all are the relationships built, the tough lessons learned, and the experiences I’ve had while here. So here’s to my last week; I plan to cherish every single moment and make some more memories.
Peep this first day of class picture from 2019!! Had you told this girl she’d be where she is now, she would’ve said you were crazy! #baketheworldabetterplace
This may not be the most glorious picture, but it shows a girl who is, on a rare occasion, proud of herself!
This dessert looked no where near this two weeks ago and without the help of chef Blount, it never would have looked like this! I am so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to learn under some of the best chef instructors at The International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. Every day is a new day and even though some are long, hard, and frustrating, I would never change anything about this chapter of my life.
Thank you to Team Dark, they were there for the best days and the worst days over the past two weeks. They cheered me on until the end today. For that, I am so thankful!
Have you ever had something go so terribly wrong that you started to doubt why you thought you could do it in the first place? Yep, me too. Actually, this past week is a prime example of that. If it hadn’t been for my team and Papa Chef, I probably would’ve thrown in the towel. Literally and figuratively.
This past week has been an absolute whirlwind of emotions. That might actually be an understatement. We have been practicing our ACF competition desserts and the vision for mine was really cool, super trendy, and most of all, challenging, which I’m always up for. The more and more I practiced the more and more of a mess it seemed to be. My dessert could have been on one of those “nailed it” memes. It was that bad.
After practice 3 of 5, I had enough. Hours inside and outside of class and I still didn’t get anywhere. It seemed that what I was trying to do was virtually impossible. It was a defeat that I wish I hadn’t had to face, but I did. It was then that my amazing team stepped up, encouraged me to keep going, and began to throw out ideas of ways to create a more attainable dessert for the hour and a half time frame given to compete. And so we did.
I left school on Saturday with a whole new appreciation for team work. One persons struggle made light work for a team and they never once left me to figure it out on my own. I’m beginning to wonder if I am learning more about food or people at this point! I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by to share how important it is to have people in your corner; the ones who are there for the good, the bad, and the ugly (and trust me the dessert was ugly)!
The gingerbread house was so much more than a house; this whole process taught me more about myself and why I do what I do.
Things you learn when you stay a little longer and get a little more involved:
You have the tools you need, sometimes you have to dig deeper to find them.
You can’t do it alone- don’t try to. Utilize those around you to offset what you can’t accomplish on your own.
When you go the extra mile, it’s almost never crowded, you have more fun, and you learn more than a classroom could ever teach you.
Don’t doubt those around you, trust them and you’ll understand why later.
When you have three chefs that all have a unique set of skills and talents, absorb as much as you possibly can from them.
Ask an endless amount of questions and get more opinions than one on anything.
As chef says, start like a lion, finish like a lamb.
Keep in your head that in the end, every ounce of energy expended WILL be worth it.
Completing this gingerbread house was a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience, mainly because of the people I had the opportunity to work with. Kendall and I were guided by three amazing instructors who have so much knowledge to give. The best part of all was the new things we learned that we most likely wouldn’t have encountered had we not said yes. Sometimes, no is good, but often times yes is better. I honestly didn’t have the time in my schedule to say yes to this project, but I did it anyway. A few moments, I thought to myself, “what in the world have I gotten myself into”. It was by far the best yes I’ve said in a while. I can’t begin to explain the depth of knowledge I have gained as well as the life lessons learned just working with such a special team. The journey keeps getting sweeter and sweeter with each yes I say. Next time you think of saying no, re-evaluate, it may be a yes that leads to tremendous growth professionally and personally.
I saw this quote and, to be completely honest, it hit me in a whole different way. Here lately I’ve felt like this hanger pictured below. If you look closely it’s cracked, almost all the way to the top, but not quite there yet. It still serves its purpose. One day, I’m going to try to hang one more shirt on it and it’s going to break under the pressure of that one shirt.
I feel like life is a lot like this sometimes and you’re just waiting for the moment you break under the pressure. Staying calm is the last thing I do when I’m under pressure or stressed out. Quite frankly, I’m the exact opposite of calm and it doesn’t change the situation at hand, but often makes it worse. Whatever pressure or stress we may be under is only temporary and most times we can’t change it. We only create extra pressure on ourselves when we try to control things that are out of our control. Today, I am training myself to quit trying to control the storm, but instead control how I am reacting to the storm. I hope you’ll try this too!