Star tips and comfort zones

Sprinkled within our 23 weeks of Culinary training are 3 weeks of Pastry & Baking. Today marked day one of pastry. And what brings an audible- albeit muffled- moan to many of my classmates is a total breath of fresh air to me. I’m definitely not afraid of a mixer.

I first suspected this might be the case last week when we had to pipe puréed potatoes through a pastry bag fitted with a star tip. For the ten seconds it took me to pipe my little pile of starch, I felt confident. And it looked just like Chef’s demo. Score! For most of my partners, it was quite the opposite: this was a first experience outside their culinary comfort zone. And that’s not always fun.

As a general rule, most of us tend to enjoy activities in which we feel successful. I’m fairly sure that’s normal. Venturing away from an area where we feel comfortable and confident is tough. That has been the story of my last three weeks. Heck, that’s been my last year. But it’s also one of those exercises that seems to get just a little easier each time we try it.

So for this week I’ll welcome the comfort of fruit tarts and pie crusts, custards and crémes, baguettes and brioche. I’m hoping not to welcome an extra five pounds in the process. But complacency won’t have sufficient time to settle. Charcuterie and organ meats doubtlessly linger right around the corner.

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