Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Prodigal Returns

I know, I's been too long...way too long.  I appreciate all of the inquiries, concerns about my well-being (and no, PAB, I am not dead!), even the slight badgering I've received - I've missed you all, terribly!  I wish I had some great excuse - but let's just get this over with quickly - yank the proverbial BandAid off with one fast pull - I don't.  As a matter of fact, I've got a really lame excuse...I've been busy...I know, that's really (really) lame.  So, as with the Prodigal Son, I am returning - full of shame, acknowledging my wrong-doing, admitting my guilt..and, yet hopeful that you will forgive me and welcome me back into your blog-reading need for a fatted calf, however - I'll bring the food.

So, even more important than the questions about why I haven't written is the bigger question - what the heck have I been doing for the past two months?  My last blog was about Paris - YIKES!! - and I've been home for months now - so, I think I owe you an update on Mon Voyage Culinaire - my Culinary Journey.  If I really dig deep and think about it, that might be part of the reason that it's been so hard for me to pick up my computer and write - this need to explain to everyone what I'm doing with my life after pastry school in France...quite frankly, that's been a little intimidating.  It's not that I haven't been doing cool, foodie stuff (and, I have some good recipes and great pics to retrospectively blog about and catch you all up) - instead, it's this gnawing feeling I've had that I need to have some deep and meaningul "TA DAH" give some great decision about what I'm doing with my life...and, of course, I don't have one.  There - I said it, it's out there - the truth is, I'm still trying to figure out exactly what it is I'm doing - whew!! what a relief! 

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to go to Pastry School in France, and especially to do a stagiere at a pastry shop in Paris - it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I learned so much - not just about the mechanics of making pastry, but it also helped me think about what I wanted to do in the culinary world.  I loved learning the techniques and making beautiful pastry - but, the truth of the matter is, I'm not so sure I want to make food every day for a living.  I love food, I love the culinary world, and I especially love baking and pastry - but I'm pretty sure that I don't want to bake everyday for a living.  As much as I enjoy it - I just don't see myself standing day-in-day-out over a counter rolling bread and/or making scones.  That's all well and good - but, if I don't want to bake everyday - what exactly do I want to do, you might ask.  Now that's a really good question, I might reply....not sure I have a really good answer, however.

Luckily for me, some opportunity has presented itself at each turn in my culinary journey - and, my return from France was no exception.  Just as I was finishing my stagiere and wondering exactly what I would do when I returned to the US, I got an email from my friends at Cook's Warehouse with an opportunity there - they were looking for someone to serve as their Cooking School Lead at one of their stores.  As you know, Cook's Warehouse and the folks I have met through there have been a major influence on my culinary journey - and I was thrilled with the opportunity to be a part of the Cook's team.  In this role I get to work with the Cooking School staff and the chefs to make sure that all of the cooking classes in our store are executed with excellence.  It's a blast - I get to work with lots of chefs (both local and traveling), store employees and volunteer assistants - it's a great group of people that love food and love the cooking school.  I'm learning a ton, having a great time and constantly being exposed to new food, new techniques and new recipes.

My job at Cook's is 20-30 hours a week - so, when I'm not doing that I'm lucky enough that I still get to work for my friend and mentor Gena at Culinary Works doing crazy-fun, amazingly cool culinary events.  Since returning from France I've had the opportunity to work with her at the Taste of Derby (a major charity event featuring 19 chefs preparing food for 1500 guests, put on by Churchill Downs the week of the Kentucky Derby) and the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival.  We're now back at it planning the 2013 Saint Simons Food & Spirits Festival - which will be even bigger and better than last year - I can't wait for that!

So, while I might not know exactly what I want to do, I have discovered quite a lot about myself through the various experiences and opportunities I've had so far in my culinary journey.  I've come to realize that I really enjoy the operational aspect of the culinary world (i.e., the work that gets done to make the "event" happen) more than I like the production aspect (i.e., the actual making of the food).  I have discovered that I like working on "events" and "projects" more than I like day-to-day delivery of food.  And, I definitely know that I need to work with a team, to work with people - sitting on my own making tarts or piping macarons would certainly be the death of me! 

You may recall that, when I quit my job, I gave myself two years to figure out this whole culinary career change - well, I'm a little over one year into that two years (hard to believe how fast time flies!!).  I feel amazingly blessed and lucky to have had such great experiences over the past year - and, as I said above, I feel that I am a little closer to figuring out exactly what I do (and don't) want to do.  At times I get a little frustrated/nervous/worried that I don't have it totally figured out - but then I have to remind myself that it is a journey - that I am on "mon voyage culinaire" - and I can breathe just a little easier.  So, here I am - a mid-life work in progress - it's quite an experience and quite a lesson.  I'm happy with where I am right now - learning lots in my current jobs -- actually making a little money - and still trying to gain as much knowledge and experience I can to help guide my future. Thanks for your support and staying with my through the journey!

So - in addition to all of my deep thoughts and self-revelations, I thought I would leave you with a few pictures from one of my recent learning experiences -  my first ever real "catering" job.  My fabulous friend Casey asked me to cater part of her recent birthday party  - appetizers and desserts for 50 people!  It was great fun and a great learning experience - and, I actually think the food turned out pretty darn tasty!  Just one more step along my culinary journey!

"Southern-Inspired" Appetizers - Vidalia Onion dip served with chips, Pickled Okra Roll-ups, Roasted Tomato chilled soup shooters, Pimento Cheese Toasts topped with Bacon Jam 
These little babies were super tasty - Pimento Cheese toasts with Bacon
Jam - after all, who wouldn't like anything topped with Bacon Jam?
Southern Dessert Sampler - Red Velvet Cupcakes, Coconut Cupcakes, Georgia Pecan Brownies, Salted Caramel Banana Pudding Parfaits

I thought I'd never make another cupcake again after last December - but I couldn't resist.

These little guys were a big hit - salted caramel is the perfect touch for this old-fashioned favorite.


  1. Loved this post. It is hard to decide what to do when we grow up. So glad I met you and everyone at Cook's.

  2. So happy for the update, glad to see we haven't lost you in a bag of flour. I think your steps to your success are just that...your steps. We all have a dream, big or little, sometimes the path is the dream. You are gifted in many ways and maybe that "multi-tasker" gift may be the greatest enjoyment for you. Happy dreaming!