Long Strange Trip It Is

January 4, 2010

At this exact time, one year ago today, I would have spent my first three hours in chef whites, listening to lecture in a commercial kitchen perched above the humble bustle of downtown Portland, learning to pipe chocolate and icings properly from improvised parchment bags, itching in new polyester, and very concerned with whether I would be able to remember all 9 components of my compulsory uniform the next morning when I boarded the train to school.
It took less than one year for that itchy poly to become well-worn and sweaty, but more comfortable. For my hands to become comfortable holding pastry bags, improvised or not, and to learn that my uniform components were far less important than my production list for the day (or the completed production list from yesterday.) Today, I have my own toque and have earned my title as pastry chef and I really can hardly believe it.
I thought once I was supposed to be a lawyer.
I knew, at one time, I would be an international diplomat. How fabulous I’m not!

Now, its true that this little title, this mark on my head is like all other marks; it means nothing without experience. Without the sweat, panic, and heat of the kitchen to temper me as a chef, I would lose my craft quickly (as many of my colleagues who fail to find confidence in this work and escape to be car salesmen, or work in retail do.) But I’m finding my way – I am realizing there is more exploration along this journey. For as long as I can remember, and certainly since coming home from my work at Providence in Los Angeles this summer, I have set lofty goals for myself in terms of what to do with this new hat. I have been planning to open a chocolate shop/bakery here in Vancouver – to spread my acquired taste for ingredients through chocolate…..and to bake and my own flavors around a community where there is a certain lacking of unique infusion.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, and even if you don’t, you get exactly what you need.

I tend to keep a more ambitious timeline than others….especially government organizations. AND, I am a bit more likely to jump ship and move to a remote island than I anticipate my banker would appreciate. And, in truth, if I WAS NOT ready to do so AND open a bakery at the same time, I would NOT really be ME now would I?!

But, but, I truly believe that making a living is much different than making a LIFE – opening a bakery is a living and a kind of life, as is teaching yoga, as is scuba diving the South Pacific, as is being a cocaine or arms dealer. We make our choices.

The CHOICE to be a chocolatier is not a difficult one – it is something that deep in my little soul I do hope to be. But the LIFE of a chocolatier in Vancouver, Washington in the year 2010 is something that the stars are not aligning for me, which, opens the door to understanding that this life is not something I want to fathom at this moment, either. The life I long for at this moment is much more broad and brave, yet intent on laser focus at the exact same time. To realize all of this was very disappointing at first; as if I had let someone incredibly important {me} down. And then, it was as if a weight had been lifted. Suddenly the puzzle pieces of what I must do were all in front of me, plain as day. I packed my pro formas, projections, packaging pitches and marketing materials up into a pretty little binder and perched it over my desk — for later consultation.

I cleaned off my desk.
Cleaned out my hard drive.
Time to move on. Time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of…..actually…..

Expect quite a bit from me, straight from my heart, in a direction different than any I have had the past. Expect the path to be lined with nourishing fruits – for me, AND all of you.

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