The End?    

October 10 1998
And in the end, the love you take
is equal to the cakes, you bake.

The task of the day:


What will I miss about Hyde Park, NY? Very little. What will I miss and remember about my times here? Countless things. Here's some:

  • Milla knocking on my door needing to go out
  • Shawn's constant question "So, do you want to invest in a restaurant?"
  • Listening to kitchen war stories from just about anyone
  • "Who makes the best chocolates in the school? This class does."
  • Marla's naive foodie enthusiasm (I hope she never loses it)
  • "These cakes are JFB. Just Beautiful."
  • Chef Smythe's sarcasm during food critiques
  • Playing (and losing badly) Take-Two on the bartop with Jason
  • Daniel mugging for the camera with chocolate covered apron
  • Glenn hugging a loaf of Chocolate Cherry Sourdough as if it might be stolen from him
  • Realizing that maybe, when all is said and done, I'm not such a bad chef after all

* * *

This week, we (a class of ten people) made a grand total of 28 full sheet trays of chocolates. For those not keeping score, a full sheet tray is twice the size of what you make cookies on in your home. This is, by any way of counting (and the count is probably somewhere around 5000 individual pieces), quite a few chocolates. We put out a chocolate display on Friday for the dining room, all of which were quickly consumed. They were, without exception, excellent chocolates. We used Vahlrona chocolate to make them, so they were also quite expensive.

I think the best compliments came from the staff at the Red Hook Inn. I brought a large box of chocolates to them Friday night as a way of thanking them for taking care of me while I was here. The most common question to be asked when someone found out that I brought them in was "Where did you buy those?" Followed by amazement when they were informed that I didn't buy them, but made them.

This was probably the best class of the lot, although Hot and Cold Buffet runs a close second. Daniel and I got Chef a gift of a new (unbreakable) coffee cup, and a card. He's really a nice guy, and does a tremendous job of teaching people who have rather limited starting skills. I can't say enough nice things about Chef Grewling.

* * *

So what's next? A question I fear and dread, and also get asked quite a bit. You'd think that by now I'd have some sort of reasonable answer to it. The truth of the matter is that I'm not sure that I want to do cooking professionally. All of the gut instincts and advice say no. It's hard work. Low pay. Not always filled with the brightest of coworkers. Still. What if?

I know for certain that I'll be working on my kitchen in the near future. Lots and lots of things I want to buy for my own personal cooking work. Much reorganizing of the spaces, putting up of racks and shelves to hold said new stuff. More serious thought into a remodel. Hmmm, could I really find a place for a double wall oven, a SubZero fridge and freezer, and so on? Would it lower my houses resale value to ditch the living room in trade for the world's largest kitchen? And what about that $80,000 bread oven? Do I really need a guest bathroom? Wouldn't visitors really rather watch me baking instead? :-)

In the short term, time will also be spent organizing and cataloging the information that I've learned and aquired here. I have 12 binders full of formulas and techniques. Probably not always in the best organization for quick reference. From these formulas, I need to do some recipe development of my own -- turning the base into my own creations. This is something that we only had a minor amount of time to do while we were here.

I'm anxious to put my learning into action. After three months, my brain is bursting with interesting ideas. I'll probably spend quite some time trying them out, and seeing if I can actually pull off on my own the things that I've learned here. I suspect that I actually can. The most important thing I've learned here is that I'm not at the low end of the cooking totem pole. It's strange to realize. Most people in this life are lucky to have and find one thing they are good at doing. I appear to have been blessed with two.

* * *

This journal will limp along for a bit longer, I think. It's likely to warp into some strange "Tom's Food Journal" type of thingie. I also suspect that my organization of cooking information is likely to take place here on-line. I'm going to be doing it all electronically anyway, so I might as well stick it up on the web. Think of it as a handy backup so that it doesn't get lost.

If nothing else, I've got unfinished business with you all. Four rolls of pictures from the summer await scanning and captioning and uploading. I wish I had taken more. The ones that I had are excellent reminders of procedures and equiptment. I wish even more I had broken down and gotten a digital camera. Oh well, such is life.

I also spent some time today putting together a meta-link page for this journal. I looked back over the entries and tried to cite some interesting stuff that happened here. If you haven't been reading regularly (or even if you have), you might want to take a look at it. It's also where I'll hide links to pictures once I get them scanned.

* * *

Tonight, Carol arrives. And there is much rejoicing! We're going to get in a car and start driving back to California tomorrow. It should be a fun trip. I hope that the weather on the East Coast holds up. I'd like for her to be able to get some nice pictures of the fall colors.

past home future


Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy