Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Professional Baking is no Easy Bake Oven

My job search has not been going very well, so I have taken this opportunity to branch out. The other day I went around to local bakeries, inquiring if they would hire a novice home baker wanting to learn more about the industry. Most bakeries (at least in my neighborhood) were cutting hours, and were not taking on any new hires. One bakery, however, informed me that they take on interns who want to learn more about the business. One small catch - they don't pay them.

While I would definitely prefer something that pays, I thought I would take the opportunity to try out for an internship.  I would finally gain some insight into the feasibility of my dream - opening my own bakery. I showed up for work at 9am (not too bad, considering most bakers start at 5am). With no chef's clothes to my name, I made do with a long t-shirt, sweats, and a bandana. I felt like I was getting ready to play goalie on my high school field hockey team (a feat more similar to what I would experience than I could ever have imagined).

The owner and pastry chef conducts herself in an extremely professional manner. I could tell she was a no-nonsense kind of woman, yet she seemed willing to let me learn on the job. She assigned me to two tasks for the day - almond croissants and midnight cake. Easy right?

I quickly learned the difference in quantity between professional and home baking. A cup of flour, try 10 pounds! I lifted heavy objects, I hauled large trays into the oven, I used muscles I have never used before! But professional baking isn't just about massive amounts and heavy labor. It requires skill, precision, and speed. No easy task, especially for someone who just stepped into the bakery kitchen. 

By day's end I was exhausted - having stayed on my feet for 7 hrs with nothing to eat. I had baked 10 sheet cakes and made 80 almond croissants. But more than material products, I had gained experience in a professional kitchen - learning the equipment, the methods, and the focus one must have to accomplish each task. I also signed up to work for 2 days a week for 4 weeks. 

Let the baking (and the experiment) begin - stay tuned!


Gastronomer said...

Kick ass, Ariel!! I've ALWAYS wanted to work in professional bakery. When you finally open up your shop, I'll intern for free.

Anna said...

Ariel that sounds really intense but really cool. Does working in a bakery ultimately make you love baked goods or hate them?

Ariel said...

Time will tell, Anna. Right now I still love them, but I've only worked one day!

Malia said...

I have to say I'm a lil jealous...but its a good thing you're getting experience in the business of baking that way we'll have all the know-how we need for our JAM bakery! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, did they give you the proper attire--special baker's hat and gloves?