Sunday, May 31, 2009

Defining work

I left the bakery yesterday around 4pm. Long day. Business in the store was great. Markets did well. My feet and back were aching. It had been almost fourteen hours without sitting down. But ya know, it felt good. Based on the number of folks that came in the store and all we sold at the markets, it makes our efforts worthwhile.
Besides, the bakery isn't work. Painting the garage or cutting the grass, those chores are work. My oldest child is twenty five. Never once heard me refer to the bakery as work. I don't go to "work". I go to the "bakery". Thirty four years, in a week. June 6th, '75. Never once got up and said "I wish I didn't have to go to work today". Not once.

I really didn't think much about the whole flour thing, after that day in '98. I really didn't understand the value, other than the aroma of that bag. The team went on to win the Coupe. The year following the Coupe, in April, I attended the annual Retail Bakers of America convention in Minneapolis. The BBGA had set up a little bakery in their booth. It was manned by the three bakers that won the coupe. Robert Jorin, Jan Schat and Tom Gumpel. Down that same aisle, the NBC had a booth. It was manned by Greg Tompkins, the baking centre director at the time. He was sitting there alone. He was sitting on a stool so he looked me in the eye while sitting. I told him I wanted to register for a class at his school. He opened the class catalog, and pointed to the offerings. The classes were listed starting with "Artisan I" followed by "Artisan II". There were a full list of classes, but those were the two that I focused on. I said "I've grown up in a bakery, I'll start with artisan I". He said "I think you better start with Artisan II". I couldn't understand why, questioned him, and he said "I think it best you start with Artisan II". I listened and signed up. Scheduled a class for October. Best advice anyone has ever given me.

I attended that class. I was reintroduced to Didier Rosada, and Philippe LeCorre. I was also reacquainted with the proper flour.

I still have that course catalog that Mr. Tompkins gave me. It really was just a tri-folded piece of paper. A picture of Didier and Philippe on the cover. But on the back flap it says, "Plan to have all your preconceived notions about baking challenged". That's just what happened.


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