Sunday, August 2, 2009

green peas and a plastic scraper

The first day of our test weekend is done. It's the morning after. It was an exhausting day. For both myself as well as the judges, site co-ordinator and candidates. We ended up with four CB candidate participants. Marc Levy from here at Bennison's, and Luminita Cristea, from Chicago, who used to be at Bennison's. Cheryl Adkins, is a Culinary instructor from Holland, Michigan and Joungmee Park is from Madison, Wisconsin. They all performed very well. they had their success's and their struggles. As required, Marc made two perfect coffee cakes. Magazine cover quality. Lumi iced her layer cake with perfection. Cheryl turned out the nicest sticky buns I've seeb at one of these exams, and Joungmee made an apple pie, that when I saw it cut, I said "we don't make pies that nice". I was very proud of them, 'specially Marc. They should be proud of themselves. Proud that they did it. So very few have done it, compared to how many could do it. The same is true of the CMB candidates that will bake again today. I don't know the results, nobody will for at least a week. At this point the results are irrelevant. The four that finished yesterday are better bakers because of it. They pushed themselves to learn new skills and exercise them in unfamiliar surroundings. The bakery world is better for it.

I think the greatest reason I'm involved in this whole process, is because of the bakers I meet. We are a unique bunch. Our profession is based on early morning starts, and we are busiest when other folks are enjoying their lives, ie. Christmas and Easter. Bakers are "salt of the earth people". there is an older fellow baking today. Woodward Powell. When you're back is turned to him, he sounds just like Bill Clinton. They are both from Arkansas. He seems kinda "a good olde boy". Always smiling. Can't totally stand up straight. Got the look like he spent his life rollin' biscuit dough with a wooden rolling pin. In every bakery, everywhere, us bakers use a "plastic scraper". In culinary school they are referred to as "bowl scrapers". They are the most used, abused, coveted, versatile, taken for granted, valuable, ignored, useful piece of plastic, in the world! They are approximately 5 1/2 inches long, 3 5/8 inches high and they weigh 24 grams. Three flat sides, and the fourth, is a little rounded to facilitate scraping round bowls. These little items can save a bakery more money, than any other tool. simply by being used to scrape the remaining, last ounce of jam or icing out of a plastic bucket. Many times a month my dad will come to me with a scraper full of whatever, and say "here". With the empty bucket in his other hand. Nothing more need be said. I know what he is implying. John Roeser said the same of his father.

Yesterday, woody, kinda looked me right in the eye, pulled a plastic scraper from his back pocket, and said, in his Clintonesque tone, "when I was a young man, starting in the bakery, I was working for a mean, old b________d". He told me "son, when you can eat green peas with one of these, you can call yourself a baker". I chuckled, a few minutes later, I laughed a little harder, on my way home, in the car, alone, I laughed until I cried.

Wait until I bring that up during the next certification board meeting. Gonna be hard to create parameters for that.


Blogger Laminatrix said...

An old Ogden Nash rhyme:

"I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life
It makes the peas taste funny
But it keeps them on the knife."

Or on the bowl scraper, for that matter. Not that a baker would ever have a trick or two up her sleeve . . .

August 2, 2009 at 12:01 PM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

Woody was a character. Helluva nice guy. He's 67 years old. The exam is a lot of work for a young man, can't imagine how Woody felt. He struggled some. Worked right down to the bell. I told him I blogged about his scraper/pea story. He said "what's a blog"?

August 3, 2009 at 6:48 AM  

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