Monday, August 3, 2009

my first cert weekend

Arturo is back. Filemon is gone this week. Gonna be rough week. I think summer is finally here. If not, it's August for sure. I can tell by yesterday's customer count. I've always lived with the belief that if we can survive an August, we can make it thru the next eleven months.

I made it through the first certification exam weekend that was under my watch. I was very pleased. I thought it went well. Most importantly, the only thing I forgot was the formula books, on Saturday morning. Kinda important, but my son bailed me out.

The judges did a great job. Bill Moore, Tom Vacarro and Debra Socha, were outstanding. Very, very thorough. Patiently went over everything with great interest. So many times I see judges in this situation hurriedly doing their job. I'm not sure how many passed. I won't know anything until early next week. I will say the candidates, eight hours were full. They pretty much had to stay with it, at a very brisk pace to finish on time. As a part of the exam, each candidate, must display eight products in order to get credit for completing the exam. Regardless of where the item is in the production process. When the final bell rings, the ovens get turned off. The candidate has thirty minutes to get the goods displayed. I've seen raw product displayed. But better to do that and fail the category, than be marked as incomplete. This was not the case yesterday. They all completed their goods. There were plenty of items that were rushed through, but they were all there.

Chef Melina Kelson,CMB, was our on site coordinator. She gave up her weekend at home, spent twelve, thirteen hours each day with us. All while several months pregnant. She was there to run and get anything the candidates asked for. RBA is in her debt.

Howard Cook spent the weekend with us. Howard is the education and certification director for the RBA. He happened to be in town for a RBA Executive Committee meeting, that was held last weekend, here in Chicago.

So, it's on to the next exam. Next March in Hyde Park, New York. Much to do to keep improving our process. We have our next board conference call, the third week in August.

This weekend, further enhanced my belief in the certification process. I may have mentioned, there are many, many bakers that are not interested in certification. That's fine, but do it quietly. This past weekend, the judges and I were discussing bakers who, almost make fun, of our process. Well, it was unanimous, amongst the same group, then come test. I hear many bakers say, "I can't charge anymore for my goods, if I were a CMB, so why certify", I agree, you won't get anymore for your donuts. "Ice a layer cake and you are a CMB"? European bakers spend years in school to become bakers. I know they chuckle at our process. Their opinion "a long weekend at you are a master baker"? Give us a break, we've been at this for twenty five years. Besides, I've seen a lot of European bakers, fail our exam. It's tough, not only about ones' baking skill's, laying out a good plan, exercising time management, etc. To pass, you must have three things in the works, at all time. Keep your oven full.

If you're thinkin' 'bout certifyin', get in line now. Cause every exam is going to become more difficult. New sheriff in town. As our process improves, the level goes up. So come ice your layer cake. Try it in a different location, with unfamiliar buttercreme, while you're trying to maneuver product in and out of an unfamiliar oven, while other bakers are trying to do the same, while the clock is running, while your being judged, while you need to keep your table clean, and your apron white.

Dare ya.


Blogger Laminatrix said...

No, it won't sell any more doughnuts, but the process itself is worth something. I think about the process by which you ended up on the team: even if you hadn't ended up on the team, the process improved the work you were doing.

On the "Top Chef Masters" show they had the six chefs (famous people, including Herbert Keller and Rick Bayless) split into teams, and each team had to do four tasks: chop onions, shuck oysters, cut up chickens, and whip egg whites so they would stay in an overturned bowl for five minutes. The idea behind it was that the chefs likely hadn't been doing their own prep work for awhile. But they cranked through it, after all; kinda like watching you decorate a wedding cake, practically with your eyes closed.

I'm not entirely sure what that had to do with your blogpost, though.

August 3, 2009 at 3:41 PM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

My dad always said "In business you're always moving, either forward or backwards". I think one just needs to keep pushing yourself. Keep raising the bar.

August 6, 2009 at 9:48 AM  

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