Tuesday, July 29, 2008

2 weeks update

i've worked at satura for two weeks now. i've got blisters, bruises, frostbites, and soreness on muscles i never knew i had... hahaha

i gotta admit, the first week was tough, physically and mentally. coping with two jobs and cake orders over the weekends are not easy. i felt like there's no time for a break and no time for family. i'd be lying if i said that i've never thought of quitting or that i've got more skills and shouldn't be wasting my time there.

but anyone who knows me would know that i'm not a quitter ^_^. so i kept going. i realized now why i want to continue working there. i'm a baker and a cake decorator. but i'm not a chef... yet ^_^

i know how to bake. i know how to decorate. but i don't know how to work efficiently with more than one tasks at hand. i don't know how to troubleshoot if something goes wrong with my product. i don't have the confidence, or the speed, or the leadership skills that's needed to run a kitchen.

i read a very interesting article the other day: Becoming a Professional Chef

i can settle on being a seasonal home baker or cake decorator, but i choose to spend some time to continue learning about this industry. what doesn't kill me only makes me stronger ^_^.  


Monday, July 21, 2008

things i never thought possible

reality sometimes is not as pretty as your imagination. sometimes it's the opposite. nevertheless, you never really know what you sign up for until you actually do it.  it's easy to say "that is so easy to do, i can do it too!".  but execution is the real deal.    

i've worked at satura cakes for 4 days now.  i've done some things that i had never thought of or even dreamt of doing. examples such as:
  • cutting strawberries for 2hours+ (yes... that is a LOT of strawberries!)
  • assembling sheets of strawberry shortcakes 
  • making a humongous batch of whipped cream
  • getting frostbites on my fingers becoz i was holding on frozen sheet pans full of mango coconut mousse cake that definitely weights more than 10lbs for too long 
  • having to change my chef jacket everyday becoz i got so much stains on it (and hey, i was one of the cleanest person at school!)
  • getting sticky apricot glaze on my face while trying to spread it 
  • cracking ... probably about 300+ eggs... separating yolks and whites
wow!  i was truly awakened by the reality.  when i first heard i was gonna be in the cake team, i was like "woohoo! i'll be making cakes all the time! fun!".  it didn't register to me that i'll be working at a "production kitchen".  and in the midst of it all, a light bulb appeared on my mind and i went: "AHA! no wonder it's called a production kitchen".  it produces all the products for two branches of satura cakes, and two other bakeries/cafes that serve products from satura cakes.  and how do all of those sweet stuff magically appeared?  well.....from the hard work of all the people working in the production kitchen!  

it's been only 4 days.  so things might change.  i still get excited when i get to decorate a cake, but this mass production thing... well ... i don't think it suits me.  but hey, maybe i'll get buffed and lifting all ~20-50lbs will not be a problem anymore! ^_^

i did get saturday off cuz i was making a baby shower cake for a friend.  

now THAT i really like to make.  i was cutting it close this time since i didn't really have all the time i usually have to prepare for a cake.  i just finished making all the decor on friday night.  the topper wasn't dry enough when i deliver the cake on saturday.  so the tail of the cradle broke *hiks*.  but overall i think it still looks pretty cute ^_^.  

i'm getting this saturday and the next one off too.  but after that, it's work 7days/week. *SOBS* i miss my lazy sunday mornings!!!!!!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

moving forward

isn't life interesting? one moment you feel like you're going nowhere. and then all of a sudden the ball starts rolling, the stars are all aligned, and the universe begins to move in a fast lane and it feels like a whirlwind all around you.

i remember thinking, not more than a month ago, how bored i was. i remember wondering where i should be going and what I should be doing. i remember thinking how stagnant my life has become. it's like i've encountered a stop sign and i didn't know where to go.

well... all that is changing as i write this blog.

ever since i started thinking about externship, only one place came to mind: Satura Cakes. i'm not sure why that place has such a strong appeal to me. maybe it's the japanese influence. maybe it's the atmosphere. maybe it's my limited knowledge of other bakeries around the bay area. who knows? whatever it is, i know that i was having the hardest time drawing up a list of other possible externship places.

it wasn't very quick for the career service group from my school to get it touch with Satura Cakes. but i never took it off my list. one day i finally got a contact information for the HR person at Satura. i immediately wrote an email to him, not wanting the opportunity to pass. i was crossing my fingers, and hoping that he would at least call me back.

he called me back not more than one hour after i sent the email. he was excited about me and i was ecstatic that he called! he said that he's going to set up an interview between me and the chef as soon as possible. but then..... i did not hear back from him. i started thinking that i didn't get it. perhaps the chef looked my my resume/portfolio and was not impressed.. perhaps he doesn't think i'm a good fit... perhaps this.. perhaps that.

after a week, i gathered up the courage (thanks to hubby) and called him back. i think that's when everything moved to the fast lane.

an interview was scheduled.
it was then conducted.
a job was offered.
and i gladly accepted.

all the paperworks are going to be finalized on saturday. scheduling will also be discussed on saturday.

so here i am... standing at an intersection. i'm moving forward.

it's gonna be hard work. 40hrs there, and 20hrs at the university. we'll see where this road is going to take me.

say hello to the new Assistant Pastry Chef at Satura Cakes ^_^v

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"p" is for ....


it's true when they say that it's important to plan, but at the same time be flexible enough to accept that sometimes things don't go as planned and you have to improvise.

this piano cake i made for my big brother's bday has changed from plan A to probably plan Z. ha ha ha... but in the end, it still turned out nice. the original plan was for a two tier cake, a black piano topper with a pianist, and "happy birthday" notes around the cake. wakakaka... as you can see, things really didn't go exactly as planned.

when i was making my cousin's wedding cake, i remember thinking that that cake was the most difficult/challenging cake i've ever made. i thought the same thing when i made kyle's cake. now i realize that every cake i make is always harder than the previous one. and i actually really enjoy it. it's really a good learning opportunity for me to improve my skill and learn how to create new stuff.

this time i learned to work with pastillage even more. i worked with pastillage before back at school when i made this piece. pastillage (pronounced: pas-tee-ajh) is essentially a type of sugar dough that's made from a mixture of sugar, some starch, water and some gelatin. it's the same ingredients that builds altoids (according to my teacher). pastillage hardens to a very hard and strong consistency that it snaps to pieces when you try to break it after it hardens. but that's also the characteristic that makes it desirable to built structure. pastillage forms a skin very quickly, so when working with it you have to work really quickly and with a plan in mind. i already drew some template before i roll the pastillage out. even then it was still difficult to beat the ticking of time as the dough began to crust. the most challenging part for me was assembling all the pieces. the best thing to use to glue pastillage pieces together would be isomalt. isomalt is a type of sugar substitute that has very similar properties to sugar. it doesn't caramelize the way sugar does, and sets quickly, making it perfect for building sugar pieces. unfortunately, isomalt is very expensive and i had none at hand. i ended up using royal icing, which works well but takes time to dry. it was okay to glue pieces that do not have to stand on its own (for example: the body of the piano). but when it comes to attaching the legs..... oh- my - god! it took forever to set. and being the impatient person that i am, i keep trying to speed up the process and "check" to see if the icing has harden by touching the legs slightly... which ends up causing it to break... over and over and over again (yep, i did it more than once! hehehe). in the end, i gave up and decided to let it set overnight. it took me a while to complete the piano. by the time i was done, it was already thursday, and i didn't have enough time to make the pianist. also, i had never used an airbrush before, so i wasn't sure what type of coloring to use. instead of risking it all, i decided to just leave it white. as for the "happy birthday" notes on the side, i decided that it was just too late to do that. i might try that idea in another cake.

i looked at my sketch after the cake was fully assembled... they look so different, yet so alike *hmm*.

plans can be made, but some times the execution can be a totally different thing. but one way or another, the plan is what helps guide you to the finish line. without a plan, you might not be going anywhere.

anyway, my brother seemed to be pretty happy with that cake. the cake is a chocolate strawberry cream cake. i originally planned to make a caramel mousse cake, but realized (only after i made TWO caramel mousse cakes) that it's not a good idea to make a mousse cake for an outdoor bbq. that's another "plan" that didn't exactly work out. ^_^

well... on to my next adventure.... whatever that might be ^_^