I’ve always had a soft spot for decorating cakes

Perhaps one of the things I have loved most about being in the pastry business is getting to decorate cakes. Thanks to the food network almost everyone that goes to pastry school (or at least applies to a bakery) thinks they’ll be decorating cakes right out the gate. 

I used to work for a casino, that was an adventure in of itself, and providing desserts for a buffet is no easy task. I used to produce hundreds and hundreds of mini desserts each day but every once in a while I would be given the task of making the cakes. When I was in pastry school my chef would tell us “if you cannot build and decorate a cake in under 30 minutes no one will hire you”. Now I know that is not necessarily true but it is a good goal to hit. By the time I left the casino I was able to build and decorate a cake in roughly 10 minutes. Sure, by the end of an eight hour shift (and roughly 80 cakes) I would hate the mere sight of cake but the annoyance never lasted long. 

Cake decorating is definitely a skill that needs to be maintained. I went from doing 80 cakes in a single sift to none at all at the next kitchen I worked at. A decorator at the next kitchen would remind me that I was a baker and not a decorator, as a result I got it into my head that I simply could not decorate cakes. For almost a year I would simply tell myself that I could not attempt the beautiful cakes I saw in magazines, Pinterest, or Instagram because I wasn’t skilled enough. It wasn’t until a fellow baker, becca, reminded me that you simply had to practice over and over in order to get better. Becca would often tell me to just go for it and I admit that helped tremendously. Even looking back on some of the cakes I did before that job I was amazed at how well I decorated before I decided it was something I wasn’t good at. 

I’m a little scared. I start my new job on Monday and I haven’t done office work in over seven years but I now wonder if it’s something like cake decorating. Will I just need to remember that I’m good at it? I’m looking forward to having a more set schedule. I’ll be able to practice cake decorating more when I get used to this new schedule. I’ve already started compiling a list of designs I want to try. 

There’s never a shortage of people wanting to take cakes off your hands. 

I don’t really worry about what I’ll do with all the extra cake. I will admit something that always bugs me is when you mention wanting to try a new recipe and you get three-four people volunteering to be the taste tester. Their hearts are in the right place but it’s important to remember I working in the culinary industry. I can’t afford extra ingredients most of the time so if you really want me to make you those chocolate mousse cups offering to come hangout and help with ingredients is more likely to get you dessert than “whenever you’re done I’ll come grab it.”

Now I might actually have some extra money in my budget that I can set aside for experimenting with new techniques and recipes. 

Might start with those geode cakes I keep seeing. 

So I walked away from my dream job

When I was three years old my mother and I were curled up on the couch watching Death by Chocolate with Marcel Desaulneirs. He was making chocolate mousse in edible chocolate bowls with fresh raspberries, it was that episode that made me decide that I would play with chocolate for a living. I remember thinking my mother was lying to me when she said I could. When I was 22 I succeeded in that decision, now at 29 I’ve decided to stop.

Crazy! Outrageous! Who in the world walks away from their dream job? My guess is many people. Throughout my life I had heard it all. I knew about the long hours, I knew about the working holidays, and I knew that the money would be minimal. That’s not the reason I’m going in a different direction. I guess somewhere in my life my goals changed. I missed weddings and birthdays. I’m on a different sleep schedule from my husband.

I’m not leaving because the job was hard.

Nearly all my past supervisors and bosses have told me I have what it takes to be a chef, but I think that in order to truly chase that dream and title I would need to move. There is not much of a food scene where I live. My husband is amazing and I think if I told him he we needed to move he would start researching immediately. How could I move us away from our friends and family? Further, we have other dreams. Dream of home ownership, dreams of puppies and dreams of travel. I wanted to go Paris by the time I was 30. There is little chance of that happening now but I know we’ll get there one day. We could eventually reach all these goals even if I stayed but it would take much longer and why should these goals be placed solely on my husbands shoulders?

Since giving my two weeks notice I’ve had three cake orders.

I’m not really worried about completely moving away from the industry, my new job is slightly related and as soon as you graduate pastry school you have not shortage of people needing cakes. It’s nice, people trust you with the most important days of their lives.

When I finally decided to leave, I cried. That sounds over dramatic but it is true. I thought I had surely disappointed everyone that supported me throughout pastry school. It turns out people just want you to be happy. Who knew? People who were/are actually in the industry were the most joyous for me! Good going Pixie! You’re free! Pastry has been the mos incredible experience. I have met so many wonderful people and has so many wonderful experience, there is nothing quite like plating 1200 desserts on New Years Eve, for that I’ll always be grateful but I think I understand it. You have to be a special kind of masochist in be in this industry. I won’t miss people dismissing what I do with a simple, “Why is it that much I can make a wedding cake for $30 at home!”

I’m happy with my decision, still, there’s a part of me that doesn’t really want to tell many people. It seems like you are supposed to pick one narrative in your life and once you start deviating from it the world will somehow collapse. Pick a dream job, get married, and buy the house with the incredible kitchen. What happens when the dream changes?

When I was younger I literally thought it was impossible that I could fall in love and be loved so yeah the idea of working the weird hours of a chef didn’t bother me. Now that I near my 30th birthday I realize that I want to be around friends and family. That is so weird.

So there it is. I gave my two weeks at my dream job because the dream changed. I’m okay with that. In fact I’m down right excited and happy with my decision. I’ll still make cake. I’ll just do it for people I love now.