Trouble in Pastry School

Hi, friends — and welcome to my sooner-than-expected pastry school bitch fest.

Well… maybe it’s not a really a bitch fest. It’s more like a frustrated fest, with angry venting, and lots of negative expressing that might lead me to a place of inner peace and clearer understanding.

Okay. The story so far is that I love pastry school, right?

I love my class, the theory material, the pastry making, the fact that I’m doing something I really enjoy with a few awesome classmates and a very talented chef instructor.

But then our chef instructor goes on a three week vacation to Italy and now we’re into our second week of chef instructor subs. The first sub I totally adored — she wasn’t big on lectures, but she effectively guided us through the hands-on part of the class and was a patient person who moved at a good pace.

The next sub, though… wow — just wow.

Polar opposite in philosophy and attitude: she talks big and wants us to move fast (yet ironically we seem to not get as much done during class), neglects to tell us essential information about our recipes (like how to shape florentines), patronizes us, and constantly talks about how great her other class is (we’re the morning pastry class and this chef sub normally teaches the evening pastry class).

And she likes to mislead us about her fast/efficient/spectacular her class is all the time!

For example: today she told us that her class is one day ahead of ours, that her class completed everything they needed to do yesterday (make and bake 6 recipes — it was a doozy of a day), and made our royal icing for cookie decorating.

Turns out the fridge for the evening class was full of gingerbread and shortbread (they didn’t bake 2 of the 6 recipes), and, since we we’ve been out of almond meal for days, they didn’t make the hazelnut lace cookies either (so 6 recipes becomes 5 recipes and 2 are left unrolled and unbaked — how’s that for fast/efficient/spectacular)!

I just don’t understand why she would boast about how much her class gets done compared to us when her class had less to do!

And, for the record, our class really did get all 6 recipes made and baked today.

Also, she actually tried to goad me into saying something stupid/angry/insubordinate when she overheard me talking to my class partner about how some of the dishes left behind by the evening pastry class weren’t properly cleaned — again.

The sub chef said to me, in a tone dripping with sarcasm, “Oh — are things still not cleaned properly? Well, I’m really sorry that things haven’t been cleaned to your standards. I don’t know what to do — I scolded them last night, but I can always scold them again. I’m sorry, though, that things aren’t to your satisfaction.”

Yeah. I’m not sure what she expected me to say to that.

We’ve only been under her instruction for 3 days (there’s 6 more to go), but it’s really starting to wear on all of my classmates.

I mean, I know and accept that I’m the only one responsible for my enthusiasm when it comes to my education, but I feel like this chef sub totally killing any joy I get out of my school day.

There are people in my class who outright hate her and who want to complain, and others who hate her but don’t want to complain lest she make our lives a living hell over the next week and a bit.

We’re only divided on the complaining, though — not the disdain.

Blegh. Anyways, this sort of situation is a fine example of how people who are skilled and dedicated to their craft don’t always make the best teachers.

Of course, having to live out a fine example to others is a serious pain in the ass for us. Unfortunately, there’s just no easy solution to this chef sub problem other than to just hang in there until our original chef instructor returns!

Unless anyone has any other ideas?

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13 thoughts on “Trouble in Pastry School

  1. Mykie says:

    Wondercat totally L.O.V.E.s a good bitchin’! Brava my dear!!! Hears to many more substitute slagging sessions! X

  2. Joanne says:

    I understand the problem, since I had one in nursing school for 6 months, but I kept my cool and my eye on my goal despite her ways. Anyway, the cookies look great and what about those crazy shades! Hang in there in class.

  3. A Tablespoon of Liz says:

    ugh, that sucks! I hate it when there are teachers who probably are really skilled in their craft but just can’t teach it. Do you have someone that’s in charge of the program that you can talk to? I know it’s kind of iffy because then that person will talk to your sub and they might make things worse for you, but it might be worth it? I dunno, lol, that’s a tough one.

    • Christine says:

      I ended up talking to the program director and he said that he’d talk to her, as well as a few other things that made me better understand where she’s coming from — he was surprisingly candid with me (which is waaay different that what I was used to at university, when everyone and all things are kept at arms length and glossed over).

      Hopefully things get better from here!

  4. I love the checkerboard-type cookies with the border. How cool is that? And the instructor from hell? This, too, shall pass — quickly, I hope.

    • Christine says:

      Checkerboard cookies are so cute! Until we made some in class I had actually never had some that tasted good, either (just ones that looked pretty and lacked flavour). I hope this sub problem passes quickly… my program is overwhelming as it is.

  5. daisy says:

    Hang in and show her she can’t break you, or the rest of your class. The more you shine, the more she’ll try to make it harder for you so the worse she is, the better you guys are all doing. Show her you guys are better than her class!

    • Christine says:

      Good advice, Daisy — apparently one of the reasons she’s kind of mean is because my class *is* the better class, but who knows! Starting on Monday, there’s just 5 days to go.

  6. Aw, I’m sorry she’s ruining your time there. Just keep ya head up and look forward to your regular instructor coming back, they’ll be back in no time. All those pastries look amaaazing!

  7. Chin up, lady, you’re doing fantastically…I completely understand what a zap it can be to creativity and your enjoyment when the person managing you is utterly hopeless (just don’t ask me how I understand). Only 5 days to go and then your mojo will come back even stronger than before πŸ™‚

  8. This looks fun! You said it requires a lot of academic reading though, didn’t you? Gosh you must be burnt out from that. Still, though, fun!

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