Curve in the road

September 29th, 2008, by Francesca

The last term at school gave me some time to reflect on what I've learned, what I want to learn, and how this culinary program fits me. You may be surprised to hear that this morning I handed in my letter of withdrawal from school. In retrospect, I think I took an academic term to give myself the time to think without the stress of a regular cooking term. Even though I was taking three classes, academics are a lot less demanding physically and psychologically.

Various reasons combined to convince me that continuing with this program would not be in my best interest. For one thing, the cost is excessive for someone who is not pursuing a restaurant career, and recent changes in the way the program is structured and managed have made the money/value ratio even less appealing to me. Classes are getting more and more crowded and even the best chefs cannot undo the damage caused by management. It's really a shame, because I loved my chefs and learned a lot from them, but how much can you get out of a class with more than 30 students competing for stove space and equipment or an academic class with 40+ students, half of which are either talking or eating or texting or taking and making phone calls?

The other big issue, and probably the most compelling, is that I have become interested in baking – and more specifically bread baking – and there is none of that left in the rest of the culinary program. I considered switching to the baking program, but only a small part of that is dedicated to bread; most of it is about cakes, pastries, chocolates, plated desserts and so on. In the end, if I really want to learn more about making bread, I'll have to do that somewhere else.

As a start, I signed up for a few workshops at the San Francisco Baking Institute and will be taking my first 5-day class in December. In the meantime, I'll practice as much as I can to make the most of my short stays up north.

8 Responses to “Curve in the road”

  1. Rachel Says:
    Hmmm,,,, bread,,, If there is one thing I really miss here (culinary wise) it is good bread! Good luck with your new direction and does it mean you will be knitting again now that you are out of school? :)
  2. Maud Says:
    You're brave Francesca! It take quite a lot to switch career, and then to take off in a new direction within that choice... Everybody wouldn't reflect enough over what they really want to do. I wish you all the best with you baking adventure!
  3. carlene Says:
    I agree with Maud up there. I think the "restructuring" might have cemented my decision, too. Anyway, baking! How great is that! I am the "cook" of the family, my sister is the "baker"; I should share your blog link with her.
  4. Sylvia Says:
    My dad's latest sourdough sandwich bread is amazing -- when you come up I'll beg a loaf from him for you. He's quite the experimental baker.
  5. Theresa Says:
    Sorry to hear that things did not work out as you expected.
  6. Laura Says:
    But isn't this what life is about? Making decisions, and then re-making them in the course of things? So you got what you needed from that particular culinary school and you'll get more of what you want as you pick up specific classes. Kudos to you for recognizing the shift in your priorities before wasting money, but more importantly time. Bread baking in San Francisco? Please tell me that Sourdough is part of the course - lol!
  7. May Says:
    What a time of change for you. It's always good to evaluate and make sure you are on the road that's right for you. I was thinking just the other day as I'm adjusting to school myself, that I needed to make sure that I'm working, and learning and reflecting on my progress to make sure that I keep on the right track of what's right for me. I think it's part of maturing in life to know when and the importance of course corrections in life :) I'm glad you are keeping yourself to finding what you want out of life. And btw, LOVE bread. and you might get a kick out of this book: Bread of Three Rivers: The Story of a French Loaf. I enjoyed reading it.
  8. Lydia Says:
    Good for you, Francesca! I'm sure it was a hard choice. And yay for baking! In the past couple of years I have become more interested in it, and would love to really understand it better someday. Does this mean you'll have some time for knitting???

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