This post is super long, I started and still not completed, but I am posting it or it continues to sit unpublished. Then I will enjoy my weekend first …
About 20 weeks and 748 hours later … On 21 November 2008 I graduated with a Gold Award Diploma in Sous Chef de Patisserie. (It was also my Mum’s 62th Birthday over in Singapore on 22 November, Singapore being 14 hours ahead of US Central Time, Daylight Saving.) Six of us were also awarded with The Steven K. Schultz Awards in recognition for Perfect Attendance.
Perfect Attendance. As far as it is within my control, I will continue to maintain the base expectation of being early and being present. As far as attendance goes, I had perfect attendance during my schooling years … it must have been my Mum, no missing of classes and there was no question about it, I was brought up to understand it should be so. I drifted quite a bit during university years but I am glad it was just a short 3 years.
Attitude. I enjoy the art of learning, the art of enjoying the present moments, and the works of nurture and inspirations. I remained steadfast in my goal to learn and grow as an individual as well as to inspire growth in people around me. I believe strongly in staying focused on positive perspectives, for things happened for great reasons in life. As far as I am concerned, I hold strongly my respect for authority and my peers. I got better over the years – I learnt to question, I learnt to accept some decisions, I learnt to let go of my own opinions when they were not crucial or another suggestion made better sense, I learnt to give in when it meant making the other person happier without compromising the end results … I continue to be curious and enjoy learning from the individuals around me.
Savour. I am blessed to be here in Houston, even though I was leaving apart from my husband and my family for the past 20 weeks. It is a gift I treasure a lot. BK made it possible – he agreed to let me come, and encouraged me to pursue my dream. It is almost unreal. Truth be said – I enjoyed and valued my environment, the people I have come to know, and the lessons I learnt beyond the recipes. Very few things or people bothered me, I accepted what happened, I learnt to take in, chew on it and some I let go, the great ones I held them close to my heart.
Friendship. I made good friends in Houston – At the culinary institute, some Singaporeans I got to know in Houston, and from Houston Dessert Meetup Group. To all I have come to know in Houston, I am thankful I got to know you in this part of the world and for some, I believe we will remain friends regardless of where we move on to. I also accept that some are passer-bys in my life, nevertheless, they contributed to my life journey and played a role while I am here in Houston, and formed my memories. I am also happy to meet Vivian and Lilian (thanks for hooking us up!) in Houston, have not met both for nearly 2 decades in Singapore. For all my friends, as the saying goes 有缘千里来相会, 无缘见面也不知… if we are predestined to meet, we would travel great distance to meet and know each other, otherwise even when we meet face to face we would also not be acquainted. How meaningful!
Graduation signifies the beginning of a new journey for me. It is only a beginning. I will continue with the same attitude I brought to Houston. Dream. Believe. Love. Inspire.
My Graduation Day ~ 21 November 2008, Central Time
The table display had my wedding cake, pastillage, sugar art, choc icing mousse cake, and choc box.
MY TRIBUTES TO IMPORTANT INDIVIDUALS
22 Nov 2008, PM
I just had a chat with my dad via skype earlier, he congratulated me on my graduation. I told him I am going to finally post a picture of Chef Philippe on my journal entry, and he can get Pei San – my sis-in-law, to print out for him to see how my Chef looks like. I told him Chef just gave his permission to publish his pix on my blog on my graduation day, my Dad laughed. Weeks earlier when I just moved into level 2 Baking & Pastry Arts class, during my weekly skypeout update with Dad, I told him I was “warned” by Chef Philippe not to post his picture on my blog or “you will get points deducted from your grades” … Then it was the evening of the Gala, 5 Sept 2008, I was to complete level 1 the following week and move to Chef Philippe’s Level 2 class. For every week after that, Dad always asked how I was doing in Chef Philippe’s class and how was Chef that week. Ha.
Seriously, I didn’t think Chef Philippe was serious, but I did not post any. 😉
I enjoyed and learnt a lot from Chef Philippe’s class … I enjoy specific, exact, precise, detailed (do they all mean the same? hee …) methods of instruction… Chef was also watchful and observant to how we performed, and quick to be at our sides to rescue us, even though he expressed it differently in words. In his class, I learnt to understand the hows and appreciate why I did them the way they were. … I became more confident in choc and enjoyed choc (specifically mentioned choc coz my feel for it significantly changed and it got cleaner each time) … yes, all the cooking that required specific temperatures (eg vanilla sauce, choc icing), I managed so much better. Like he said, we have a choice. I chose to enjoy his sessions and appreciate him as an individual as well as my Chef.
Every morning for the past weeks, Chef and Sandra drove me to the culinary institute, and back to my apartment on Wednesday and Friday afternoons. We live across the White Oak Bayou across each other ~ so they are my neighbours… Pai seh (Chinese dialect, loosely translated ~ shy) … but I am really grateful for their thoughtfulness!
Through Chef Philippe, I got introduced to my first French teacher and gotta know another friend in Houston. Merci beaucoup, Chef!
Also My Chef. Chef Sebastien is my Level 1 Chef. Never had a pix taken with him during my level 1 final as the finals ended abruptly on Day 2 instead of the usual 3 days, due to Ike. There was no proper closure then.
Chef Sebastien integrated me (I speak for myself…) well into the introduction course at the culinary institute and got me to love and enjoy what I do and learn, and I got to make mistakes and learn from them… along the way, I laughed a lot and remained blur blur.
I remembered Chef Sebastien didn’t like sweet stuff and he is a Pastry Chef, I didn’t like sweet stuff too so I got some reassurance. Nearing the end of my Level 1, he asked how many of the recipes I liked for the hundreds we had completed, … 4? OK, now maybe more as my taste buds are changing … he was “appalled” I only liked the taste of 4 recipes after all he had taught. Ha. I really enjoyed the taste of 4, but I could appreciate and memorize the tastes of the others.
Chef Sebastien gave me the reassurance and the calmness I needed that all is well, and would be well. No words needed.
President cum Owner. I was researching online on culinary programs, read about LeNotre, then about Mr Alain LeNotre and his school in Houston, decided to enrol into CIAML, and was introduced to him during the school tour on my day 2 in Houston. BK commented he spoke with a lot of passion, assertiveness and sincerity when we met.
A week into the course, we had an orientation session with Mr LeNotre. His advice was very practical and direct – he said matter of factly the Chefs in school are good and experienced Chefs, we should learn from them and find out about them and their motivations as much as possible and to do it now…, coz he accepted that they will not stay with the school forever.
About 5 weeks into my course, I blasted my blog address to my friends back home in Singapore and some parts of the world, Jean-Luc found out and soon I got called to Mr LeNotre’s office. He rounded up our conversation with “Joy, my door is always open“. I appreciate that he spoke with me, advised me and treated me like I am – a mature student. I enjoyed his straight forward advice, and he was generous in sharing them. Through his recommendation, I completed Leadership Lessons from A Chef. Finding Time to Be Great by Chef Charles Carroll by week 5 of my course, and got started on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (a title I knew more than 10 years ago but never got down to reading it … I started and this time I can appreciate what was written). He had said Joy, you should read this, and I did.
You should roll down your sleeves … Didn’t your chef ask you to roll down your sleeves? … He showed genuine concern when he noticed I had burnt marks and bruises on my arms … or maybe he was disgusted. Ha, I couldn’t help it sometimes I was really blur.
Joy, you are too proper … during a chat we had on being upfront with my personal goals when working for establishments back home. I remained so, indeed. Still very proper.
Chef’s Topic on Misen Place, 7 July. 3 days into my course. On preparedness of the mind, on preparedness to start the day. To be on time means to be early.
Chef’s Club, 23 July. 2 weeks into my course, the first I volunteered. I still remembered the purple cabbage in reduced red wine sauce, the forced meat and the garlic incident. We had fun prepping, learning, and … taking lots of notes.
Lessons on ServSafe, 4 & 6 August. 4 weeks into my course. I dreaded sitting still, but my ears were up each time Chef shared his experience, and loads of them. Even in the most awful working environment, I can learn good lessons of what nots and what I should do when I am in control. More notes taking. But his sharing also put me off eating certain food :~
In Pastry Lab Level 1, 27 & 28 August. After feeling a little disoriented for day 1 due to cups and spoons, I enjoyed Chef Kris’s sessions and his cool and practical ways he confronted each situation. He taught us to think recipes branching from a basic recipe, to be adaptable, to move it move it …
To the Chefs’ Office, 16 October. A couple of days earlier, Chef asked if I have been updating my blog entry … it appeared it had been some time since I interacted with Chef Kris, but I realised it was due to Ike as school was disrupted for 2 weeks, and it was 2 weeks since lessons started proper. Chef soon read my blog updates and I was called to see him regarding my career plan. I still have not read the 3 books he advised me to. I graduated but I will be seeing him on Monday for a discussion and complete my ServSafe certification. I am committed to doing it, because he bothered to.
BK has been constantly there for me … when I first came to Houston and totally disoriented – he made sure I got better in my directions; Then nearly everyday after, we updated each other how our day went virtually; He was here so that we could celebrate his birthday and spend time together; Then my Graduation week, again he was here even though we were both pre-occupied, he was busy with work and I with Finals… and on my Graduation day, he was there for me every moment I needed him. He made it so matter of fact, so unconditional… I am really blessed, really really.
He told me just a couple of days ago after he left Houston – he was speaking with someone about me being in Houston and he in Singapore – he wanted me to enjoy what I do, he knew for sure I am focus and I would be heading home to Singapore once I am done… for me, there is no doubt about it. Like Sarah said about Charles, the same for BK, I would not give him up for the world. Period. Ha.
More about my pals later, I should stop somewhere and enjoy today.