For years, people encouraged me to become a pastry chef. I don't know if they were serious, or if it was just a way to make conversation, but my response was always the same:
Its just a hobby!
Despite the stories and photographic evidence that I was curious about baking from an early age (yes, this is a picture of me as a baby, sitting on the counter, 'helping' my dad make poppyseed muffins) I was sure that it wasn't the job for me. Just before my first birthday, my parents asked me what I wanted to eat for my birthday party. Little one-year-old Maddie responded "Pasta Pesto!" -- which to me more heavily signified my aptitude for language than a love for food.
I was destined for greater things, I thought. I was on the academic fast-track towards scholarly magnificence. I was not going to forgo my safe, sure route to success.
Sometimes Life has Plans of its Own
Finally I escaped the snowy prison of my youth (aka Minnesota) and went to Japan for my first study abroad. And I fell in love. I had been prepared to keep living the way I had--nose in my books, scholarly pursuits constantly at the forefront of my focus--but within a few short weeks I realized that wasn't the life I wanted anymore. I had been prepared to enjoy my Japanese classes and English tutoring sessions, but what I loved even more than that was when I could share a moment with a friend over a bowl of ramen, or hand-pounded mochi in a UNESCO World Heritage Village, or explore the cafes of Tokyo.
The closet-sized, oven-less kitchen of my Japanese host mother made me cringe as I daydreamed about my kitchen back home. All I wanted to do was create something--create beautiful sweets to share and enjoy with all of the wonderful people I had met. Four tortuous months of no baking later, I returned home and all but locked myself in my kitchen even as I returned to my studies. My Japanese club came to expect one or three different desserts at every meeting as I struggled to decide whether it was really important enough for me to pursue as a career.
Do Nothing Halfway
Filled with the youthful urgency to live a life with no regrets, I decided to see through my undergrad degree (even if I was going to just disregard it) and then switch my focus to the culinary world. Interested in a program that would allow me to discover whether or not I want to fully devote the next few years or possibly the rest of my life to pastry, I chose to attend Gastronomicom, a small culinary academy in the south of France, to complete a three month pastry and French language program before going off to complete a four month pastry internship.
Even a month into my internship, there were days when half way through the rush of service I would pause, look around me, and wonder to myself why the hell I had chosen this life. The hours are insane. The people crazy. The pressure enormous. The results often fleeting.
But even with every reason in the world to give up and go back to my safe, academic path, there was one ultimate reason that kept me invested. I had never been happier. To day after day take part in the creation of something that imparts such pleasure onto another person is the ultimate satisfaction.
Never Stop Dreaming
Pulling on my past experiences, be they world travels, chance encounters, family support or passions outside of the kitchen, I endeavor to create pastries that touch the hearts and minds of those I can share them with.
Even if I am absorbed by the world of pastry, I have no intention of letting it completely isolate me from other things I am passionate about. I love photography. I love sketching. Writing. Language.
I plan to never stop traveling, to never stop learning, and never stop dreaming.
Right now I may be in the fledgling stages of my career (or the first of many careers). But I think it is safe to say that following my journey will keep you entertained at the very least. After a couple of years expanding and practicing my pastry skills in a pastry shop in Minnesota, I have moved on to Seoul. I am hoping that this new city will help me further my personal and professional goals and provide new and exciting ways to combine more of my passions into one journey!
Let's Do This Together
Interested in working together? Want to bake, create, travel, write or learn with me? Feel like we would be best friends and want to discuss that further over several pots of tea?
Thank you to everyone who has been an important part of my journey so far, and I look forward to all the people I will encounter next.