pastry student, wisdom

Wisdom Cookies

November 20, 2006

Sometime last year during my Introduction to Pastry Techniques class the chef instructed us to make cookies. He gave us his selection and told us to pick several cookie recipes that we would like to attempt. One recipe Diane and I chose were checkerboard cookies. Those who have no idea how the “checkerboard” design is made quite simply it’s a interlayer of chocolate and vanilla shortbread dough.

If you have never made it before – like myself – it can be sort of tricky. So it did not look like the cut and dry checks – it was a bit more askew. Some of the chocolate layers were too thin and others too thick. It was also the same with the vanilla portion. It did not affect the cookies’ taste, but it was not as pretty as it should be. We were not graded on the turnout (unless we set the kitchen or fire or made an half-assed attempt), just as long as we did our best.

After the cookies were baked the school’s head chef walked as he normally does to see how the students are doing. Head Chef looked at our cookies and asked us what kind of cookies they were. I quite sheepishly said: “Checkerboard.” Head Chef looked at the cookies again and asked: “On what planet does checkerboard look like that?”

He was right and I started to make excuses such as “I’ve never made this kind cookies, I rolled them out wrong … etc … etc.”

Head Chef stopped me and said, “Dana, ALWAYS defend your work.”

His words will always stay with me.

What I find strange is that people don’t defend their work as in the contestants of Top Chef. During the Judges Table where the judges pick the best and the worst the contestants find excuses in why the dish did not come out as good as they expected. Some do defend their work, others admit the dish did not turn out as well as to be expected, but for the most part there are excuses. I found that odd most chefs do not follow the credence of my Head Chef …

“Always defend your work”

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1 Comment

  • Reply NerdNoir November 20, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Hmm, I’ve learned the opposite in my writing workshops. I was told not to defend my work, and let others critique it like you’re not in the room.

    Then again, a person shouldn’t make excuses for their work either. I think it’s a matter of choosing your battles.

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