Sunday, October 11, 2015

Week Four at Ballymaloe Cookery School

Marzipan Stuffed Dates in Kitchen 3 at Ballymaloe Cookery School.
Things are getting real as week four has been completed at Ballymaloe Cookery School because I've scheduled myself a sit down with Darina Allen in hopes of contemplating my future in the food biz and a couple resumes are in potential employers' inboxes. One resume to Travail Kitchen & Amusements, a fine dining restaurant in Robbinsdale, MN doing a unique chef tasting menu, small plates and seriously whacky behavior during service including drinking beer from a boot. Another resume to Scripps Network in Chicago, the mother network to Food Network, for a peon sales position job. The prior submission has me refreshing my inbox with fleeting hope they've emailed me a return message. Alas, trying to stay present and not worry too much about the future, knowing it will all work out, but I'm only human and I need to worry a little bit or what else would I worry about? In two weeks we'll be tested on our knowledge thus far, so I guess I could worry about an exam about identifying twenty types of lettuces and herbs. A more productive worry.
Ballymaloe House entrance.
Midweek we were fortunate to have Darina Allen's sister, Blathnaid Bergin, who is in the business critiquing restaurant processes, speak about opening a cafe and the research involved around planning a menu (really overwhelming, but exhilarating and super informative), but I found it supremely difficult not to be European or more specifically, Irish that day. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love Ireland and the school is nothing but fantastic. I'm learning so much and really becoming a bonafide chef. Every euro has has been a euro well spent. I am glad to be here, but I am only me and I have found communicating a bit of a challenge. Let's say…I'm learning.
Ballycotton Cliff Walk.
Ballycotton Lighthouse.
Blackberry picking the hedgerows on the Ballycotton Cliff Walk.
Running along the Ballycotton Cliff Walk.
Almost every Irish person I have met thus far is hysterically funny. The vocabulary used always feels uber intelligent and every sentence a play on words, sounding extremely smart at every conversational turn. It's really a phenomena. So, enter boring American me and I sound flat, contrite, and so lame I don't ever want to peep up in front of class. And that was exactly what today was: A 64 person group session of breaking down how to be successful in the food industry. I had things I wanted to say, but I couldn't say them in an Irish way, so I sucked. I sucked so bad. And I'm sad. And I'm lonely. All I could do was keep my eyes bright and shake my head in agreement to most of what the speaker had to say, because she was utterly brilliant. And really, she held me captivated for eight hours in the demo room chairs that are becoming known among the students as Instruments of Torture, so she was really pretty great. 

We then broke into small groups and were to imagine our cafe. Blathnaid gave us parameters for opening our cafe, location, space details, community needs, when people want to dine, etc. And we were to talk about the ethos, decor, and mainly our menu. I had so much I wanted to put into our cafe, but at the end, it was nothing, NOTHING, like I would've like my cafe to be like. Shit, I never knew I was so horribly terrible at contriburing to a group. Is it my strong peronsality? My serious passion for food? My strong willed, first child, mama hen, wanna rule the roost personality that makes people listen for, like, 3 seconds, disqualify my words, and then turn the conversation to someone who wants to make it boring and blah and have no funk? And, enter the lie in my head idea that I wouldn't be fit to work for someone else, I may need to be the boss from here on out because I truly march to the beat of my own drum and scorn all others who don't hear my beat. But, what's wrong with that... Loneliness? Isolation? Fear? Yes, all of those things, so I need to play nice. Open my heart. My ears. My mind. Be a kind person. Isn't that what we all should be? No matter what nationality, cultural background, shit we carry around? A kind person? We don't know what stuff people are carrying around. So, really. Can't we be kind?
Hotel Isaac courtyard in Cork City, Ireland.
Cake competition at school — I won a cookbook for presenting this cake! 

And there, I've spewed my rage/vent into the blogosphere. I'm feeling better since I wrote the frustration in the middle of this post because Saturday the family bebopped around Cork all day then last night I joined a group from school at the Blackbird until the wee hours of the morning, and that felt like I actually have a life outside of being a mom, wife, and student. Today, I had a really great yoga class with a friend from school, lunch, and a little shopping. Now, we are headed as a family to watch Ireland play rugby against France — a major match. It's amazing what a weekend can do for a weary soul. Until later. XO. Becki

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I'd love to hear all about your kitchen adventures! Xo, Becki