Most People Escape to Mexico

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Normally, at 10 in the morning, I would already have been at work for three, maybe four hours. This way I can get most of my to-do list accomplished without being bothered by co-workers whom I love but often impress more work upon me once our morning hellos are finished. Today, however, instead of being knee deep in staff files or the supply orders I need to keep the nonprofit that employs me up and running, my hands are busy trying to apply a feather touch to what must be the world’s heaviest rolling pin in order to prevent tonight’s supply of flatbread from being rolled crepe-paper thin.
 
Recently, I decided to take five weeks away from work to pursue a small dream of doing an externship at a four-star pastry department. My first choice of restaurant, Grange, and its pastry chef, Elaine Baker, were kind enough to take me on. It’s been interesting to say the least. I’m a special case as all previous externs have been from cooking schools. I’m wrapping up a master’s degree in English comp. at Sac State and have worked as a freelance and staff food writer, recipe developer, and food blogger for the past few years (all of that being accomplished on my nights and weekends). All my baking skills are self-taught.
 
I have no aspirations of being a caterer or pastry chef. This endeavor is simply a hands-on education for me. An experience that I hope will make me a more authoritative writer and craft my hands into experienced baker’s hands. Whereas most people escape to Mexico, I’m taking five weeks of vacation time to stand and work eight hours a day to make 400 mini fig muffins. I’m also happy that I’ll have the chance to chronicle just what it’s like in pastry, the lost and often forgotten tribe of the professional kitchen, here at “Eat & Drink.” So far it’s four days in and there is a lot to tell you, so stay tuned.
 
Garrett McCord is a freelance and staff food writer. You can read his work in Edible Sacramento, Sacramento News and Review, and his blog, Vanilla Garlic.