Pastry Boot Camp Wrap-Up

September 21, 2008

Pastry Boot Camp is over and sugar free pudding with fat free whipped topping will never be the same again!  I’m happy to report that I don’t feel that I need to buy all kinds of things for the kitchen.  There are a few things I’d like to get, like larger metal mixing bowls, but nothing major.  I hear that Viking’s mixer is far superior to KitchenAid, but I can wait until I’m in need of a new mixer.

So what kind of people sign up for something like this?  Most in my class came alone – there were two pairs and the rest were singles.  A little less than half of the people in the class were in food-related jobs, including people who worked in restaurants, personal chefs, and even a couple of food scientists.  For some of them, this was a work assignment and their employers paid for the trip. How cool would that be?!  The rest didn’t have food-related jobs and most didn’t plan to change careers – this was just a fun educational vacation.  Several people had been to other Boot Camps and had good things to say about their past experiences.

The group spent a lot of time together in and out of the kitchen this week. There is always a mix and clash of personalities in a group, but I think we did a good job of getting along (although they might all be talking about how annoying I was!).  You work in pairs, so if you’re alone, you need to pick a partner.  I was lucky because I had a really nice partner.  We had lots of laughs and worked well together.  I’m not active in any hobbies, so being with a group of people who shared the same enthusiasm for food, baking, and the Food Network was great.  Now the big test…can I do this successfully at home?

A few tips for anyone planning to go to a Boot Camp:

  • Read everything the CIA sends you and everything you can find online.  There was a lot of information in the “About Your Stay” brochure, but it not everyone was familiar with it.
  • That said, they didn’t enforce all of the rules that were in the above brochure. Most of us bought kitchen shoes, but some people wore tennis shoes and nothing was said to them. Same with dress codes for the restaurants – the brochure says business casual, but they didn’t enforce the code if someone arrived wearing jeans.  I think you’ll be more comfortable and present the right image if you follow the rules.
  • Rent a car and stay somewhere as close as possible.  You’ll get a 2.5-3.5 hour break before dinner and you’re going to want to  shower, change, and decompress before a long, social dinner.
  • If you want to do any sightseeing in the area, stay an extra day.  There’s just not enough time to do much during the Boot Camp.
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One comment

  1. Jill, I really enjoyed reading about your boot camp! We had a different chef (and a different chef for the chocolate class), but my experience was remarkably similar. I wish I had waited to go until now, when I have a lot more baking experience, but it was so much fun. Our group was smaller, and I was by myself (odd number of people and I was stupid enough to volunteer to work alone). I also rented a car and stayed at a hotel nearby, and it was definitely the way to go.

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