The school requires all students to participate in our of class activities ranging from stages at restaurants, volunteering for culinary events or helping out with recreational events among other things. For my first activity, I volunteered to help out with a recreational class on the pastry side on Pies and Tarts. I thought it would be a great review following my class on Pâte Brisée, but as luck would have it, class was cancelled and it ended up being an intro to a rescheduled class.
I’m particularly interested in helping out with recreational classes because after school, I would like to go into teaching myself. I enjoy teaching others and classes are part of a grand vision I have about educating people about food, helping them eat healthier and making a positive impact on society.
I arrived at the school an hour before class and met Chef Elise. She was incredibly welcoming and introduced me to the other two assistants for the day. She had arrived earlier than us and had already started putting things out for the students. We immediately began working to help her out.
Setup was straight forward. I helped measure out some ingredients for pâte sucrée using a baker’s scale. Plus one for new experiences!
With everything measured, I got to watch over the big stand mixer and bring the pâte sucrêe together.
The class was held in the pastry kitchen which is not a kitchen I spend time in. I required a little extra time in terms of finding items I needed. I set out some flour for rolling the dough, aprons and side towels for the students.
The lecture was a brief overview for the students of the dough and the recipes. Chef Elise provided an amazing overview on how to work with the dough, add water and check for doneness all by hand. Each student was allowed to select which recipe they wanted to do. It was briefer that the lectures we normally get in class, but that is understandable. We aren’t going into food history and science here. These people are here for technique and a challenge and to make friends among other things.
As I’ve mentioned before, a new kitchen can be tough. It’s harder when you’re being asked questions about where to find tools and not familiar with it. I enjoyed helping everyone that asked with where to find tools, the best way to measure something out, assistance with the ovens and more. Time went by quickly as I moved from one area to the next helping out. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but part of teaching is getting questions you didn’t expect.
After class was over I had the opportunity to talk with Chef Elise about the class, the techniques covered and teaching. I asked for her perspective on learning, where to get experience and how she decided to go into teaching. She was very open with her learning process, where she’s worked and suggestions for getting the experience I needed.
- Mistakes happen. Students will measure dry ingredients with wet measures and wet ingredients with dry measures.
- I really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere of class. Everyone was there to learn and have fun.
- Some students definitely have the idea of attending school in the professional programs and really enjoy to talking with assistants.
- It was tricky to stand over students or around them and not have them feel like they were being judged.
- Skill levels vary. Teaching hands on involves adapting to the student skill level.
- I’m super happy I got to help out in this class. It was an easier than expected introduction into teaching.