Friday, August 19, 2011

a retrospective

s'mores cake
Layers of chocolate cake, marshmallow filling, chocolate fudge and graham crumb, all covered in toasted marshmallow frosting and a chocolate glaze. Yessiree. You remember this cake, right? I baked this cake for a wonderful friend and former coworker who wanted something special for her wife's birthday.

there is a season
I put my notice in at Gramercy Tavern this past week. I have worked there for a year and a half now, which is a long time for me. Since it was my first official pastry job, I've decided to share a few things that I've learned from my time in a restaurant kitchen.

You better have an end game. Working in a professional restaurant kitchen is nothing like baking at home. It's dirty, back-breaking work in a harsh environment with crazy hours, pitiful pay, and, in most situations, no benefits. Know what you want before you get into the business and try to reach your goal as quickly as possible. So here's my end game. I want an ice cream truck or shop down at the Jersey Shore. To get to that goal, I needed to work in a kitchen where I would have a chance to make large batches of ice cream every day. I have accomplished that goal and I am ready to move on. In the meantime, I will be doing some freelance graphic design work in order to fund my future ice cream business. Get ready everyone.


Gordon Ramsay sucks. Why is screaming and cursing at employees acceptable in a kitchen but not acceptable in any other form of work? Screaming at an employee does not make them work better or faster. Gordon Ramsay and a good majority of restaurant chefs out there are perpetrating the kind of behavior that does not belong in the modern day kitchen. I never in my five years as a graphic designer had anyone scream and swear at me when I made a mistake. Yet you would not believe the shocking stories I've heard from kitchen coworkers. Lobsters or utensils being hurled at their heads. Violent verbal abuse anytime they messed up. This has got to stop. Very few people can do something perfectly on the first try. Most people have a learning curve and I am grateful that my boss at Gramercy Tavern, Nancy Olson, understood this. No screaming, no throwing things. Just excellent instruction with firm and patient correction when needed.

Local. Seasonal. I never understood what a real strawberry looked or tasted like until I worked at Gramercy Tavern. They get their fruit from local farms that come to the Greenmarket in Union Square. The strawberries they use are less than half the size of the Driscoll behemoths I grew up with and most folks buy at the grocery store. These tiny beauties taste sweet, slightly tart and not in the least watery. I'm not trying to be snobbish or elitist about this. Strawberries grown locally and picked in season just taste better. My goal, whenever possible, is to buy from local farms and eat only what's in season.


  1. I'm so happy and proud of you Emma! You will be missed more than you know!! Don't forget about us small town kitchen folk :( GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Keep us posted on this Jersey Shore Ice Cream 2013, I'll def line up to try some.

  3. Thank you Cassie! I will miss all my pastry ladies!

    Absolutely, Nicole! Will keep everyone posted!


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