Baking student Jaime Gravinni had some bad luck. His learning abilities and comprehension were made worse by a recent car accident. His luck changed when he met Mai Nguyen and Chase Rodgers. Mai’s determination and detail-orientation made it possible for her to take notes and translate them for Jaime. Chase recently served as a rifle coach in the Marines - making sure soldiers knew how to shoot their pistols and their standard issue rifles. This became a straight-shooting team. “It’s all about confidence, Jaime,” I heard Chase say over and over as they broke eggs, cooked their Pate a Choux together on the stovetop or wrestled the lumps out of lemon curd. I knew that Jaime could count on Mai and Chase because of their steadiness, strength of character and generosity. I was proud to teach this team, but much prouder to observe the humbling selflessness and leadership that make the world a better place. If you discover Mai or Chase in a restaurant some day, your luck will change for the better. If you run into Jaime, he can make you a batch of cinnamon rolls, no problem.
Most students struggle with making their first cake - that pesky buttercream, the crumbs, the patience required to cool it between coats then the rush to decorate it in time to hit their presentation window. Several of my recent baking students embraced this challenge and loved cake week in Baking 150. When Chef Salazar and I signed up to teach the cake-decorating class of the Master Chef Series, we knew we’d need help so we called in the culinary bakers and her patisserie students. 32 cakes later, our students had assisted with mis en place, production, cake transportation, coordinating non-professional students, helping them slice assemble their cakes and competing in a Mystery Box Cake Competition. Ah, youth.