Recently, I was forced to resign from a cupcake bakery in my hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. I went from a cashier at night to the head baker in about a seventh month period. It sounds exciting, right? Wrong. This was my second real bakery job and my first one as a culinary school graduate. This job had its ups and downs. I threatened to leave twice, got fired once, and then forced to resign. This is how it all began.
Growing up, I was the granddaughter of a locally famous restauranteur of an Italian restaurant. At two-years-old, I declared I was going to be a pastry chef. It was destiny. My father was an American who loved to cook. My mother came from a long line of Sicilians who cooked all of the time. For years I was bullied for being that weird girl who loved to cook and who was good at it. At 18, I was accepted into the top two culinary schools in the nation and a local school that was ten minutes from my house. Culinary school was the hardest thing I had ever done. Every day I came home with a new cut, burn, or horror story about the Head Chef. I graduated culinary school cum laude and a 3.7 GPA (a major improvement since high school). My mom told me to get a job in my field or go back to school. The next week I had a job.
I worked under a girl who did not like me and treated me like I did not have an education. She told me once a paring knife was a cake knife. She got fired and a new night manager from another store came in. She promised that no one would be fired (which was a lie). She did not like me and I did not like her. She told me that I was a horrible baker, saying “the greatest chefs are messy chefs,” and I had no idea what I was doing (again, a lie). I stood up for myself and she told me to leave. The morning manager rehired me as the head baker. I would produce 800-1000 cupcakes in four hours without any mistakes. One month later, some business decisions were made and the night manager told me she did not like me and did not want me to stay, but gave me the option to stay. I told her to kiss my ass. I did not look back.
I told myself that this was a sign that I needed to get out of the business for good. The fact that we had a full moon and torrential rain that day basically gave me a sign. For 20 years I said I was going to be a chef. However, my manager told me that sometimes life does not always work out that way. I have a gift with baking. I have no idea what I will do with the rest of my life. It could be cosmetology, radiology, or fitness. Either way, I achieved my dream at 20 and part of life is realizing that your dream may not be your reality.