I don’t like endings. Endings mean goodbyes and I’m not good at those.
Recently, as the end of my Patisserie Diploma draws inexorably nearer, I have found myself plagued by a sense of sadness which I cannot shake. Every day brings me closer to the conclusion of the course and the best nine months of my life so far; as cliched as it sounds, it’s the only way I can truthfully describe it. Since the beginning of the year, I have learned more about patisserie than I ever expected, developed skills I didn’t know I had, done things I never imagined possible, made wonderful, life-long friends and been encouraged, supported and inspired on a near-daily basis by the incredible teaching chefs of Le Cordon Bleu London.
Yesterday was our final practical examination, a four-hour assessment in which we had to produce one large entremet and two small identically-plated desserts, complete with tuile and tempered chocolate decorations, chocolate piping and a classic creme anglaise, the latter two being for the plated items. Fortunately, I had no major disasters and with the exception of one or two little mistakes, managed to produce something presentable that I was relatively happy with. (In typical fashion, I feel that my attempts during last week’s practice session were better, but that’s always the case, annoyingly…!)
Had someone told me nine months ago what I would be doing for my final, I would have laughed in disbelief. Now that I’ve actually done it, it feels like nothing more than the natural conclusion of the culinary journey I’ve been on, the culmination of everything I’ve learned and done this year.
It’s only now, looking back on my time at the school, that I can truly see how far I’ve come since January. When I started, I was quiet, timid, always doubting myself and my work, looking to the chefs to show me the way and to tell me that I was doing okay before I believed it myself. Now, even just over the last few weeks, I’ve learned to have more confidence and to trust in my abilities and knowledge. I know what I am capable of and I don’t second-guess myself or seek praise and approval any more. This self-belief is one of the most important things I’ve gained from the diploma; I don’t feel like an imposter any more, an amateur pretending as I tiptoe around the kitchen, waiting for someone to say “Wait, what are you doing here?”. I actually feel, finally, that I might be capable of pursuing a career in the field that I am so passionate about. That’s what this course, and my teachers, have given me: understanding, skills and confidence. For that, I will always be grateful.
We have our final tutorial later this week, the one in which we will receive the results of all the examinations we’ve taken this term. (Of course, I’ll hope for a Mention, but just to pass would be an accomplishment in itself and one I will happily accept. It’s extremely rare that the chefs award Mention/Mention Bien for Patisserie, simply because the marking criteria are so strict and the standards so high, it’s nearly impossible to achieve.) It will be the last time I’ll enter the school as a Patisserie Diploma student, the last time I’ll walk its familiar corridors and spend time in the building that has become like a second home to me. It will be a day of goodbyes, hopefully of celebration too; joy and sadness mingled together as our patisserie journey finally ends after nine glorious months.
I still can’t believe it’s over. I’m not ready for the end, not ready yet to leave the school that I love so dearly. I’ve had the time of my life, worked hard, met some amazing people and had a lot of fun. I’m going to miss it more than I can say, both the good times and the bad. Why does it have to be over so soon?
Of course, the one positive thing about endings is that they make way for new beginnings…