How a head pastry chef got through the shutdown
Hospitality finds out what industry professionals have been doing to stay motivated and upbeat during an otherwise trying time. Even as restrictions begin to lift, things will remain different for many hospitality workers; maintaining connections with peers and skills is important, but so is cutting yourself some slack.
Here, Melanie Day, head pastry chef at Sofitel Gold Coast, shares her experience. Read what Mitch Orr got up to in part one of our Hospo at Home series.
What have you been doing to stay motivated during shutdown?
Being motivated hasn’t really been the issue — it’s more so planning and preparing to make sure I actually complete all the jobs at home I’ve pushed aside for so long. I write myself a daily task list (same as I would in the kitchen) to get things done, such as sorting out all my recipes that are scribbled onto pieces of paper and writing them into my index books. I’ve sorted through and loaded almost 10,000 dessert photos onto my computer. These are things I rarely get the time to sit down and work on.
How has going through recipe books helped? Any other resources that have been useful?
Going through recipes has been so good for me. Not only have I found some of my favourite recipes that I thought I lost, but it’s nice to sit back and see how far I’ve come in this industry — something I don’t usually take time to reflect on. A lot of my recipe resources are from chefs and pastry chefs I’ve worked with over the years or recipes I’ve developed myself. I subscribe to Savour School for online classes and to learn new skills. Kirsten Tibballs and her professional team are the best.
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Layers of @heilalavanilla Bean buttercream, cocoa, almond, salted caramel and coconut. @92tmf – Birthday Cake! #madewithkitchenaid #cakestagram# #pastryart #pastrychef #australianpastrychef #culinarytalents #patisserie #goodfoodgallery #instachef #pastrychefpage #pastry_certified #BarryYummyDesserts #chefstagram #pastrylove #birthdaycake #handmade #sweettooth #cake_trends
What are your thoughts on staying ‘productive’ versus taking a break from the kitchen?
Obviously, you want to continue working to get ahead, but looking at online courses, nothing really struck me as information that would ‘add value’ to my career. A lot of chefs have jumped online and social platforms have been flooded because everyone at home was cooking. As someone who has posted regularly on social media platforms for quite a few years now, it was just too much. I needed a bit of a break from the overload of cooking videos. I did a few basics from home, but it soon became apparent that everyone was doing the same — hot cross buns, cinnamon scrolls, choc chip cookies, banana cake, etcetera. I decided I would just use the time to take a break from the kitchen and work on myself and my health — baking sweet things at home all day is not good for my health.
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✨Chewy Choc chip cookies✨ – Didn’t break even, but that distribution of choc chips through the cookie….. *insert whistle here …👌🏼😏😂jks As long as they are fresh, warm and chewy.. 🙋🏼♀️🦄 yes please.. – Comment below if you would like this basic recipe.. – #dessertporn #pastryart #coffee #tasty #pastrychef #recipeshare #australianpastrychef #ilovemyjob #patisserie #goodfoodgallery #instachef #pastrychefpage #BarryYummyDesserts #chefstagram #pastrylove #lifeonthepass #foodstagram #baker #handmade
How have you stayed connected to other chefs, suppliers and diners?
I have been keeping in touch with my previous colleagues; we’ve had several phone calls to discuss each other’s circumstances. It has definitely been helpful to talk to other professionals in the industry to see how they are going. I have also reached out on social media and had several discussions with other pastry chefs internationally, just to see how they are going and what their situations are like. I have found pastry chefs in general have a sense of sincerity. They generally hope for the best and wish everyone well under the circumstances.
Read what other hospitality professionals have been up to in Hospitality’s June/July issue.