Newcastle, NSW, Australia
I’m a former industrial chemist, and after deciding on a career change while at home with my two young children, I’m now a qualified pastry chef. In 2009 I started taking some classes in cake decorating and other pastry-related cookery, and taught myself many more decorating techniques from books and internet resources. In 2010 I started a pastry apprenticeship, studying Retail Baking (Cake & Pastry) Certificate III at TAFE, which I completed with Distinction in 2012. I completed my apprenticeship in December 2013, and am now working as a full time Pastry chef and Cake Decorator at 'Exquisite Cakes by Lennert' in Cessnock, NSW.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Decision Time

I've made the decision, and part of me is feeling the need to write it down somewhere that the whole world can see it before I change my mind again... I AM STARTING TAFE THIS SEMESTER!!!  The Hospitality (Patisserie) certificate that I've been wanting to do isn't being offered at the moment because Hamilton TAFE is renovating some of its classrooms...  however, I found out earlier this week that they are still offering Retail Baking this semester.

Now, Retail Baking was what I originally wanted to do when I first decided that Pastry Chef was the way  to go, but that was only until I found out that Patisserie existed.  It was the phrase "using baking equipment and machinery" that then turned me off the Retail certificate (me being a big fan of hand-work and all!), and I started leaning towards Patisserie because it seemed to have less emphasis on mass-production.

So all well and good, I was just going to wait until Patisserie was up and running again, but then things took another interesting turn this week.  We already had day care confirmed for both the kids for three days a week, but when I took them on their first day for the year their carer said some other families had pulled out and she could now take them for the full five days if we wanted.  After a huge internal struggle with mother-guilt ("it's so I can be up and off to work at a moment's notice if I find a job, not because I'm a lazy mother paying someone else to look after my kids while I sit on my butt at home"), we decided to take the extra days.

Then the next twist of the rollercoaster was the letter from Centrelink stating that we only qualify for 24 hours of Child Care Benefit per child per week, and that blows full-time day care out of the water... unless I'm working and/or studying.  So I hit the TAFE web site again last night and took a good, hard look at the two certificates sided by side.  Once I convinced myself to look past the word "machinery," I started to realise that Retail might actually be more in line with what I want to do.

In a nutshell, Retail is geared towards working in "hot bread shops, cake shops, franchises, in-store bakeries and similar outlets" and Patisserie heads towards "patisseries, restaurants, hotels, catering operations, clubs, pubs, cafes and coffee shops."  By the end of last night I was about 50-50, but the more I thought about it, the more the pendulum swung back toward Retail.  It's not all about whether or not things are mass-produced, and looking at the subject list, it seems like there will still plenty of hand-work as well.

So this is it... I'm almost a student again!  It's been eleven years since I finished my Chemistry Diploma, which was the last time I did any serious study.  Enrollment is on the 1st & 2nd of February, and courses commence the following week.  Now the adventure REALLY begins!!!

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