Monday, September 17, 2012

Making Mistakes

If I were to describe my relationship with mistakes, it is one where I know intellectually that we all make them, but that does not stop me from being deeply frustrated with myself when I make them.  This is the perfect job for me to work on breaking through that.  Mistakes are a part of daily life at this shop.  They all have a story.  On Friday at lunch (we had a special celebrate-this-months-birthdays lunch) I got to hear the burn stories.  Like when someone caught their chefs jacket on the wisk in the bowl of 112 degree Celsius caramel and it spilled down their arm (they are o.k.).  Or someone else who got themselves with the heat gun (used to clean chocolate off stuff, it is easier to do with heat than water!).

On Wednesday I was feeding the enrober with toffee when they had someone else take their first attempt at bringing the toffee out the other side.  As Tom often says, “there were a lot of moving parts.”  She made pretty much every mistake you could and I know that if I get the chance to do it, I will do all the same things.  There really are too many moving parts. 

 I’ve made some myself. I had a row of ganache that weren’t square and I had some go flying off the end of the cutter on me.  Painting brought a whole new level of awkwardness and sense of incompetence to my experience (painted again today, with mostly good results, and some mistakes) I was trying to do the white lines/streaks for the fleur de sel caramel.  I think my last 3 or 4 molds I finally got the wrist action to get lines, but they were often on the plastic between the molds rather than in the molds where they should have been.  Artisan chocolates, hand painted, have some variation.  That line from someone made me feel better.  Spraying the molds with the background paint seemed easier.  I seemed to get the thickness and rhythm of that --- but I’ve only done single colors so far.  Today I added capping (the caramels) and filling (the caramels) to my list of things tried.  I definitely need practice.

Somehow, it just seems o.k. and normal to make these mistakes.  I’m really enjoying this world where precision and excellence are the expectation, but mistakes are normal and something you learn from and move on.  I’m sure most people live in this world, but for me it is refreshing, healthy, a good lesson, and even fun. 

There is a new full time employee starting tomorrow, so I’ll no longer be the bottom of the totem pole and there will be another person around making new mistakes. 

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