I’m not a pastry chef or in the industry for work, I have recently finished studying a totally unrelated degree at University and was fortunate enough to have the support (financially and emotionally) of my family and boyfriend to go through a series of classes at Savour Chocolate and Patisserie School.
I’m not sure if it is normal for someone to take 9-10 classes all in one go over the span of 1 month (besides their VIP students), but I’m really glad I did it. I had other plans for early 2014 I didn’t really look into classes at Savour until October last year, so I didn’t have much time to apply for their VIP Program*.
There is no doubt that I have gained a lot out of my time at Savour. I am naturally an impatient, aggressive and careless person – you put three of those together and it would be a disaster in this field. As Paul (he is the instructor for most of my classes) put it: “you need to step back and think/listen, don’t just go go go!”. It is a very true analysis of my personality and behaviour and it is something I have been working on (slowly) in all aspects of my life.
To see the teachers come into Savour every day full of energy and positivity, it really helped lift my spirits a lot. Coming from a completely different background (in terms of studying) and being currently unemployed and still on holidays, I felt quite guilty because of the costs of the classes. I also had so much self-doubt before my classes at Savour even started mainly due to the costs and the (potentially limited) application of such skills in my future given that I am still unsure of my future direction.
At that point, I have already attended 2 short courses at the William Angliss Institute, which depending on your view, would have been enough for someone who isn’t in this profession yet or isn’t planning to enter this industry in the next 2-5 years.
My worries and doubts all disappeared as I started my very first class at Savour, and it morphed into more interests and a lot more passion in chocolates and patisseries. The enthusiasm of Robyn, Paul and Kirsten really influenced me. They are also fountains of knowledge and are very approachable! They answered all my questions even though some or most of them may have been dead simple and ‘common sense’ to people who have more experience. I never felt stupid in their classes, only constantly learning.
Of course, as an absolute beginner (seeing most accomplished pastry chefs start their journeys as young as the age of 15 as an apprentice and have 30 years of experience), I made more than my fair share of mistakes, but I am learning. I am still learning every day because I try to recreate the products at home, at least the chocolates because they are more manageable without an expensive set up (read: blast freezers). Although the initial costs of equipment/tools (e.g. moulds, Silpats, aluminium trays etc) are not cheap, it is definitely worth the investment if this is something that you love, even if you’re not doing it for a living.
I love it when my friends and family give me constructive criticisms, or when they really enjoy what I make. They are one of the reasons why I keep myself working hard and refining my skills from the multitude of mistakes I make everyday. I baked or made chocolates almost every night after each class, which meant that I was on my feet for at least 12 hours every day at one point because I just wanted to practice everything I learned in class in a different setting right away to test myself. But I loved every moment of it no matter how exhausted I felt at the end of each night.
I am really thankful for the instructors at Savour School: Kirsten Tibballs, Robyn Curnow and Paul Kennedy. Although I may not have been the best or most talented student, their patience, passion and enthusiasm definitely made a positive mark in my life.
*The VIP program is a 3/6 month program (Costs = approximately $3k or more) where you attend all of their classes for the duration of the program. Some people (such as my friend) go on to create sweet treats for friends and family, some may use their knowledge and skills in their profession or businesses and one lucky individual ended up as Savour’s first ever apprentice. They take about 4 each round after an interview process with Kirsten or Paul.