I am glad I took a break from writing this weekend. It was a much needed gap to relax my mind and open my eyes to absorb more around me and put my thought to it. We finally had some amazing sushi, which filled the void of the awful experience from a week before. And I got the chance to create my own version of a cupcake to share with my family.

As I had mentioned in one of my previous blogs, I was asked to bake cupcakes. They were for a birthday celebration for my family and I was terrified. I mean, just because I have been exposed to and am learning all this new culinary concept, it does not by any stretch mean that anyone will enjoy it. But I took that chance. Thankfully, pretty much everyone was interested in and enjoyed the cupcakes. Obviously, submitting food that would be considered “new” to anyone leaves you open for criticism and you have to accept it. You put it out there, they can dish it back. I just found family is specifically scary because you have to see them again…you may never have to see a perfect stranger in your restaurant again. It was a swing and I got a base hit, which was more than I could ask for.

Maple Bacon Cupcake

And the cupcakes bring me to the title of my blog. The cupcake was my attempt to not only show my family I’m learning, but I’m trying new things and applying what I’ve learned. And for the most part, they have been beyond supportive and asking for my advice/knowledge. That was until it became the topic of discussion with a specific family member. I will not divulge their specific relation, as that is not important. It was the how, the why and the lack of any attempt to learn about and not criticize without any knowledge that frustrates me.(And I fully understand that using “they” to speak about one single person is not grammatically correct. My mother was a friggin English teacher…but it’s how I choose to indicate “them” so “they” aren’t outed.) So, here goes:

It has been some time since I’ve seen this family member, and I can only imagine that they found out my desire to go to Culinary Arts school thru the family I see more frequently. They approached, looked me right in the eyes and said “So, you’re going to take cooking classes?” I was baffled. I do not expect everyone to know what Culinary Arts IS, but it is a degree. An accredited degree. I replied, very confused “No? It’s actually an accredited degree program. I will be taking classes to learn culinary arts and achieve the degree.” “Oh” they replied. “When do you start?” I was happy to find they they were perhaps taking a genuine interest, not just asking questions because I am related to them. I went on to explain the class schedule, my plans to attend in the fall, the general gist of what my degree would entail and another class I would be taking at another school to become an accredited sommelier. Then came the part of the conversation that I wished I had the audacity to just walk away from.

I should have known it would happen. Just like I had previously discussed my family’s knack for baking, the question came: “So, are you going to be a baker then?” It should be natural right; passed down like some cupcake adorned sword of baking heritage. “I’m not really interested in specializing in pastry.” I mentioned. I did not get any reaction from other family members who spend a great deal of time baking, because they knew it wasn’t anything personal. However, this individual (who rarely cooks, let alone bakes) decided to shame me, solely based on the fact I didn’t want to specialize in pastry. I probably shouldn’t have taken any of the comments to heart, but what truly hurt is someone who is not familiar with culinary arts (casually or otherwise) decides to form uneducated opinions based on nothing! How could this person say such things? Everyone else has been so positive, so supportive and given me chances to flex my still developing culinary muscles. And this one person managed to over-simplify and under-appreciate something they have no experience, training or even daily experience. I tried to explain what culinary arts “is”, what it means and the ideas I have with it. To anyone else it is a degree program…to them it was “cooking classes” at the local community club.

What I wanted, more than anything, was to be given the chance to help them understand what I was doing. I didn’t want them to understand culinary arts, knife skills, or even how to truss a turkey…I just wanted them to understand and not be so damn snarky. The perspective I’ve had to give myself is this individual is not known for their cooking. Every time there is a family function, they ask for plates to take home to their significant other as to avoid cooking. Baking to them involves melting chocolate and peanut butter, then pouring it over Chex. All of this came from the person who only cooks with Stevia and flaxseed because some program on NBC said it’s good for you. I wanted to share this journey with people, but this person has decided to remove themself from the entire experience I wish to share. And I know, and have been told, both of them will be the same people to show up at my restaurant someday (My goal is eventually Vegas…the best culinary melting pot in the world, in my opinion) and ask for a free meal. The beauty is, they probably could have enjoyed the same meal years earlier when I was developing my menu. It’s not my intent to hold a grudge, but I will not have busted my ass in culinary school to give away free meals to the people who found my ambitions silly, fruitless and unnecessary. In the end, I will do it for myself. But it won’t hurt to have a stellar restaurant on the strip in in the new “mega colossal metropolitan center”, serving simple food done beautifully with a few twists and boasting a breathtaking panoramic view of the Las Vegas strip. Someday…someday.

With that mess of “hurt feelings” off my chest, I’m off to work on a recipe for Devil’s Food cupcakes with some roasted chilies inside, and a chipotle chocolate frosting. Any guinea pigs?

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