Okay, here goes nothing. This post has been written in my head, and talked about with friends for weeks now. Probably more like months. I got a little stuck on how to get back in the swing of things.
The last blog post was about the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs National Conference that I attended shortly after moving back to LA. In speaking to one of the chefs during the conference, we discovered we lived down the street from each other. She gave me her card and told me to email her and she’d happily help me figure out the LA pastry scene. Not to mention, she’s won three James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Pastry Chef of the Year. Once we discovered we were neighbors, she told me she has breakfast every Sunday at our neighborhood cafe, The Local Yolk. After the conference, I followed up with a few emails. I knew she had a busy schedule, but I figured since I hadn’t heard back yet, I might as well take a shot and pop by The Local Yolk just to ‘check.’ Armed with a book and back up plans to meet some other friends for breakfast down the street, I walked over early on Sunday. As soon as I poked my head in the restaurant, she was sitting there with her family. I walked by and said hello (after nearly freaking out and not going in at all). They invited me to join them, which I did after a bit of an awkwardly exchange not wanting to impose. My plan was just to see if she was there and say hi. I hadn’t really thought it out past that point.
During breakfast, she asked if I knew that she was opening a restaurant and the current staff was doing training and would I like to come in with her Monday for a stage day to experience a restaurant opening. Of course! Long story short, two days later, I became the pastry lead. Insert wide-eyed, shocked face emoji.
We trained for three weeks, working on the bread and dessert recipes and perfecting everything. Then, the day before we opened, the girl who I was overseeing (completely new to pastry, hadn’t gone to school or worked in a bakery/restaurant) decided she didn’t want to work in a restaurant and quit without notice. May and June pretty much became a blur of non-stop working. I’m an hourly employee, so I was trying to enjoy the overtime, but mentally it left me a bit frazzled. Not necessarily the long hours, but more the fact that I just moved back to LA and felt very disconnected from friends and any semblance of a work/life balance. Come the end of June, the new girl started fulltime, which gave me a much more balance schedule and I started to regain a bit of sanity.
At the beginning of July, I went to Atlanta for my best friend and round the world partner-in-crime Danielle’s wedding. It was a quick trip, but a fun celebration and always good to see friends and family! Plus, my mom, aunt and I snuck in dinner at Staplehouse, which was one of the best meals I’ve had in a while! Bon Appetite was filming that night during our dinner, and at the time they couldn’t tell us what it was for, but it has since come out that Staplehouse got voted Bon Appetite’s Best New Restaurant. Can’t wait to visit them again, a very well deserved award!
At the end of July, my world collapsed a bit with the news of my grandpa having a heart attack. He had to have bypass surgery, which went well, but he didn’t wake up for a week. My aunts, uncle and I all booked flights at the beginning of August and when we got to the hospital, my dad welcomed us with the miracle news that he had woken up. I relieved my dad for the day and sang him a few of the songs he taught my brother and me as kids, read him some of my current novel and just talked. He gave me a thumbs up, blinked his responses and tapped his foot when I was singing. That may or may not have been just a reflex, but I believe he was tapping his foot to the song.
Since then, it’s been an up and down emotional rollercoaster. My dad has done an incredible job taking care of everything on a daily basis and filling the rest of us in, but in these situations, it’s so hard not living closer and just relying on positive thoughts, faith and prayers to will him back to health. Last week, we found out he’s got congestive heart disease and it’s not looking good. He’s 90 and has had an amazing life, but it doesn’t make it any easier. Grandpa has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders and trying to prepare for the worst breaks my heart. It’s been a rough six weeks. Thankfully I did get to visit with him and Grandma Linda during my Atlanta trip!
When I moved back to LA, I wanted to look for jobs at a restaurant. I felt I’d never truly given them a fair shake and thought it would be beneficial to have the experience. Coming up on five months I’m not entirely sure how I feel. I’m slowly working out what I really enjoy, and what I don’t. I really enjoy the production aspect of baking, and creating beautiful desserts for people to enjoy, but I’m not entirely sure a restaurant might be me. I’m not planning to throw in the towel any time soon, but gathering information on options that could create a blend of the things I enjoy most!
The fall includes my mom visiting LA, a trip to Yosemite and hiking Half Dome, my continued quest to rediscover Los Angeles, reconnecting with old friends and more baking and blogging at home. I’m also excited to enjoy some NFL Chargers football Stateside (watching games at appropriate hours!).
That about sums up the summer. I still miss London, but each beach day and sunset against the Pacific make it a little easier to manage! 😉