Back To The Place Where It All Began

When I arrived, students were already starting their mise en place for the two muffin recipes we were required to make today. I returned to my original station and got started right away. Before the day’s demonstration, we finished our apple pies by cutting vents and decorating them with flowers and leaves we furnished out of our leftover dough. I applied another egg-wash coating and placed all four pies (including the mini blueberry pies) in the oven.

We prepared the blueberry muffins using the muffin method which leaves the muffins crumbly yet moist while with the chocolate chip muffins, it required the creaming method which results in more of a pound-cake-like texture. I garnished my blueberry muffins with the crumb topping I used for my blueberry pies and used decorative sugars for my chocolate muffins. After throwing my muffins in the convection oven (needed for more lift) I checked on my pies. Perfect! I took the blueberry pies out. I noticed that the lattice design on the top of one of the pies wasn’t cooked as thoroughly as I would have liked, so I covered the main crust with tin foil (Chef’s suggestion) and replaced it in the oven. I kept a careful eye on the muffins and the two pies left in the oven. The latter ended up finishing first, so I prepared a baking sheet, arranged my products, and walked to Chef’s table.

After presenting my pies, chef showed his approval by limiting his criticism. Thankfully my pie crust did not slide off the top of the pie or cave in or burn or end up hard and flakey-less like some of the others in the room. He essentially said that I learn quickly and I have an ability to recreate. I was quite proud of myself considering the disaster the day before and the fact that I really could not put my heart into making the pie—I just don’t like them.

My muffins were done! I pulled them out, arranged them as well, and walked up to Chef’s table for my final grading of the day. When presenting my muffins, chef looked very pleased. He said I follow proper technique. He then did something I’ve never seen him do or say before.

“Zonaton, ‘ave you tasted yuh muffeens?”

“No, not yet Chef.”

“Well, do eet!”

“Now Chef?”


I grabbed a muffin, rather perplexed and unprepared, and sunk my teeth into one of my chocolate muffins.

“Well? What do you theenk?”

I knew I couldn’t say anything too positive so I tried to look for anything wrong I could say about it. With a full-mouth I started my self-critique.

“Well, they are quite different from the blueberry muffins. These are more cake-like. When I make these again, I would like to add more chocolate (a suitable response for the one who possesses the name “chocolate boy”). I don’t like the decorative sugar on top.”


“It adds a crunchy texture to the muffin that I find rather ill-fitting to the moist, cake-like texture that a muffin should have.”

“Eh za blueberry?”

“The crumb topping is complementary to the blueberry because they are deliberately crumbly and I think the topping enhances the overall taste.”


“Yes Chef?”

“Vairee good.”

“Thank you (awkward pause). Uh, thank you Chef.”

After a nod of approval, he continued to compliment my work over the past two weeks. I don’t remember everything he said, but I was rather taken back and pleased that Chef notices my unfailing desire to learn and create. It was a good day in the kitchen. Yolanda had to drive to Le Cordon Bleu to pick up the four pies and roughly two dozen muffins, saving me from the terrible task of walking all of it home in windy weather.
Blueberry Muffins

Chocolate Chip Muffins

Apple Pie

Blueberry Pie

Shortly after arriving home, I received a phone call from a young lady from the ward named Sarah. She invited me to hang out with her and her friends with a caveat that I might feel uncomfortable since I’m “so much older” than her and her 18/19 year old friends. I’m only 24! That makes her sound incredibly insensitive, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. She is an incredible person actually, and I was very thankful for the invite. She picked me up and we made a quick stop at her home where we picked up her friend and dropped off some of the muffins to her parents. The rest of the evening brought wonderful food, good (and at times, interesting) conversation, and exposure to some of Pasadena’s finest—enough people to help down one of the four pies made in class today. All of the people that evening were Harvard students or at studying in New England. It made me wonder how different my life would have been had I gone to Harvard and not BYU for my undergraduate degree. As curious as I was, I couldn’t get over the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at BYU and the fine education received there. Go cougars! After Sarah drove me home, I got ready for bed and fell asleep—abruptly.

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