Change is always hard, but with it comes opportunity and promise. Bread is this way--- constantly changing, growing, rebounding. It is as fickle, as it is forgiving. It is in this humble craft that I find comfort, beauty, and reassurance.
For those of you who do not know me, my name is Kristin and I am a 27 year-old pastry chef from Long Beach, CA. I stayed home for college where I graduated with a degree in Economics and History and a minor in M.E. studies, with ambitions of working for the government or continuing my education with a Master's Degree. However, at some point I think I fell out of love with it all. Like most of my generation, I grew up believing that college was the answer and key to my future, only to find myself a bit lost following graduation. I worked in coffee-shops in Long Beach throughout college and after. I found comfort and new friends in the community I had grown up in and began to form an itching desire to create a community space of my own through local agriculture and food.
I realized that in order to come home and create the space I dreamt of, I needed to undergo another education. This latter education was more physical and practical than my time at school, but it tested me mentally as well. I began at the very bottom and was given the opportunity to learn from some of the very best. Working in a kitchen with no experience (particularly when you are not 18 years old) is both humbling and necessary. I'm endlessly grateful to Dahlia, my first Pastry Chef for her patience with me in teaching me the basics of operating in a kitchen and for introducing me to the beauty of simple fruit-driven pastry.
Early on, I began to gravitate toward bread and morning pastries. I've always wanted to recreate that beautiful exchange I used to have with people every morning on their way to work, but to hand them off something I created myself, that is both wholesome and delicious. I felt as though it would take me a while to get there, so I hit the ground running and tried to glean as many skills along the way as I could.
My desire to learn more about naturally leavened bread took me to San Francisco, where I worked and staged at a myriad of restaurants and bakeries, namely: Octavia under Pastry Chef Sarah Bonar, Jane Bakery where I staged in bread, Pain Bakery where I worked as a bread baker, Outerlands where I worked as a bread baker, and finally to Petit Crenn where I worked as pastry assistant, pastry sous chef, and finally as pastry chef.
My climb was fast and I've learned a lot, but of course there is always more to learn. My time as pastry chef tested me in many ways, but the biggest lesson I learned was one of self-realization and direction. When you are working yourself to the bone, it is easy to get saturated and lose sight of your real goals, and occasionally it takes falling down, to be able to get up and change your course. While it was hard for me to leave, it was the best decision I ever made in terms of my own sense of morality and my health. After resigning from my position, I took some time off and helped out at Midwife and the Baker in Mountain View, a much-needed retreat from my 18-hour day, 6 days a week work-week to rediscover what I loved so very much about bread and viennoiserie.
I found myself in love again, in love with the craft, in love with grains, in love with the the imperfection of it all. I couldn't see myself going back, but when I saw myself going forward, I could only see myself doing it at home. Coming home has been hard and humbling. So much has changed and yet so much is the same.
I am comforted by the faces of old friends from my days of slinging coffee at Rose Park Roasters and Portfolio, of drinking beers at 4th Street Vine, and going to house shows across Long Beach. I am also overjoyed by the new connections I've made since coming home--- friends who now bring their children to enjoy my pastries in their own neighborhood, and the people I've never met who seek them out week after week.
I've never been so happy to be home, thank you for welcoming me back.