A Class Down Memory Lane

A Class Down Memory Lane

I’d be the first to admit I know nothing about baking. I mean, I’ve been to a few classes before, but professional baking and making of pastries isn’t something I’ve interacted with before. So when I got the opportunity to be at a graduate training session, I agreed rather enthusiastically.
My experience with SYB courses have always been something unique, from my very first public class here as an eleven year old, to the class here that I was about to observe. I didn’t get to participate the first day, so Sunday morning saw me racing to the baking room, slightly out of breath, nervous about being late.
Turned out I didn’t need to get nervous about that. The students and I shared a small laugh after some introductions and jokes, with most of them there languid and quite relaxed. Though the laughter tapered off after a while, small, comfortable conversations still were carried out in between the students. Though I wasn’t here the first day, I could already see how comfortable the students were with each other, and within this environment.

A few moments later, the trainer of this course and associate from Stoneground: Pierre Gilson swept in, with a bold posture, a firm handshake, and a voice that filled up the room. Things latched on fast after that, with the students, who were obviously in their natural environment like Pierre was, speeding into their uniforms and wheeling into work as I scrambled behind with my camera.
Class was fast paced from an outsider’s perspective, but it was clear to see the others knew exactly what to do with a few prompts and demonstrations from Pierre and other instructors.

Exclamations of understanding coming from students as Pierre sped on with his instructions in French, while Mr.Liu, a previous student and current trainer of SYB, smoothly replied in the same language, then translating what they said to the rest of the class. All professionals in their field, they responded to instructions I barely understood with a smooth efficiency, while all smiling and content, conversing with the instructors and one another alike. Once in a while, someone would crack a joke, scattering a smattering of laughter across the group.

I was happy to just observe, capturing moments on the camera as class went on. The SYB graduates along with Pierre gradually shaped the different colored dough into different shapes and piles, systematic in their chaos, organized in the disarray of many movements. There were already a few batches of bread and pastries in the oven by now, golden and puffing behind the transparent doors.
They smelled more than tantalizing.

After hours of work and a few hundred pictures, most batches of bread and pastries have finally been safely sent to the oven. I poked my head around along with my camera, capturing the final processes of cutting and decorating products as the rich aroma of salt and sweetness grew. The look, taste and smell of pastries instigated quite a few bouts of amazed exclamations from us, and though some talked about how batches of bread might be a bit sour, I have to say this: I couldn’t really tell the difference. They really tasted equally wonderful to me.
Despite the professionalism of the course, at the end of the day, there was no rigid air that filled the room; instead, faint chatter and soft laughs permeated the atmosphere, along with a warm aroma that spoke of a perfect mix of salted olives, morning toast and saccharine sweetness.

Siyuan Feng