It’s amazing how dashing through a hail storm at 4:45 am causes you to pause for a moment and reflect on your life. Specifically, how did I get here?
For me it started almost eight years ago. I was fresh out of high school and thought I had my life figured out. I had been accepted to a good university, was in a mutually delusional relationship and had an amazingly supportive family. Unsurprisingly, most of that structure crumbled fairly rapidly. I changed my major, transferred schools, shed my juvenile assumptions of relationships and hit the reset button. That lasted another two years. I made some life-long friends, studied abroad, and attempted to “get to know myself”.
Ultimately unsatisfied with my shiny new degree and desk job, I searched around for another challenge. I needed adventure. I wanted to travel; to meet people and save the children. So I joined the Peace Corps. After two years I left Africa with a new appreciation for sunsets, a mental scrapbook of unique experiences, a broken heart, and a medical record littered with third world maladies. I limped back to the U.S.A. having accomplished a lot for a 24 year old, but I couldn’t out-run this nagging feeling that I still wasn’t where I was supposed to be.
I got a job catering in Bangor while I researched my newest obsession: Germany. Maybe I would find what I was searching for there. I felt drawn to the country and was sure, after arriving, that this was where I was supposed to be. Unfortunately, the German government did not agree. And when my visa expired, despite my best efforts, I was forced to return again to the U.S.A. Crushed and nursing a bitter resentment for what I felt was surely an unjust decision, I plotted my next move.
Unable to forget my time at the catering company – and having done a lot of baking and cooking while in Europe – I decided to pursue a career in the culinary field. I was initially drawn to Portland by the sheer number of restaurants and bakeries it offered. For the first time in eight years, I would be living in a place I was familiar with, where I already knew people, and spoke the local language.
After a dozen dead-end job applications and a temporary sublet, I landed a job cooking at a restaurant downtown – but it wasn’t the same as catering. I had to produce the same uninspired food day after day, answer to three different managers and conform to a set of asinine rules that varied depending on the whimsy of the man holding the clipboard. I had fallen foolishly in love with Portland, but I knew that I didn’t have it right just yet. So I started to search again. What did I want to do? What inspired me? What would get me up at 4:30 in the morning to run blindly down the street through a hail storm?
You guessed it – baking. I am mesmerized by the feeling of cake flour, piled softly in the palm of my hand. I am inspired by new recipes and the classics as well. I would rather watch videos of Rose Levy Beranbaum and Julia Child baking pastries, cakes and breads than catch up on the newest top desperate brother reality show (or whatever it’s called). When I’m not baking, I’m thinking or reading about baking. My head swims with recipes for full fat, all sugar, double chocolate pies. Without even knowing it, without planning it, baking has consumed me.
It took me eight years, four countries, many bad jobs and a myriad of tiny decisions to lead me here – to baking in Portland, Maine. So to all of you cake enthusiasts, you bagel aficionados, you vaguely interested parties: I hope you will join me as I explore what Portland, and the baking world as a whole, has to offer us. Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments, or topics that you would like me to look into at firstname.lastname@example.org.