Today I’m sharing big news again for Pinch Me, I’m Eating: my admission into school at the Culinary Institute of Charleston! I hope to enrich my own culinary knowledge so I can pass that onto you, and create even better recipes as I learn!
Three years ago in 2019 I wrote a post called Goodbye Fear, Hello Future: A New Chapter for Pinch Me, I’m Eating. It chronicled my trip to the Everything Food Conference (EFC), and my subsequent decision to go part time at my day job to focus more on the blog. (Since then I’ve completely left my day job to stay home with my daughter, who was born in May of 2020.)
Attending the conference required me to reframe my mindset from my default “I wish I could do that.” to “How can I do that?” And I recently had another such moment that will mean more big changes for this website.
A Lifelong Dream, Realized
One day a couple months ago I was scrolling Facebook and saw a post from the Culinary Institute of Charleston announcing free tuition for the next year.
“I wish I could do that,” was my automatic thought. Culinary school is something I’ve always wanted to do.
I used to dream about attending Johnson and Wales in my hometown of Charleston, SC. I shadowed a family friend at her bakery while homeschooling in elementary school and the pace and atmosphere was exhilarating.
As a residence hall desk manager in college, one of my staff members told me as soon as he graduated from the pre-med program his parents insisted he complete, he was planning to attend culinary school. Although I loved the art and music programs I was enrolled in, I felt a tinge of jealousy.
And later, when I was employed full time as a graphic designer, a new employee announced she was a graduate of the esteemed Culinary Institute of America’s baking and pastry program, and once again I felt a sense of longing.
Well, here I was in 2022, actually making a living in the food world as a self-employed recipe writer and website owner for Pinch Me, I’m Eating, with an incredible opportunity in front of me, and my thought was still “I wish I could do that.”
Well, forget that. If not now, when?
So I reframed again. “HOW can I do that?”
I still wanted to spend most days with my 2-year-old daughter, so I didn’t want to be in class four days a week. I didn’t want to miss dinner and bedtime with her every day. And I would have to rearrange the few weekly hours of childcare I have from my sister to align with my class schedule.
On top of that, I was newly pregnant again and likely to be incredibly fatigued (and possibly nauseated), so I’d have to factor my energy level into the equation.
Would it be as easy as it would have been when I was 18, single, and child-free? In most obvious ways, no. But I do have the advantage of maturity, passion, drive, and clear goals.
So I applied. I was accepted.
I was SO tempted to back out at the last minute.
But I just finished my first full week of class. And I’m so excited to finally get a professional education in the field that has drawn me in since childhood.
Bear with me for a moment while I go on a short tangent.
In music theory, you learn musical formulas that *just work* for sounds you’re trying to achieve. While you can certainly figure them out by having the sound in mind that you’re going for and playing around until you stumble upon the right chords, it’s much easier if you know the chord progressions that will get you that sound from the get-go.
Similarly, I can spend a week making 18 batches of cookies, adjusting ingredients each time, to try to perfect the flat, chewy texture with the crispy edges I’m going for. I can try other recipes claiming to achieve the results I want and, if they did in fact turn out like I wanted, analyze their techniques and their ratios of flour to butter to brown or white sugars, eggs, and leaveners.
Or I can learn the building blocks of cooking and baking and know why things turn out the way they do and how to achieve certain tastes and textures.
I’m looking forward to studying under esteemed and experienced chefs, learning classic techniques, learning how to better develop interesting, accurate, and reliable recipes, and gaining so much delicious and delightful knowledge I can share with you on Pinch Me, I’m Eating.
Goodbye Fear, Hello Future: A Powerful Mindset
These words, “Goodbye Fear, Hello Future” have followed me since we received t-shirts with our choice of phrase at EFC.
The shirt I chose at the time said “Big Dreams, Small Steps,” but many times I have felt like I’ve overcome fear to embrace a new path forward: in my decision to attend the conference, in going part time at my day job, and in leaving my job completely after my maternity leave in 2020 to focus on being with my daughter and maintaining the blog. (I even overcame a lot of fear in my marriage to my wonderful husband and our decision to start a family).
And once again, I overcame fear and the inertia of an ingrained routine to make another big change: going back to school after nearly 15 years.
I put out a request to attendees of EFC to see if anyone would be willing to sell me their Goodbye Fear, Hello Future t-shirt, and the conference organizer herself sent me hers: Not just an extra, but the one she herself had worn and loved since 2019. Such a meaningful gift I will treasure and wear often!
You can listen more about my blogging journey and my mindset of overcoming fear on my August 2022 interview on The Sage Sayers podcast.