Be vulnerable

It seems like there aren’t many passion pursuers out there anymore.  People who are just going for it.  Whatever “it” is.  And not because it’s practical or safe, but because it feels right and it’s fulfilling.  Maybe it’s the fear of looking like a fool and what the fall could do to your soul.  That sure was one thing stopping me.

After deciding to take the apprenticeship, I knew there was a chance that I’d fall out of love with baking.  I was worried that the romance of it all would soon be lost in the routine.  Hi, I’m Jenn and I don’t usually like routine (there, I admitted it). This was different though. The early mornings didn’t bother me. I looked forward to being up before the sun, tying my apron, the smells, working with my hands, the finished product, and EATING such delicious art. I’ve found something special.

My last day at the bakery took me by surprise. I spent most of the morning trying to fight back the full spectrum of emotions that came my way. How did I even take the leap? What would life be like when I got back home to my Mr. and loved ones? Would Lakeland even take me in? But most of all, I was sad to leave my little bakery family and just as excited to begin something of my own. And, that’s when it happened. One moment I was cleaning the mixer and the next I had lost all control of my tears (I mean waterworks, people)! My coworkers saw me in a way I barely let my husband. It was then that I realized how important it is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. It’s in those authentic moments that you discover your true self.

2014 was a year of rediscovery for me and I owe it all to being vulnerable. Which is why it seems appropriate to name my bakery……….*drum roll*…… Born & Bread!

2015 is going to be a fantastic year. I’m so looking forward to feeding all of you!

Moral of the story: If you want to be anything other than what you are right now, admit it dammit, and chase YOUR dreams.

Jenn

"It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the person who is in the arena. Whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly ... who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly ..."  Theodore Roosevelt

 

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A question we've all been asked. The answer according to the 3 year old me has stuck with my family for years. One, because it was cute, and two because I had a lovely speech impediment to make it sound even cuter! I wanted to be a makeup dirl and a donut dirl - Come on! It's not that hard to understand!

It's ironic how that has, in a way, become truth in my life. I'd go to say that because of my work over the last few years I'm surrounded by more makeup than the average human being, and although I'm not mixing donut dough, flour and dough-like goodies are more prevalent than ever.

I don't want it to seem as though this has always been a certainty. It's taken more time than I'd like to talk about to find something I've considered a passion. The road has been winding and bumpy.

More literally, my time on the road has been what's inspired me. Through modeling I've had the chance to visit some pretty cool places. Last week, I spent time in Mexico, yesterday I took a day trip to NYC, and in a few weeks I'll be in Minneapolis. Seems like a TON of fun, but trust me when I say that work is called work for a reason.

I am grateful to have had the chance to travel though. During downtime, I take full advantage of what's at my fingertips. I always make sure to visit top bakeries and eateries. Yesterday in NYC, besides work and seeing one of my dearest friends, I visited Sullivan St Bakery - Owned and operated by world renowned baker Jim Lahey. I even got to meet him! We talked for a while about life in baking and about my plans. It's experiences like this that have helped me answer life's big question.

But the truth is, I don't really ever want to grow up. I want to be a big kid forever, and dream with no limits. So, here's to never growing up and finding peace in the unknown.

Forever learning,

Jenn

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Sullivan St Bakery, NYC

Sullivan St Bakery, NYC

Here's Jim Lahey. And here's me looking like a goof. Guess I was a little excited. 

Here's Jim Lahey. And here's me looking like a goof. Guess I was a little excited. 


Real Bread - It's meant to be experienced!

Certain foods often get overlooked. Like bread. We think - it's just bread! What's so special about it? But the question is, have you ever had artisan bread? Beautifully made by hand using age old methods and the simplest ingredients. Flour, water, salt. It's marvelous what those three things can do when they get together.

Real bread is hard to describe and truly meant to be experienced. It wasn't until I experienced real bread for the first time that my mind was changed. Everyone likes a regular ol' ham and cheese sandwich on regular ol' bread. There's something nostalgic about it. But throw that puppy on a couple slices of perfectly handmade country loaf with it's crackly crust and airy crumb, and you'll quickly convert too.

Last week, I learned all about Challah (pronounced holla!), a traditional Jewish bread that takes two days to create. It's hand-braided and beautiful, but the beauty of this bread goes beyond the smooth golden crust. Give the oven a few minutes and a bouquet of sweet honey takes you to another place and time. Challah is surrounded by tradition and loaded with symbolism, and working in a kosher bakery has opened my eyes to how wonderful this bread really is.

Friday's are special at Zak the Baker. Not only is it hummus friday (and OMG the hummus.. Let's not get distracted), but it's a day when the Jewish culture celebrates Shabbat. Traditionally, this day and holidays are celebrated with a super special bread - Challah!

Bread is woven through our lives, and has been for so many years. It's thousands of families gathered around tables. It's culture. It's sharing. It's love.

Jenn

PS – On the rare occasion you have any Challah leftover, it makes for the perfect French toast!

A lesson in baking.

On average, my mornings begin around 2 a.m. That's when my mental alarm thinks it should start going off every hour until my actual alarm sounds. After rolling off a dear friend's couch puffy-eyed, I have nice yawn, get ready and head to the bakery. It's still dark out.

When I get there the head baker has already pulled the first batches of bread out of the oven. And I think we can all agree that smell was sent straight from heaven! For the rest of us it's nonstop sticking to a very precise regimen. Everything has a time, a weight, a temperature, and a technique. Something like this: Prep ingredients, clean, prep table, pre-shape dough, tidy up, final shape and place dough in basket, set timer, tidy up again...

When keeping a schedule like this, it's probably important to love what you're doing.  And I do.

Valuable lesson of the week

Before starting my first week in the bakery, I tried imagining what a typical day might look like. I fully expected to be "Jenn the do-girl" doing simple tasks like weighing flour, watching from the side, and sweeping up. But that wasn't the case at all!

On Friday, Zak asked me how everything was going. I told him how happy I was to be thrown in to work with the rest of the team and that I thought I'd be doing much simpler tasks. He responded with a powerful, "Isn't it all simple?"

And it is simple. I love the simplicity of the art of making bread. But, simple doesn't mean easy or that any less care is taken. It's basic ingredients (flour, water, salt) plus a lot of love and passion. It's a lesson that I've taken home with me to apply to the rest of my life.  I believe that's what our time here is all about, the simple things. Dinner around a table, choosing to call someone and not text, just sitting and talking with the one you love, karaoke nights with friends.  

Basic things plus a lot of love and passion.  An important lesson in baking.

Learning,

Jenn



Bread is better broken with you.

Like a lot of us, I've spent most of my adult life in search of purpose. So I'm not wasting space on this earth. Selfishly taking in oxygen without anything to give back. But how do you even begin? It's easy to romanticize purpose, it's another thing to find it. I'm surrounded by people who have found passion and that doesn't make living without it any easier.

Rewind to four years ago. I began working as a fashion model, and in that time I had the great opportunity to travel to different parts of the world for work. A dream come true, right? Truth is, it was a dream that my dad had for me for as long as I can remember and I thought I could make it my own.

I love food way too much to be model anyway! In fact, every trip I take is planned around where I'll be eating. Example - I went to France and said, “I guess we can see the Eiffel Tower... I mean, it is right around the corner from that little boulangerie with the fresh baguettes.”

All things food. That's my heart.

Sometimes it's simpler than it seems. Sometimes you know you the best after all. Sometimes life calls for the cautious step, and other times you just have to run with it. A good friend said my journey so far seems serendipitous. I must be on the right road. This is me running with it.

Today, I'm heading down to Miami to begin an apprenticeship at Zak the Baker. It'll be two months of intensive training under a guy who learned at bakeries and farms all over Europe. Many of the bakers and chefs that I admire were able to master their craft because they once apprenticed. I'm charmed to also have the chance. And when I'm done, I'm coming back home to open a place of my own!

From model to food enthusiast to apprentice, I'll be blogging my every experience, leaving nothing out. Come with. Bread is better broken with you. 

XO,

Jenn