The Shoulders We Stand On

Saturday, Dec 2nd, 2017

I’ve long wanted to write a series of posts on this blog dedicated to the shoulders we stand on. Everything I know, I learned from someone else in one way or another, and many of those people who labored to forward the craft of baking, pastry, and desserts, are at risk of slipping from our minds. Once we put our spatulas down, untie our aprons for the last time, and walk out of our kitchens for the last time, the work we have done fades from the collective pastry brain. Heck, even people still doing that pastry thing are relatively unknown to my cooks. I’ve had to explain to a macaron loving sous chef who Pierre Herme was (psst… he’s the living, breathing, and working father to the modern day macaron), and just recently introduced my team to Maida Heater, a woman who’s books on cookies helped shape my love of baking long before professional kitchens.

I want to write this series for all the new pastry cook’s coming up in our world. I want them to see the shoulders we are standing on. Who innovated what a restaurant dessert could be 30 years ago? Who changed the face of bread bakeries in the states? Who wrote the books that home cooks were inspired by? Who simply worked in a restaurant long forgotten, making desserts we no longer think about, but buried a piece of themselves into everything they made? What inspired them? In this sweet relay race with no end and no beginning, I want to know who once carried the torch that we are running with today, and I want to remember what they did while they held it.

It’s a personal fascination of mine, and with the social media accounts of today, there is a photographic record of our own work that can offer this knowledge to the future generations. But I want to know more about those who have helped shape our craft and our industry, and I want to tell you all about them.

Stay tuned, my first piece will be about Maida Heater. In the mean time, I ask you, fellow pastrians young and old, who’s shoulders do you stand on? Who was just killing it when you were in the trenches? Who were/are your chefs talking about? Do tell!