12.6.12

This is the way it ends.

I didn’t even know the way I wanted to start this blog post. I’ve always imagined that the last post I would do about being a student Le Cordon Bleu would be filled with much praise and sentimental feelings toward what would have been one of the best experiences of my life. Don’t get me wrong, a part of me still feels that way. But the happenings of last week’s graduation made me realize that though all the chefs’ passion and guidance are real, and that the skills and knowledge you gain make you that much more employable, this school is at the end of the day.. a business.

It is true that every private school is a business. And a business needs to make money for it to have a point. But when an enterprise gets so big that it spreads over 35 countries and 5 continents, churns out some 20,000 graduates a year, I should't be surprised if after some time, students start to look more and more like dollar signs than people.

This blog was never suppose to delve into this kind of thing. It was only meant to be a venue for me to post pictures of cakes and provide some light reading. But after a few weeks at school, cakes stop being just food. Desserts, plates and showpieces become the way you communicate your passion for the art. Week by week your creations become more personal and closer to your heart. And when that happens, everything starts to shift from business to personal.

I’ve always been a hard worker and an achiever. I've always aimed to do my best and be the best at everything I decide to put my mind to. Therefore, I nearly always get what I want. When they called me up to receive first place in intermediate patisserie, I knew I wanted to see if I could get it twice a row at the superior graduation. So with a goal in mind, I gave it my all. And after all the hard work I had put into the curriculum, I knew I had a good chance of getting that top spot.

At the graduation, I was filled with anticipation of who would be the top five achievers in patisserie. After receiving my diploma and reading my transcript, I knew without a doubt that I would be one of them. However this is when things started to get weird…

The five names that were called up to receive the coveted awards were not ones that had appeared in previous graduations. For some strange reason they were also all sitting next to each other. You guessed it. It was alphabetical. An administrative error. To my horror, five alphabetically ordered students shook the chefs’ hands and had their pictures taken together. Their parents screamed out with joy and their peers clapped and called out their names. No one did anything to stop it or correct the error. I should have been up there on stage, it was my parents that should have been elated with pride.. I was horrified. I couldn’t believe that such a careless error could have happened at my graduation. At what was supposed to be my moment.

That night I received a phone call from the school, apologizing for the mistake, saying that after doing some checks they were able to confirm that all the top 5 place-getters were incorrect, and that I was in fact, supposed to be ranked first.

Needless to say my mind was a fruit cocktail of emotions. I was angry at the carelessness of the school. How could they made such a silly clerical error? I know they carry out four of these graduations a year.. With such a huge turnover of students, I thought maybe they’ve stopped caring at all. 

Trying to make sense of it all, I sought the council of my sister Tania. She asked me whether or not I would’ve still worked as hard if there wasn’t a ranking system. Straight away I wanted to say “of course!” but after thinking about it honestly for a second, I said “no, probably not.” How crazy is that? Do I really need that much validation from others to know that I am good at what I do? Am I that scared of my own mortality and insignificance that I need some fleeting validation to say that I am somewhat special? But on the other hand, who competes in the Olympics just to “participate”? I would want a medal, dammit.

I believe that the “illusion” of the medal is what makes athletes push beyond their mental barriers and achieve things they never knew they were physically able to. The “illusion” of achieving first in pastry at Cordon Bleu made me believe I could push myself more and learn things other students thought were too hard or too much work. So in a way, the illusion had served its purpose. I should just be content with knowing that I had given 110% and achieved things that I never thought was possible in the little time that I had.

So. It’s Monday, and the email did go out to every student at the school, correcting the top five place-getters.  Yes my name is right at the top, and it feels good to see it there. Though the weekend had been a pain in the backside emotionally, at the end of the day, I am grateful that the error (as stupid as it was) happened, and that I could learn this valuable lesson. 

I need to know that the motivation to succeed has and will always be ingrained in me. That I can always tap into it, regardless of whether there’ll be an accolade at the end of it all. So, it turned out to be the most memorable and educational graduation ever :)

Click here for the rundown on the school's website.

My Grand Diplome and I with the chefs of Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Cheers! Now here's to the next thing...

xo
Tal

14 comments:

  1. It's terrible that you didn't have your moment on stage - regardless of the morals behind you wanting to be recognized for your work. Clerical errors of that magnitude aren't forgivable, and it really makes you question the majority of your experience there. But congrats on graduation - I hope you'll continue to share your kitchen experiences even though your time at LCB is over!

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  2. I can't believe they could make such an error! But anyway, congrats to you Talit! I've worked so hard for this, so happy for you! xx

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  3. Hi, sorry to hear this happenned but at least it has made you a stronger person. Will you create a new blog- I would love to hear how you get on. Congratulations
    Polly x

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  4. aww.. thanks for all your supportive messages girls.. I really appreciate it.. It's so good to be able to get this all out of my system, and I'm so grateful to have people that respond.. And don't worry, I'll still be fervently writing on this blog for a while yet :)
    Love love love x

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  5. Cool- look forward to hearing about your adventures :) take care, Love Polly x

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  6. You are so inspiring to me, Talita. Congratulations. x

    P.s - your mum is SO BEAUTIFUL

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    1. as you are to me. miss you bro

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  7. Anonymous1.7.12

    Talita, you have a serious problem with yourself.
    Do you don't have a life? Really, is it the biggest problem in your life? The world didn't stop moving around because of it so think about it. I have pity on you.

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    1. Thanks for reading.

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    2. Anonymous1.7.12

      Sorry about that Talita, I don't know what I was thinking when I posted that, I'm clearly an idiot who doesn't know what I'm talking about. I understand now that it is I who has a serious problem with myself, considering my willingness to write stupid and inane comments anonymously on other peoples' food blogs. Obviously a prerequisite for a blog topic is not that it's the biggest problem in one's life, nor is it a pitiable offence to complain about something that shouldn't have happened in the first place. In fact I now realise what a fool I've been, and how I should be the one deserving of pity, à la Mr T. I also apologise for not being able to use the English language properly. I guess I should probably stop posting now and go back to ogling pictures of your delicious food.

      Jealously yours,
      Anonymous

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  8. Talita! A huge congratulations to you! This is so inspiring - your drive and ambition, and willingness to put in the hard work (accolade or not). You should be massively proud of your achievements. Only huge things await you in the future! xx

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    1. thank you missy.....!!!! all the best to you :) xx

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  9. Hey congrats... Please can you tell me for how long you studied and how much?

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    1. thanks! I studied for 9 months, for too much $$$$$$$ look up the cordon bleu website for exact amount. they keep hiking it up..

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