Before opening the bakery, I taught culinary arts at our local community college. So did one of my friends, who also helped me out in the bakery during the first year. She taught a course called "Flavorings and Aromatics" (or something like that). The class met once per week and included a short lecture followed by a lab. About 20 students.
One day they were making black bean and mango salsa (and learning about the various flavorings and spices used in salsas). She handed out the recipe and went over it, then made team assignments. And they got to work. As she floated in and out among the teams prepping vegetables she watched as one of the students opened a can of black beans and was about to empty it directly into a bowl of beautifully diced onions and mango.
Chef: "WHAT are you doing? You need to rinse those beans."
Student (looking over the recipe sheet): I"It doesn't say to rinse the beans in the recipe."
Chef (incredulous): EVERYONE KNOWS you have to rinse beans before using them.
Well, apparently not. That student, who always sat in the front row of the classroom, was stunned and embarrassed. She retreated to her seat and did not participate in the lab the rest of the day.
You know what happens when you assume...
There are some things I have never assumed. Like most people have no idea what it means to temper chocolate. Or that you need to bake cheesecake in a water bath or it will crack across the top. Or you can kill yeast if you're not careful. There are however, several things I USED to assume. So here is a random list of ten things I no longer assume in the bakery:
- Everyone knows it's wise to read the directions and make sure you have all the ingredients before starting a recipe.
- Anyone who says they can cook knows there are 16 ounces in a pound, or 4 cups in a quart, or 3 teaspoons in a tablespoon. And there is such a thing as a "standard measuring cup."
- Everyone knows that a "dozen" means 12.
- Everyone knows the "A.P." in flour stands for "all purpose" (and there is more than one type of flour).
- Everyone knows that granulated sugar and confectioner's sugar are not the same thing.
- Everyone knows that baking powder and baking soda are not the same thing.
- "Cooks" know that water boils at 212oF and freezes at 32o, and you should preheat an oven before using it.
- Everyone knows that if you leave the water running in the sink it will eventually overflow (and items left unattended in the oven will eventually burn).
- Anyone who has been to culinary school knows the difference between "clean" and "sanitary."
- And surely nobody would ever leave a sharp knife in a sink full of water.
Today's lesson? Tell your employees what's important but never assume they are listening.