I’ve been on and off the grid for a few months now as I’ve been busy enjoying a wonderful European summer and, unfortunately, neglecting this blog. Now it’s time to play catchup.
As you can see, we have a new look. I’ve been in the process of revamping the site for a couple of reasons. Firstly, All Kinds of Hungry is now 1 year old, as of the 14th of September – yay! The 14th of September this year was one of those days that I was completely offline, so there was no celebration, but hopefully this makes up for it.
Secondly, I feel as though I’m on to a new chapter in my life. I think to many it would appear as though the concept of a food blog has gotten away from me a little bit. However, I never really intended for All Kinds of Hungry to be a food-only site… though perhaps it has been interpreted that way. As previously mentioned, and expressed through the name, hungry means a few different things to me. Yes, food has always been a true love of mine. But I’m also hungry for world adventure, new skills and success.
Travel is another thing that interests me as much as food, and the two go hand in hand. I’m fortunate to have been travelling overseas quite regularly since I was very young, but it’s only in the last two years or so that I became well and truly obsessed. I sent myself on a well earned 3-month holiday to some very interesting destinations, which I intend to share here. This is only the tip of the ice berg – I really expected to be sick of being displaced, but instead, I actually used some spare time to compile a list of other destinations that I’d still like to visit. And I won’t be stopping any time soon.
So this is why All Kinds of Hungry is an ‘anything’ blog. I couldn’t possibly restrict it to just one theme. Not when there are many other things that interest me too.
WHAT I’M UP TO
I was avoiding a post like this because I didn’t want to assign too much importance to this turn of events… it’s not necessary. It’s not in my nature to talk about myself a whole lot or express anything remotely like an opinion online – I just don’t like it. But explaining myself to people over the last 12 months, including 3 months of meeting brand new people all the time, has forced me to answer a lot of questions about what I’m up to, where I’m from, how it’s been travelling alone and so on. Most of the people who read this know who I am so it may interest you, or it may not. Either way, I really don’t care. So here goes…
I’m writing this post from the small town of Yssingeaux in the Auvergne region of France. The nearest cities are Saint-Étienne, Lyon and Grenoble, and the nearest mountains are the Rhône Alpes. There are no tourist attractions, there are hardly any people around and I don’t speak any French but this is my home for the next 5 months. Please excuse the cheesy wording, but this place is breathtakingly beautiful.
What brought me here is this town’s pride and joy. L’Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Pâtisserie (ENSP) or the National School of Pastry, at the Château Montbarnier. The ‘Hogwarts’ of patisserie schools. I’ve enrolled in a 5 month French Pasty Arts course here, which is followed by a 2 month internship that can be anywhere in France. Because of my exceptional procrastination skills, I’m actually posting this 2 months after moving here.
It’s quite a commitment of time, money and effort and it was a hard decision to make. See, a lot of people wonder why it was hard. I often hear comments like, ‘oh hell yeah, that’s what I would do’ or ‘why wouldn’t you go if you have the chance?!’. Well, it’s not that simple. For me it was a matter of choosing what I’d like over what I’ve always believed I should do.
Here’s a little bit of background.
I remember being 14 and asking my mother what sort of a future I’d have if I were to pursue cooking as a career, and seeing her a little worried. Rightly so, she is my mother after all. I think the concern was that being a chef is generally not a lucrative career option. Since then, from what I’ve seen, I can say the concern was 100% justified. I’ve been told time and time again by people who’ve worked in commercial kitchens that it’s a lot of work for very little money. So be it. Studying patisserie doesn’t necessarily mean I want to be a chef, this is not really the end goal, but it would be a great experience and there’s nothing to be lost from trying it. As it turns out, this is a very familiar dilemma and decision for people who’ve come to ENSP for the international program, which has been very reassuring.
When I finished high school, I chose to study business because business subjects seemed to be what I excelled in. Or rather, ‘Business Management’ was one of the more conventional subjects that I excelled in. I had a natural aptitude English, Food Technology and playing the drums. It was my belief at the time that none of these would lead to a sustainable career, so I enrolled in a business degree – the option which was easy and which fell directly upon the seemingly ‘failsafe’ beaten path tread by so many youngsters of ethnicity in countries like Australia. I’m thankful I’ve finished my degree because I value what I’ve learned and I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. But I can’t honestly say that studying business has simplified any of my career decisions thus far.
I spent a year working for a big corporation as an intern. It was an invaluable experience, and I have not ruled out the corporate world in my future, but in that particular role there were not a lot of opportunities for personal or professional development, and there was not a lot of interest in developing me. I mentally disengaged about halfway through the year and started looking for pastry courses in Melbourne, though I parked the idea pretty quickly after a discussion with my parents.
The lightbulb moment came following year, during a casual conversation with my elite (haha) volleyball team when the question was raised, ‘If you could do anything other than what you’re doing now, what would it be?’ After I went home, the next question that came to mind was, ‘Why aren’t you doing that?’
I did some research and came across several well known people in Australia who’ve taken similar chances and have demonstrated success in their field. I figured, if I’m going to do it, I might as well do it as authentically as possible and hope for the best. So I started looking for pastry schools in France rather than at home. It was a choice between ENSP, another school in the middle of Paris and another in a rather remote location in the South of France. For me, ENSP has been the right choice for proper cultural immersion. It’s a wonderful small-town experience, being removed from big city buzz but also not too far from a community feel.
Some people have asked me, rather shamelessly, how I can afford to do all of this. While this really isn’t anyone’s business, it’s worth answering if it can convince others to see beyond money. In short, it’s a lot of working, saving, some borrowing and, most importantly, coming to terms with the expense – because plenty of people have money but can’t bring themselves to part with it. I’ll admit that money is one of the reasons this was such a hard choice, but money can be made again…it’s not the same with time.
What sealed the deal for me was realising that having no commitments meant that now is as good a time as any to leap out of the comfort zone. Having already had the idea of travelling Europe and learning a new craft, deciding not to go would have left me wondering about what would – or could – have been. I took the opportunity to travel in Europe as much as possible before coming to France and I decided to go solo. I love travelling with family and friends, I’ve always had a great time with them, but travelling solo has allowed me to go to places that I’d like to see without having to wait for anyone else to be ready to go with me. Staying in hostels and joining group tours has made it easy. Some people shun group tours, and in typical tourist destinations and major cities I might too, but they’re otherwise a good way to meet people, see a lot, and actually relax because everything’s already planned. Anyway, it’s been a ripper trip and I’m excited for what’s next.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS
I’ve been riddled with self-doubt from when I first got accepted into the course, So I’m very lucky to have such supportive family and friends who encouraged me to go ahead. There hasn’t really been anyone who’s been negative about it. This also made it very difficult to say goodbye to home, because it’s now more apparent than ever that home is full of beautiful people.
The only thing that makes it easier is looking forward. Being on holiday and moving to new places every couple of days has made it easier to forget about any worries and live in the moment. It was daunting at first because I knew how long I would be away (11 months total) and I’d never done anything like this before. But the whirlwind 3 months has really helped me adjust to being away from home. I’ve gotten settled in one place which is to be home for 5 months. I was hoping that the new learning experiences will be as enriching as the trip had been and so far, it has all come true.
When asked what my goal is, my answer is usually that I’m not sure. Ideally, if I stay in the food industry, I’d love to have my own business in Melbourne and I don’t plan on working for anyone else for too long. But nothing can be ruled out. We’ll see how things pan out, I guess.
Wow that was a long one. I’m done for now, I’ll post about my trip soonish.