Where did good baking go?
I'd like to start a discussion on the direction that the baking industry is going in. Why is something so fundamentally essential to qualities of human life, trending towards inhumanity. Frankly, the logistics are this; It's a difficult industry to make a living at, the personal costs are innumerably higher than most professions and the overall quality, including of staff as well is decreasing dramatically each year. As in everything, income plays into it, not enough pie to pass around (Pardon the pun), but I'm curious if this is rooted much deeper, perhaps even in the overall outlook on food. This topic has been of interest to me in the last few years as the delusions of grandeur so subtly put out there by the celebrity cooks and 'Food" network has begun to dim. I'm interested in what happened to our industry? Where did it go astray? For how long has it been in decline? Are we seeing an end to professional kitchens and bakeries, and a furthering of assembly line production plants? It's disappointing to see such a progressive movement towards professional cooking/baking in younger people, especially those in their teens, whom actively pursue a respectable career and positively impact the public, end up wasting away at some minimum wage 'Rat's Nest' with no development into their 20's.
I'm incredibly happy to be a member of freshloaf, as it is a community of people committed to good cooking. This is a far cry from the shite we're served on a general basis. Yet it seems, from personal interaction, that a majority of the population does have some interest in good food. Otherwise this would all be for not. I've been in hospitality for a number of years, including a kitchen apprenticeship leading me into Pastry/ Baking. A trade, I came to love. That was then however, this is now. And watching standards get lower, cost competition get higher, and wages stagnant, is overwhelming demoralizing to myself and more importantly my family, whom suffer the burden equally with me. I've trained countless apprentices in those years and it breaks my heart that they're not leaving my hands a competent baker. (Now before you attack me and say, it's an obligation to better them, I agree with you, but it is not so. I am not an owner and would quickly find myself unemployed with dependents at home.) Back on topic; These students of baking are not introduced, to pre-ferments, hybrid levains, sourdough, scalding, traditional designations, or seasonality. Direct dough is the industry norm. Shaped and in the store in several hours. What legacy is being left on the trade? Why glamorize something which is at it's essence filthy? Is it like this across the board?
So here are a few questions, for whomever wishes to read this. I'm looking forward to discussing ideas and opinions concerning extremely unsettling trends and realities plaguing a function so vitality close to our humanity.