The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

One hour to go...

arlo's picture

One hour to go...

I am in my Columbus, Ohio suite waiting patiently till I can leave to go to the culinary institute to take my American culinary federation pastry test. I have been working on this for pretty much the whole year, maybe starting around Febuary.

I believe I will be testing with six other candidates today, some doing pastries, some doing artistry.

Nervous, slight headache, and a father who has smoked more cigarettes than I could remember, telling me to take it easy.

If I don't succeed today, just gotta save up the money, practice more, and try it again.

From my phone, so bear with me:)


Mebake's picture

I Hope you pass through the tests. I hope that your endeavors are rewarded, Arlo.

Waiting for the feedback.

From Office, Khalid

RobynNZ's picture

It is clear from what you share on these pages you have worked very hard this year, with that in mind, please go in with confidence and let that hard work shine today.

Robyn (almost bedtime here)

lumos's picture

Good luck!!!!!    Will keep my fingers and toes and every crossable thing crossed for you!

LindyD's picture

Take deep breaths, calm yourself to clear your mind, and most important - be positive!  You'll do just great, Arlo.

breadsong's picture

Wishing you every success today, arlo!
:^) from breadsong

loydb's picture

Knock 'em dead.


Janetcook's picture

Sending my best thoughts your way today.


GSnyde's picture

Best wishes.


arlo's picture

Being critiqued by Executive Chefs, one Master Chef (of 67 in the US), Executive Pastry Chefs and a handful of students watching on, needless to say I was off to a bumpy start with my anxiety having built up during the prepping lecture the hour before. None of this helped.

On my list of things I had to prepare, my genoise was one I felt I handled well. Here the slicing and evaluation can be seen. I made a minor error and beat my eggs a bit too much causing a slight tunneling in part of the cake. Still it was edible though :)

Here I can be seen plating my Bavarian cream while the chefs move in for the kill. Knowing the Bavarian cream takes a while to prep, cool and unmold - it was the first thing I tackled. I really should have went with one of my cookies due to the amount of work that goes into making a Bavarian and not being in the proper mindset off the bat due to my anxiety.

What happened was my Bavarian cream became over heated by around 5-7 degrees and caused some coagulation, I panicked and decided to place it in my molds, then in the fridge and take care of my cake since I was on a time limit. While the cake was baking I moved back to the cream and needed to reheat it to smooth it out. I managed to do this, but I lost some 'fluff' to it. The judges noted it but still said I achieved a nice texture and taste.

In the three hours I had, it took about one hour of warming up before I broke the ice and could be silly-self, attempting to make jokes whenever possible and remembering it was products I make often, and even if I do not pass - the experience was worthwhile.

Anyone can make a chocolate chip cookie right? But under stress and the critical eye of Executive chefs who've been in the business for 30-40 years who've tasted tons of cookies? I had many choices, but I felt that the classic standby was something I could be familiar with, plus it involved the creaming method, which was a method I hadn't used in any of my products yet. So why not right?

I was deeming the cake - not done. Hurry up and finish!

Genoise after a few moments out of the oven. Golden, slightly brown and yummy...I hope.

I made a few other cookies as well and had a very educational time today. After being properly judged and complimented on sanitation, organization and a clear passion, I was given the talking to about not wearing perfect whites, having creases in my apron, nor an ascot on either. Oh and having on the wrong pair of shoes for the day. The critiquing went for a long time and while my Father and Fiance waited outside through the viewing window I just wanted to know if I passed or not.

And I did!

What does this mean for me? Well it was a goal I set early this year, I wanted to know if I could work my way up starting from the bottom in the ACF Pastry Certifications. It was about sticking to and achieving something for myself in this career field. It is a small step, but I am glad I achieved it. I hopefully plan on making my way through the Certifications for my careersake and for the knowledge I will gain.

When I was called Chef at the end, it felt odd. I think I might just keep going by Arlo for a bit ;)

And I have to thank my Father for taking time out of work to purchase a hotel, drive us down and finally talk to him for the first time in a long time about everything in life. Catching up in the four and half hour car ride was nice. Not to mention, thanks to my Fiance for taking time off of school and work just to take pictures and watch me doing something I love. I think she was more nervous during the really long evaluation and critiquing than I was!


AND TFL OF COURSE! Thank you everyone for constructive comments and thoughts in all subjects here - this place is ever so informative!

Thaichef's picture

Hello Chef:

  What a wonderful write up and the pictures!  My daughter is always talk about wanting to be a pastry chef. She is doing something else at this time but I am going to e-mail her your post.

  Great job and well done!


RobynNZ's picture

Well done!

Fancy being able to write that up so well, so soon after too!

What's next?


dmsnyder's picture

I'm proud and happy for you! 

I trust you have an appropriate celebration planned.


pmccool's picture

I'm glad to hear that you overcame your jangly nerves and persevered, Arlo.  Congratulations on passing your exam.


Yerffej's picture

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo

Congratulations on your failure to conform in uniform and footwear, along with an undoubtedly wonderful crease in your apron.........sometimes these details are important and quite often they are not.

It sounds as if you had a great experience with your Dad and fiance and that in itself can make for a wonderful event.  Coming away with the new title of "chef" is rather neat too. Congratulations on something that is much more than just a "small step".


Janetcook's picture

I don't know you Arlo but I am so thrilled that you hung in and pursued your passion despite your nerves!  To me that is a huge accomplishment and something you have every right to be proud of yourself for undertaking!  In my book that shows real character!

Take Care Chef!


Franko's picture

Well done Arlo, and congratulations for your hard earned Chef qualification!
You've gone about entering the food business in the very best way and I wish you great success with your career to come.

Best Wishes,

Mebake's picture

Congratulations, Chef Arlo! i knew you'd overcome the fear and anxiety and do it. Now, we have a well deserved Chef among us, here on TFL!

What is next? I hope bread is somewhere along the certification way up.


lumos's picture


arlo's picture

Thank you everyone, and yes, the improper dressing and crease in my apron was because of my rushing out the door and remembering it all too late at the hotel that night.
I am young and foolish, what can I say? Twenty three years down, sooner or later I will fall into line.
I made up for it in passion and having some decent products though. Trust me on this, I was chastised for quite some time because of my faults. I even received them by onlookers who were there just to watch other chefs as well when I stepped out of the kitchen during the evaluations by the chefs before I could enter again.

@David - No there was no celebration planned unfortunately. My fiance and I went home and fell asleep due to all the other stress we have going on outside of this. It felt good to be back home. To be honest, I wasn't expecting to pass and was contemplating the long, awkward car ride home! Ha!

@Khalid - You know, as far as what is next, I hope to continue down the line of pastry certification levels eventually. Maybe in a year and a half start practicing for the next level. Maybe one day attempting the coveted master title...30 years from now that is. I have so much to learn still, so very, very much.

But thanks for the kind words everyone :)

ehanner's picture

Yours is a great story of accomplishment Arlo. You are the next generation of pastry chefs. We are so proud of you and appreciate you sharing this personal moment with us.


ww's picture

what examination and qualification is this?

nice of you to have shared your trials and tribulations with us on TFL, and so glad for you that you passed!

Elagins's picture

what a great accomplishment! may you have a long and wonderfully fulfilling career.


GSnyde's picture

Years from now, when your fourth best-selling pastry book come out, we'll be able to say we knew him when he was just Arlo.

Congrats, amigo!


EvaB's picture

I know just how you felt, and the long talk about your faults before they get to the important part, YOU PASSED!

They very probably know that you all are best by nerves, and unless you really can't make the products or flub them up so badly they are not salvagable they only tell you all the things you did wrong to keep your hat from becoming too tight! Then they give you the good news and a few ideas about what you might do next.

The whole thing is foreign to me, but for you its what you like, and I say do what you like, not what you have to if at all possible. Make pastry and enjoy your job, not flip hambergers and hate it!

Congratulations and keep on working hard and you too will get to the point where you can scare some poor young person with a list of faults and then make their day by saying they passed!