NYC as a bread baker

The hardest decision I may have ever had to make resulted in me going to NYC alone – to make viennoiserie (aka croissants, danishes, puff pastry, etc.).  Justin did not come up with me.  We decided that it would be best for him to stay in Houston to continue looking for potential locations for a restaurant.  (No, we are not having marital problems, but thanks for asking.)

The irony is that this was a necessary move in order to solidify our future.  I had always had this dream of living in NYC when I was working in finance- and he, well he can’t really withstand the constant hustle of being up here for long periods of time.  We can both pursue our dreams without holding the other back.  For the majority of the time we have been married, I have caused Justin to move around due to my desires to pursue a pastry career.  Along the way we’ve had many homes away from home: Chicago, Napa, Texas, Belgium, Copenhagen, Texas, and now NY.  And we did it with the common goal to one day have a business of our own. But the trail is treacherous and frustrating, I became increasingly cynical in Houston.  I felt inefficient, a little useless, and for me there is so much more I want to learn, see, and experience.  And I realized it would be unfair of me to ask Justin once again to redirect his life to follow my fork in the road.

It’s harder than it looks

I thought it would be a much easier move since I am pretty independent, but I realize with a city as big as NY, it’s nice to have a best friend to experience what this city has to offer. I am, however, very thankful for all the friends we have met in this industry as they also move around, and glad that my move up here has allowed me to cross paths with these friends again.  It makes me a little more at ease.  Either way, it can’t be worse than my friend who’s boyfriend is at elBulli for 8 months and can only communicate with Skype dates once a week if they are lucky. At least my significant other is only a phone call away (well, if he picks up.)

And I have found that I have a new found respect for chefs in general.  To the outside, it seems like a glorious job since there is so much fame associated with celebrity chefs, but the truth is there is a long path that filled with hard decisions and mental angst for much of the industry, especially for the ones that want to do something really special.  Many suffer time apart from their significant others.  Many don’t even have the same days off.  Most have loans and the pay doesn’t exactly lead to a short payback schedule.  (Though in Denmark, school and apprenticeship are subsidized.) Many don’t have health insurance. Hell, most don’t get paid for their overtime (though that is biting some institutions in the butt as they are getting sued). It takes years and years of planning for that first (or second or third) restaurant to open.


It feels good to allow Justin to really go for it. So hopefully there’ll be some good news soon.

But for me? I’m here to learn.  To be patient with the process.  And to have a little fun.  Ok, a lot of fun.

Who knows? Maybe all I’ll ever accomplish is making bread for Justin’s special dinners.

Don’t feel bad for us.  Be excited. There will be good stories to come.

About Karen Man

a student, teacher, sister, daughter, friend, baker, thrower of dinner parties, jumper at the opportunity to fail, made of unicorn breath and Danish summers, and lover of sunflowers.
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5 Responses to NYC as a bread baker

  1. Shelly says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and well written piece..Having been in your situation before, and in it once again from a slightly different perspective, following an individual path to solidify the future is a big but necessary decision to make. It is unfathomable for some and certainly they don’t understand it, but coming from a point of having a strong relationship it is an amazing opportunity to be able to actually go out and take advantage of and fulfill those dreams..and our marriage is just fine too, thanks..

  2. Shelly says:

    Yes, that’s me..please e-mail me, having trouble responding on twitter..thanks

  3. Diane says:

    Hey Karen, I wish you and Justin the best in terms of things coming together in the end. Sometimes it takes courage and a lot of trust to realize that whats best for yall is to go your separate ways for a bit for the sake of each others happiness…and ultmately a shared happiness. I know youre strong,but I also know that everyone feels vulnerable and alone at times. You helped me when I needed someone to talk to and I am happy to return the avor whenever needed. Sorry for the typos…on my kindle.

  4. I think my favourite part is how you refer to Thomas Keller as TK. He sounds like a rapper or professional wrestler. That is amazing.

  5. Pingback: arriving at Oxheart Restaurant | Home.

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