I have just finished my first week as the head of Tennessee State University's bakery department. I am very excited and slightly daunted by this position. It's my first opportunity in management for one. Two, the department is brand new. This is somewhat a double-edged sword. Having no previous expectations gives tremendous freedom, which will take some adjusting. I also think everyone is afraid of too much change. For the past couple years, they have been serving prefabricated products or had random employees bake off their box mixes. A major change was needed. Products were overbaked. Oversweetened. Dry. Tasteless. Very bland. No variety. I think the students and faculty deserve better, and I want to bring it to them. Supplies and tools are still in transit. It will take a few weeks to transition and knock out any bugs in my recipes.In the meantime, I'm trying to make the best of what is available and incorporate small changes that will not explode heads. I think last night's dessert option is a good example of how you can make a box mix great. Kind of like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee. (I am so jealous of her ever-evolving kitchen, but seriously whose wardrobe matches their decor and table setting?) They have been using a Ghiradelli brownie mix, which is not bad at all on its own. I luckily found a single box of chocolate chips, which became a ganache with the help of a little cream. Before it set I sprinkled the top with chopped pecans and slightly pressed them in. I found a caramel sauce in the coffee shop. A drizzle later, and there you have some rockin' turtle brownies from a box. Booyah.
I'm psyched about this opportunity. It could blow up in my face. It could be the best thing in my professional career. I find the possibilities intimidating, challenging, and exciting. My main goal behind it all is to comfort those students who miss home. I hope to provide a little spark to someone's day. To bring that satisfying "ahh" moment. School is hard; teaching is difficult. I think they deserve a little moment to breathe and send some love to their tummies.