I recently exited the restaurant industry. Not necessarily forever, but for a breather. I like to tell people that your time spent working in a restaurant is equivalent to dog years. The time and energy you put in (especially as a manager) is 7 fold that of a "normal" job. So, by my calculations, the last 5 years I spent as Executive Pastry Chef at a singular restaurant was really like 35 years of my life. And I have the gray hairs to prove it.
Taking a little time off has been great. I know not everyone has the luxury to do this. Especially living in San Francisco. But not having to set an alarm clock, or look at a calendar to know what day of the week it is, has been kind of awesome.
But it has been by working at restaurants and bakeries over the last decade through which I could mark the passage of time. Living in San Francisco's mild climate without snow flurries, tulip bulbs breaking ground or even humid mosquito outbreaks (I'm not complaining... just saying), leaves me unaware of the season.
It dawned on me that it's the restaurant holiday hustle that tells me it's February, or May, or almost a New Year. Yesterday I realized that I wasn't planning a price fixe menu for Valentine's Day barely a month after crushing it on New Years Eve, only to roll into Easter, then Mother's Day and even Father's Day.
How will I know it's Valentine's Day? I haven't been pulling out my sharpie to write the date on masking tape for an egg white label in weeks.
Well, luckily I do follow a bunch of other super talented pastry chefs on Instagram and see that they are all working on bright red lipstick colored desserts. All the chocolate companies seem to be hiring extra labor. Obviously I can't miss the myriad shades of crimson hearts spilling out of the grocery store. Nor has every restaurant in my neighborhood's flyers for a romantic Valentine's set menu for $90 been lost on me either.
But mostly, I'll probably know it's Valentine's Day when I wake up to a sweet card from my husband, only to tell him to "hold that thought" while I run out to buy a card.
Here are a few Valentine themed desserts from the last decade.