This Place is as Good as it Sounds.
By Hollie Foster
There are all types of labs in this world. Writing labs (where students dissect a subject), math labs (where students dissect equations), and science labs (where students dissect frogs). Imagine a world (or, imagine a lab) where the only thing you dissect is pastries. Where your toughest assignment is creating a flavor of buttercream- where your final exam is edible- where your homework requires no more than just perfecting your crème brûlée. Well, I have pleasant news for you; not only does this place exist, but is alive and well, sitting comfortably on the second floor of the Namm building.
The Pastry Lab, room 207 in the Hospitality wing of City Tech, is where all this magic happens. According to the City Tech website, the Hospitality major has been in business for over 60 years, with successful alumni scattered all over the city. Hospitality majors, after completing Hospitality Management courses 1101, 1102, and 1105, are introduced to this beautiful room for the first time. The classroom is big enough to house the ingredients, supplies, and bodies of 16 students at one time with ovens, counters, and tall, stainless steel refrigerators. I’m standing at the door- there’s a monotone whirring in the air. Perhaps the fridges working in unison? Some kind of air filter? The hopes and dreams of the undergrads? The room is always slightly humid, but the metal refrigerators are always cool to the touch.
During classes, the room is full of life. Students are rushing back and forth testing the consistency, flavor, and temperature of anything and everything going in and out of the oven. The class may start early- students need to be changed, unpacked, and set up at 8 am on the dot- but sleep is the farthest thing from their minds. Black and white checked pants must be pressed, hats tall, and coats as white and untouched as the day they were purchased. Nails clean, hair tied back, and they’re ready to go.
Professor Hoffmann of the Hospitality Management department fills me in on the lab. According to her, all students become incredibly involved, but due to the varying interests within the Hospitality major, it’s difficult to elect any favorites. But what do students enjoy the least? “Arriving early in the morning,” says Hoffmann, with no hesitation. Students are responsible for cleaning up after themselves after each class, although apparently, it isn’t enough. Professor Hoffmann insists that the College should have a team that gets into the labs to clean them professionally.
While it’s understandable that a student wouldn’t want to do their dishes, it’s still impossible to imagine a better classroom than this one. The best part about this room has to be the smell. Instead of dirt, dust, or pencil shavings, there’s just a warm air of sweetness. It could be cupcakes! It could be fudge! Or, it could be some elaborate cookie coming straight from the oven- as hot, soft, and as fresh as humanly possible. Plus, not to mention, what happens when class is over? I’m pretty confident that free chocolate cake makes this class an obvious step above the rest. Forget the clamoring around during the morning. Forget the exasperated sighs, the clang of a dropped spatula, the murmuring of measurements under your neighbor’s breath. Just think about that moment of absolute bliss as you bite into your first piece of pie you’ve successfully made. Is that the sugary filling on your tongue? Or is that the sweet taste of satisfaction?
Hoffman, Louise. Personal interview. 7 Oct. 2013
New York City College of Technology – Hospitality Management – The Chair’s
Corner.” New York City College of Technology – Hospitality Management – The
Chair’s Corner. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2013. <http://www.citytech.cuny.edu/academics/deptsites/hospitality/chairsCorner.aspx>