Sugared & Spiced

pâtissière in paris, now shanghai

Some thoughts / 一些想法

with 11 comments

I haven’t written about this on Sugared & Spiced yet, but it’s been 6 months since I got back to working full time in a professional pastry kitchen.

還未在Sugared & Spiced上寫過這件事情,不過我回到專業甜點廚房全職工作,已經六個月了。


A lot of people were surprised about this decision. It certainly seemed like I was living the ideal life – teaching pastry classes and writing on Sugared & Spiced was the perfect combination, and I also had the flexibility to travel whenever I wanted. Why would I quit this to go back to the professional kitchen, where it’s nothing but intense physical work, and getting paid only a fraction of what I was earning working for myself?

Because that, for me at the time, was too comfortable.




I was working in Paris for about three years, which is very short as far as a patissier career goes. Sure, what I had in my pocket was adequate for teaching classes and perhaps even for opening a shop, but it didn’t feel “enough”. For the past two years in Shanghai, I was making pastries mostly for classes, which were too simple compared to the ideas I had in my mind. So I started to look for opportunities that can allow me to, simply put, level up.



So when such an opportunity presented itself, I pushed myself to grab it.



If you follow me on my Wechat account (id: sugarednspiced), you might remember a message I sent out 6 months ago: “I decided to push myself out of my comfort zone again”. Though I didn’t explain it at the time, it was referring exactly to this decision of going back to working in a professional kitchen.

不知道你還記不記得我半年前曾經在微信公眾號 (id: sugarednspiced) 上發過一條信息… “最近做了一個決定,再次把自己輕輕地推出舒適圈” 所指的,就是回到專業廚房全職工作。




Now,  it’s been half a year since I got back to the kitchen grind. During the past 6 months, there have been many instances that reminded me of those intense days back in Paris…



For example, when I see the clueless ways our interns hold a piping bag,  I remembered that I was once like them as well. I thought back to the days when I stayed after work to practice different piping methods, one plate after another, repeating hundreds of times until they became part of the body memory. Now everything seems so easy.




And while we were preparing for Christmas recently, I fondly remembered that one year when my colleagues and I churned out over 6,000 Christmas logs, all wearing Christmas hats and working till the wee hours of the morning.




When I bike to the metro these days, I remembered that while working at one Parisian pastry shop, I had to wake up at 2:30am everyday and bike across the Seine River in the dark and often in the rain. Instead of feeling reluctant, I was actually looking forward to starting work. It was at that point, if I remember correctly, that I realized that pastry really must be my true love.




Along came memories of being yelled at and rushed by my senior colleagues “allez allez vite vite vite” (let’s go let’s go quick quick quick!). “Hurry up” became such a habit that I maxed out even the speed of walking and doing dishes. Now it’s my turn to rush the more junior staff on the team, but I can only say that my tone of voice is much, much softer than those of my Parisian colleagues…

還有當年被前輩們不停催促,allez allez vite vite vite(快一點快一點!),連走路和洗碗的速度都快到要飛起來。現在輪到我來催促團隊裏的同事們,不過我的口氣比法國同事們要來的柔和太多太多了…



From an intern to where I am now, it’s been a real journey.





The kitchen environment and working culture in Shanghai are completely different from those of Paris, and frankly, there’s a lot for me to adapt to. Furthermore, in Paris I was mainly just following instructions, but now I have to help manage the team, order ingredients, check inventory, sort out banquet event orders etc. In a short six months, I’ve seen and learned a tremendous amount.



My day typically ends with finishing a banquet of hundreds guests, then taking the metro and biking home. Everything seems to be extra clear as I bike through the crisp evening breeze. It would be a lie to say that I don’t feel physically tired, but when I think about something that I’ve learned during the day, even just tiny details like the name of an edible flower, or a new way of whipping meringue, it is ultimately satisfying.



To be honest, this job is not exactly what I had imagined, and of course not everything’s pink and rosy. I simply try to keep in mind the reason behind taking this job, and don’t intend to let these minor hiccups bother me.



Nowadays I spend about 9 to 12 hours at work, not including the 2 hours of commute. Compared to the much  more intense kitchen life in Paris, the hours here are actually not bad at all, but one major difference is that while back in Paris I could relax completely after work, now in Shanghai there’s a lot more for me to take care of – writing on Sugared & Spiced Wechat account, teaching pastry classes, collaborating with brands, and of course, allocate time to family and friends, as well as leaving some blank space for myself.

現在的我,每天大概有9~12個小時在工作地點,再加上2小時的通勤,剩下的時間除了吃飯睡覺之外沒多少空閒了。非常忙碌。可能是人生最忙碌的一段了。雖然以前在巴黎廚房工作節奏比現在要更緊湊,不過下班後可以完全放鬆;而現廚房工作結束後還有很多事情要處理,比如微信公衆號的內容、Sugared & Spiced的活動、當然還要騰出時間和家人朋友相聚,以及留給自己一些空白。


It became clear that I had to cut down many things that I used to do, like attending brand events, restaurant openings, and social gatherings. I did feel a sense of “missing out” at the beginning, but slowly I came to realize that not much in life is absolutely necessary. Priorities naturally became clear, and after trimming off all the fluff, days actually became even more fulfilling.

空閒時間變少了以後,必要地修剪掉了很多之前的習慣。比如一些活動邀約,比如一些朋友聚餐。一開始覺得可惜,但漸漸發現其實沒有太多是 “必不可少” 的。事情的優先性自然地被整理出來,每天都非常充實。


Somewhat surprisingly, I’m reading a lot more since starting the full time job. Instead of passing time on the cellphone during the commute, I started bringing books on the road and finished reading a dozen of them over the past few months. It feels like having opened a few new doors.

令人有些驚訝的是,開始全職在廚房工作後, 我閱讀的時間反而增加了。因爲不想把每天在地鐵上的時間浪費在滑手機上,我開始帶著書出門,幾個月下來看了十幾本書,感覺又開了幾扇門。


I often notice that I hum to myself on the way home, and just from that, I know I’m on the right path. I genuinely feel grateful for having this opportunity to learn and grow.



Due to time constraint, pastry classes and updates on Sugared & Spiced are rather sporadic at the moment, but thank you, thank you for still reading :)

因爲全職工作的關系,過去幾個月甜點課程少了,微信公衆號以及部落格也更新的比較零碎松散,很多自己想寫的東西其實沒有時間整理出來。謝謝你在這樣的時刻仍然閱讀著Sugared & Spiced。


I plan to do this for another while, and hopefully by the end of it, I will have something pretty cool to share with you.



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Written by sugarednspiced

January 7th, 2018 at 2:15 pm

11 Responses to 'Some thoughts / 一些想法'

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  1. All the best to you!


    7 Jan 18 at 2:37 PM

  2. Thank you :)


    11 Jan 18 at 3:54 AM

  3. Always love to read your posts as you inspire me continuously! Hope you are well. What books have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?


    7 Jan 18 at 3:28 PM

  4. Thanks Saloni :) I read a mix of pastry-related and other books…currently trying to read Terre des hommes but struggling a bit with the French.


    11 Jan 18 at 3:54 AM

  5. Another source of inspiration! Thanks for it, for all the previous ones, and for all the future ones! All the best to you in 2018, incl. many new learnings!


    7 Jan 18 at 4:22 PM

  6. So glad to know this is a source of inspiration. Thanks for letting me know :)


    11 Jan 18 at 3:52 AM

  7. What a wonderful tribute to your soul in baking. I’ve loved reading your story for many years, and can’t wait to see where this takes you. Bravo for being true to yourself, for pushing, and creating, and giving us such joy.

    Sue B

    7 Jan 18 at 5:37 PM

  8. Thank you for your support over the years :) Please keep reading.


    11 Jan 18 at 3:52 AM

  9. Beautiful words. And love your attitude to life!


    8 Jan 18 at 10:40 AM

  10. Thank you Danielle!


    11 Jan 18 at 3:51 AM

  11. I am a french girl living in Shanghai since more than 3 years and i found your blog randomly many years ago when i was still living and studying in france. i tried many restaurants and new food thanks to your blog when i went 6 months to shanghai in 2013 to write my essay about street vending (sadly almost all gone today). i went back to france, and was very happy to see your articles about places in my own country, this was refreshing to see another point of view, not from a tourist but from a foreign professional. and then i moved to shanghai after study, happily discovering that you were coming back too.

    i don’t write comments usually but this article remind me a little bit of home, when we learn since we are kids to never let someone telling you what to do – even if we take it too far sometimes ! anyway, have a great time enjoying life as you choose to, and much happiness being “libre de faire ce que tu veux” for 2018 !


    16 Jan 18 at 5:52 AM

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