By Yanling He
Professional Pastry Arts student
in Campbell, CA
“We must cultivate our garden.” — Voltaire
Five years ago I was on a road to become an engineer.
I graduated from university with Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering degrees and easily landed a job in a software company due to the high demand in tech industry. But then I started wondering what was waiting for me ahead: working 9 to 5 to build someone else’s dream while being just a bolt, a high salaried bolt…?
“Do I really want this?” I asked myself. “What will I do with this money? Get more food? Clothes? Entertainment?” I found myself thinking about Edward Norton and his famous saying, “We buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.”
I decided to get off this road and to take my time to understand myself. I started traveling to the national parks, alone with my camera. Driving countless hours, walking countless miles and shooting countless photos.
Every time I looked through the view finder and played with light, colors and composition, I remembered how I used to draw, paint and craft my imaginary world back when I was a little girl. I love painting, photography, computer graphics and all sorts of art, but I never pursued any of it seriously. I love expressing myself way more than advertising or selling myself, but I don’t know how I to live my life by just doing art.
One day I arrived in a small town far north in Washington. It was so unlike any big city with their famous shops and chain restaurants. Every shop in this town was unique. There was the best organized bookstore I’ve ever seen and the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted. I was surprised by the town’s slow and fine lifestyle. It made me realize that if we just hurry in life and chase the wrong things, we’ll neither be satisfied nor enjoy our lives. If people never think about what they eat, they’ll also never think about what they fill their minds with, – this is why doing art is hard.
I decided to start learning art, BUT, culinary art! The most basic and best applied art. I enrolled into the International Culinary Center’s Professional Pastry Arts program. I find it very relaxing and simple, and it feels like meditation. I might not necessarily be interested in the techniques as much as figuring myself out while doing the things I love.
I have no idea where this road is taking me, how long or how hard it’s going to be, but I am enjoying every moment of it. I know there must be people with similar feelings. Some of us take steps, while others hold back. I decided to write for ICC’s blog and share my own stories as well as those of my friends and people with passion and love for food, art and life. Let’s put more nutrients in our bodies and minds!