The Eye For Detail

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

There are reasons I call myself a “baker,” and not a “pastry chef.”

Beyond the respect and station that I think comes with the “chef” title that I personally don’t think I’ve earned just yet, or the argument that “a chef is a cook who leads other cooks” and I haven’t had any cooks under my command for longer than a couple hours, there’s the fact that… well… I don’t think I’m quite crazy enough yet.

Let me explain- when I say “not crazy enough,” I mean that I still stand in rapt awe, wonder, and a little fear, of people who possess the meticulous attention to detail necessary to do certain things. Not just do them once or twice, but REPETITIVELY, and CONSISTENTLY. No cutting corners, no shrugging things off as “rustic” or “it’s meant to be like that”- if whatever these people do isn’t looking pristine, it’s unacceptable.
While I’m not exactly envious of the perfectionism these individuals have (my grandfather’s saying “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good’” comes to mind- and he was a brain surgeon) I am constantly in wonder of the level of PERCEPTION involved in noticing minuscule details.

Like many things in this world, an ideal case study for it comes from a certain mouse.

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“Lovers and Madmen…”

Good evening, friends and neighbors.
​Joe is about my age, but he’s been cooking for way longer than me- he’s a locally respected chef, running one of the best bistros in South Jersey. It’s easy to see why- watching Joe move through service, he seems to crackle with energy. He yells, swears, barks, laughs- never still for more than a moment.
I’m helping him out for a couple nights on his dessert line- towards the end of the day, he comes running up to me and drops a crate of tomatoes on the bench.

“Matt! Dude, you need to smell these!”


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“Voos Mahkt A Yid?”- Yiddish in Portland, and a Recipe for Hamantaschen!

     Good evening, friends and neighbors!​     Hope your Labor Day was fun and restful, and that all the kids are excited to be back in school.

     What? Weirder things have happened.     Case in point was MY Labor Day, spent in the kitchen of Crema Cafe + Bakery, my current employers.

As you might expect, business was VERY swift that day, and I was double-timing it around the kitchen. As the only pastry guy on duty that day, I had to make sure the front was stocked. Pastries, pies, cakes, pudding- whatever I could whip up with what was available that the customers would like.

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Here We Go Again

AAAAAND I’m back. 

Good evening, friends and neighbors. It’s been a while!

Between a few moderate life upheavals- a new job, shakeups at the new job, moving to a new apartment, making the new apartment habitable, and so on- and simply lacking the energy to write or revise possible entries, On The Bench has been…well, benched for close to the last month or so.

With things starting to settle down a bit though, and my new baking education service slowly gaining steam, I finally have the time and opportunity to sneak out to a friendly pub and write.

So where am I? What am I?


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Bannocks- For When You’ve Got To Hit The Trail Hard

     As she was running out the door for work Monday morning, Emily made a request:

“Hun, think you could make some bannocks that I can grab for breakfast? No raisins or anything- just plain is fine.”

“Yes, dear.”


As my father would say, “Those two words are the secret to a happy marriage.”
     Jokes aside, I didn’t mind. Bannocks are one of my staple recipes for a reason. They are a perfect blend of oatmeal cookie and biscuit that can be grabbed quickly, keep for a long time, and are an ideal breakfast with a quick schmeer of butter or jam.

If you don’t know what “schmeer” is, you need to be roughly 15% more Jewish.

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