Yesterday’s post on Tartine’s bread wizard Chad Robinson, reminded me of one of the core stories I enjoy and often tell when I give presentations on my work. The story came from the inspiring Tasmanian woodworker and sculptor Gay Hawkes who was renown, when I was getting started, for her reinterpretation of the bush vernacular furniture of the (perhaps mythical) colonial chair bodger Jimmy Possum.
Gay used to say that the ultimate craft was bread baking.
The baker starts in the wee hours of the morning when everyone is asleep and the world is dark and foggy.
She starts up the ovens, gets the chill off her bones and unwraps the basic tools of her trade.
The ingredients are simple and primal – flour, eggs, water, yeast, salt, oil.
When they are mixed, there is an alchemy which transforms and synthesizes the simple ingredients in extraordinary ways.
The work requires strength, care, patience and risk.
The results are delicious, varied, and lie at the very core of human culture.
By sun-up the work is done, the shelves are laden.
When the bakery doors open there is a flood of hungry customers who demolish the baker’s work with gusto and joy.
The baker cleans the tools of her trade, closes shop and goes home to rest.
There is very little waste.
Early in the morning the baker wakes and goes through the whole process once more!
With perhaps a subtle shift in recipe or process to test a new idea or improve an already proven formula.
Isn’t this the essence of CRAFT?