Wax On, Wax Off

By KIEU TRAN, NYC: Wax on, wax off. Mr. Miyagi may have taught the karate kid the tenants of hard work and practice, I learned it from my family. My grandma has worked until 2 a.m. for as long as I can remember. My parents work overtime to provide everything and more for my siblings and me.

I was “lucky” enough to only dance with the idea of hard work. I was expected to go to school and do well. Simple enough. But it wasn’t hard work, it’s like a dancer twerking as their audition to get into Julliard. Mediocre, at best.

This past week, I worked hard. I started my first week at The Modern. New environment. New recipes. 30 hours. And I enjoy every moment. At The Modern, we earn our recipes. I’m expected to chase after what I want to learn. I spun ice cream for the first time today. I’m also getting some whipping cream muscles. The people there are wonderful, always willing to teach and work as a team. Everyday when Chef Marc Aumont comes in, he shakes his pastry teams’ hands and greets them. How can you not love working there?

Aside from work, I’ve been balancing school. I am on the bread section. I’ve learned how to make croissants and Challah. (The “c” in Challah is silent by the way.)

Straight from my Saturday morning class, I raced to volunteer at the James Beard Foundation. It was an amazing experience. I got to plate, prep and work in a culinary line. I got to touch a truffle in real life. Best of all, I was in the home of greatness. Being there made my 17-hour work day worth it.

Every day this week, I came home tired and my feet ached. But with every day, I learned something new. I tested and worked myself a little harder. I am living my dream. All those things are worth it.

I’ve learned that working hard isn’t considered hard work if you love what you do. Hard work to me is giving my all, while chasing after what I love. I love what I do and I’m so grateful to be here.