I swear I saw his eyes like a red laser burning through those plastic-wrapped pieces of flaky dough sitting among a few other items left on the sheetpan waiting to be discarded.
This classmate of mine was one of two who took charge of our class since day one. Having worked about four years in restaurants, he left his home-state Florida for New York for our program. I had learned much from him because prior to this I had never stepped foot in a commercial kitchen. So something as trivial as Bill checking the pull-sheet and setting up the ovens and salamanders for the day intrigued me. He made me realize my fillet knife blade was a flexible one even before our chef-instructor did. Bill's greatest strength - my own observation - was in seafood, particularly shellfish, shucking oysters since he was four. I had even suggested that he get himself into Le Bernardin for a trail or even better, his externship.
But on that day, with just two lessons into our pastry module, I could sense his dislike for baking.
My take on this is simple. If you are good, you are good. You cannot say you want to be a chef, yet have no interest in making a cake, a tart, or a soufflé. Especially a soufflé (but that's for another day). The pâte brisée that day drew a line for a few of my classmates as much as it broke down a barrier in others. I enjoyed pastry work because it requires a kind of precision very different from that of cooking. Besides, at that point in our program, I have had enough of pots so thick and heavy I have trouble lifting them even when they are empty. I have had enough of all the rough handling that caused my hands to tremble and not write as beautifully.
So I went home that evening with six portions of pâte brisée for the freezer. And we had quiches and tarts - both sweet and savory - for the following months. Yes, I kept them that long despite having read in books to use them within three weeks or so. They were good and we are still alive.
Here's a good recipe for you to try - Jacques Pépin's country apple galette. I would suggest that you execute the recipe once, paying attention to the pastry part, and if you like the final outcome, find another day to make three or even four portions of the pastry, wrap them up individually with label and date, keep in the freezer for future use, thus improving your dough-handling and galette-making techniques.
To succeed at one's first attempt is pure beginner's luck. Luck, in turn, favors the prepared.