Thanx. I had no idea that there was BBS with a high % of pros.
To answer the second question, I got into cooking (forgive me, mom) because my parents were, how do I put this gently, lousy cooks. When I moved out to go to college and had a kitchen of my very own, I went nuts with cooking. I especially remember making cheesecakes weekly (yes, I know how to make them NOT crack), and a 10 or 12 piece set of cast-iron cookware with lids (I still regret getting rid of them as too amateurish).
Sadly, because I have been a candy maker for a couple of years, I fear that most of my B&P skills have evaporated. My biggest personal accomplishment was Sacher Torte. No, I have never had the genuine thing (although, if I weren't such a cheapskate, I would order one from Vienna). When I did a few recipes, I loved it, and went on a quest to find the best one. It was rich, chocolately, firm, and very (forgive the sexism) masculine and strong. I could walk around the kitchen muching on a piece and leave NO crumbs on the floor. I did, probably, a dozen and a half recipes until I found one that was entirely correct, and the main weapon in my personal armory. Concurrently, I attended CCA, and got another one of those supposedly 'secret' recipes directly from someone who had worked for the Hotel Sacher. In this case, however, the 'secret' recipe was virtually identical the 'perfect' recipe I had found. The secret, BTW, was not in the ingredients but the folding method. The main problem, IIRC, was that there was line of dark, dense batter at the bottom of the biscuit.
Lately, I have been on a rather heretical quest. It is now my contention that boxed cake mixes are just as good as a proper Genoise. By the time you use liqueur flavored simple syrups, stuffed the layers with fruits or cream or pudding or whatever, slathered the outsides with buttercream and pressed in huge handfuls of roasted nuts or chocolate caraque, the actual biscuit is actually pretty irrelevant. When I was trained to do Genoise, it was in a 10 qt Hobart with instructions: hey, how long do you whip the eggs? The training and rules were NOT applicable to those 5 qt home mixers, or, horror, using a whisk (which is how I ALWAYS do it at home).