I sincerely hope you will feel much better in a few months, or even a few weeks. Sometimes these things strike us at first as insurmountable setbacks, but once the dust settles, we see that they are not necessarily. Maybe look at it not as the end of your dreams but as the realignment of your dreams. Keep this little thought in mind: You were diagnosed with LADA; your future customers weren’t.
You will need to watch your carbs, but your customers don’t have to. You still have your passion for baking and your desire to please your customers with that baking – I assume it wasn’t all to be for your own consumption – so I say go for it! You don’t need to eat a whole cupcake or a whole slice of pie or a whole dinner roll to do quality control. Once your bulk recipes are fine-tuned, you may not need to taste at all. Pro chefs take little tastes from little spoons. In my experience, those tiny amounts of food aren’t likely to mess up anyone’s diabetes. And you could even develop a sideline of diabetes-friendly goodies, giving you an edge over your competition.
Here’s something to keep in mind as well. Grant Achatz is an award-winning Chicago chef considered one of the leaders of progressive cuisine. When he was 33 and head chef at Alinea in Chicago, which Gourmet magazine ranked the best restaurant in America, he was diagnosed with late-stage cancer of the mouth. Heavy-duty chemo and radiation completely erased his ability to taste. But, with his staff tasting for him, he kept cooking and developing recipes and winning awards. (There was no guarantee he would ever regain his taste, but he eventually did.) I have watched cooking competitions where Michelin-starred chefs who have seafood allergies cook a dish containing seafood; they may or may not have another contestant taste it, and they’ve been known to win their round. Sam Talbot is a Manhattan chef and a Top Chef finalist and also has Type 1. It doesn’t have to mean the end of a dream.
I was trained as a chef but later lost much of my ability to smell and therefore to taste. (Not at all the same as the implications of LADA, I know!) The restaurant world wasn’t really for me anyway and I went into another line of work, but I still love to cook for my partner and for our friends and for community potlucks and things. I can’t smell my cakes in the oven or the garlic in the pan, and often I need to ask my partner to taste something, does it need more of this or more of that, but when everything’s on the table everybody says I’m an amazing cook. The people I cook for are none the wiser. They are like your future customers.
Diabetes of any kind is a huge challenge, but you obviously have an equally huge passion for baking. Despite your recent diagnosis, you still know how to bake. And you still love baking. And you will find ways to enjoy yourself what you bake. But remember your paying customers don’t need to know any of that. They just want to buy and enjoy the goodies you want to make for them.
[Sorry for the long digression, everybody.]