Saturday, October 4, 2008

How sweet it isn't

Our first night on any station is always a bit unnerving and switching to pastry/dessert made for an interesting night. Our pastry Chef runs a tight ship, he laid down a set of guidelines that he reiterated, “I'm only going to say this once." Sharing the mid-sized pastry kitchen with us are three Level VI students, they handle two desserts and we deal with the other two. I decided to head into class a little early that day, in case there was a lot of prep to be done. Chef Alain was puttering around the kitchen, I said hello and asked what I could do first and he responded, "make simple syrup."

My other team members filed into the kitchen, made their introductions and we talked about our game plan for the evening. Chef outlined what had to be prepped for service in order of priority and we went straight to work. Chef has the most interesting accent and sometimes I have no idea what he is telling us which makes for interesting results. At times, he sounds German, South African, French, English, and Australian, and this is all at once in one sentence giving the listener a round the world aural experience.

On the dessert menu we are preparing a green apple sorbet with fennel foam and a tea-poached pear with pear bread and meringue finished with a chai Crème Anglaise. There are lots of components to plating both desserts and our list of “to-dos” was quite long. In pastry the only drawback is getting out of the kitchen last. Usually, we see a parade of our fellow students on Poissonnier, Entremétier and Saucier leaving and waving goodbye to us with smirks on their faces as we wait for our orders to come in. They’ve all been there so it’s now our turn to wait it out until the last patron has had their final course on the prix fixe menu.

Mid-way through our evening, Chef had a slight freak-out on two of the Level VI students – I was ready to hide in the walk-in refrigerator at that point. Chef was great with our little team, we just kept our nose to the grindstone and said, “Yes, Chef, No Chef.” We are no fools to tangle with a Chef who seeks perfection.

I’m sure the next few days in Pastry will be quite interesting – I just wish it came with subtitles.

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