Culinary School, Week 4: Pies, dirty jokes and one grumpy aspiring chef

I’m not really sure where to begin, except by saying that this week’s class was unexpected. Chef asked me to assist with the pie lecture and demonstration, which I was very excited about. I studied up, prepared what I thought would be an informative lecture, and was ready for anything. Anything but him saying, “You go teach your group (of two people) how to make your pie recipe, and I’ll deal with the rest of the class, OK?” Um, yeah. I guess.

Then, during the lecture portion of the class, Chef made the most disgusting, crude, embarrassing sex joke during class. Maybe the culinary industry accepts this type of behavior because it’s male-dominated? Maybe I’m just so used to the way things are run at Disney, where you show respect for everyone at every level, even in culinary?

Whatever. On to baking! You can prepare a pie in about 1 – 1.5 hours from scratch. But, you cannot cook, cool and serve it in less than 4 or 5, which is what Chef was pushing for – he likes to cut class early each week. (which is another issue all together).

And the vanilla beans. I asked if I could use 2 vanilla beans for the pie recipe. Chef handed me what looked like vanilla beans, smelled like vanilla beans, but felt like two dead wooden branches. They were hard as a rock; petrified. I tried reconstituting in hot water – it started to work, but was taking too long. Chef’s assistant suggested we wrap in wet paper towel and microwave for 10 seconds. The beans turned to dust. Poof! Worthless.

It took my group about 45 minutes to prepare the apple pie – this included dough and filling – which I thought was pretty good. Despite the speed, I was feeling a little disgruntled about how the night was going; the dirty jokes, the change in plans, cutting class early, the crappy vanilla beans, were all adding up to a whole lot of grumpy. I wasn’t very patient, but was trying hard to be a good instructor to R and TR. I think I failed miserably and made sure I thanked them both at the end of class. Not only for doing a great job, but for not kicking my butt for being so impatient.

Long story short, nobody’s pies were really ready to take out of the oven, but we removed them anyhow and shoved them into the freezer. And even after 20 minutes in the freezer, they still weren’t ready. Doughs weren’t quite cooked through, and fillings had not set up – we all had big piles of runny pie samples.

Our team’s crust, however, rocked! It was almost like puff pastry it was so light and flakey. And if the oven temp had been just a bit higher, it would have puffed up even more. The apple filling? Totally sucked, but by no fault of R and TR. The pie just didn’t have time to cook through or set up.

Next week we focus on cream pies, then custards. And I’ve registered for fall classes already, where I finally get to cook savory foods.

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