Today is the last day of pastry techniques. As usual, I’m excited to move onto the next class and to learn with a new chef, but I’m simultaneously a little sad about leaving the current class. The last three weeks really have been a blur between the piping homework for pastry techniques, the actual class for six hours a day,homework for interpersonal communications, and that class twice a week. For the most part, the class seemed like a continuation of techniques we learned in baking tech.
One of my favorite parts of this class was not even part of class. I stayed after several times to assist Chef with desserts for one of the school’s restaurants. It was a bit awe inspiring and motivating to watch him work. It also helped me understand why Chef is the way he is. Many of his desserts brought along a story and with that story you could feel his love of pastry arts. With every small tale, my respect for him grew. He definitely pushed our class to do the best we could and didn’t “sugar coat” how we did. I think some people expect this, but I walked into the Culinary Institute of America fully expecting to experience both praise and rejection from chefs.
Anyway, for the most part, Chef was finishing and making sample plates for the students to follow in the restaurant on the times I stayed. Last week, I helped to make garnish for a creme brulee trio. One day my friend and I stayed after and helped Chef make frangipane. The next day he used a mold to form oak leaves out of the frangipane. Chef instructed me on the seeding method of tempering chocolate and we then dipped half the oak leaves in chocolate. Chef also made sample plates of his rich, chocolate Jackie-O cake, and also small fruit tarts.Yes, the cake is named after Jackie-O, and its because “Mrs. Onassis really liked it, and I made it I don’t know, 20 or 30 times for her.” Uhm, jaw drop…
I don’t think this is the end of me staying after to work with Chef however. I fully intend to continue to do so when possible. Each chef I learn from at the CIA I feel so honored to be taught by. Each one I want as a mentor and feel they have so much more knowledge I can draw from them.