Burning Down the House!

My first lab at Johnson and Wales was Hot and Cold Dessert Preparation, which you can read more about in my recent post ‘Pies to the Eyes’. Towards the end of the class we had a chance to experiment with desserts prepared table-side.Our teacher demoed to the entire class how to make Bananas Foster and Cherries Jubilee.We all watched in amazement as our teacher tried to NOT singe his eyebrows off.

The Pastry Students Time To Shine…
At Johnson and Wales only the culinary students eat at and use the dining room for their classes.So, when it comes to making table-side desserts, the baking and pastry students do not normally get to practice the dessert in front of a live audience.Our class was different.Our teacher thouhgt that it was important for us to demonstrate making cherries jubilee and bananas foster in a dining room, like it was the real thing.Three other students and myself were selected to ‘perform’ these dessert infront of an entire dining room of culinary students.

The four of us gathered all of our dishes and utensils, scaled out all of the ingredients, and headed for the dining room to set up.I think we were all a little nervous, these were upperclassmen that this dessert was to be prepared for.Let alone the five or six teachers that stood, cross-armed, in the back on the room.

…Or So We Thought
There we two flambe tables set up in the dining hall. The first was for the bananas foster that my two friends were manning, and I was on the other accompanied by my partner.As we started to heat up the pans, my nerves went away.Cooking is what I love, and I just tuned out everyone else.Only a minuet into pouring cherry juice onto the pan the fire alarm suddenly started.I was so focused on what I was doing that I didn’t even hear the extremely loud siren.

My friends making the bananas foster had set the fire alarm off.One of them had accidentally burned the butter, forcing clouds of smoke into the classroom.We turned off the burners and started to file out of the building, followed by 200 plus of our fellow students.

Our Lesson Learned
Almost an hour later, we were allowed back into the building.By this time though, most of us were frozen from standing in a foot of snow with no coats on.Eventually the fire department left, and now we were left to clean.Unfortunately, it was time for class to finish and we never got a chance to make the cherries jubilee.

Nothing was damaged and thankfullyno one was hurt.But, now the teachers will never again allow baking and pastry students to do table-side service.Its unfortunate that the one and only time it was allowed, an accident happened and tarnished the reputations of baking and pastry students.


My partner took this photo of me preparing the cherries jubilee before the alarm went off.

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges