Week 12: Dessert production – yes chef, 2 tiramisu, 1 pavlova!

Last week was a different sort of week. It began with a day dedicated to frozen desserts – of all kinds – and transitioned into dessert production and plating techniques for the balance of the week. We then used the frozen desserts for most plates.

Tiramisu. I think this is Chef's demonstration, it's too perfect to have been mine, all the photos are starting to blur together. Essentially she plates a dessert and we had to copy it, EXACTLY.

Tiramisu.  This is Chef’s demonstration for plating this dessert. Essentially she plates a dessert and we had to copy it, EXACTLY, because that is how it will be in other kitchens.

But before I get into the week, I have to share a few realizations that occurred for me last week:

All of a sudden we became real pastry cooks still-in-training, but we have learned all the basic fundamentals of pastry and now we just piece them together on plates. My mind blown: we don’t need a demonstration anymore from chef? Pause. I guess we don’t…. We can read a recipe and generally know how to make it. That was one cool moment to process.

The other cool moment I had last week was leaving class one day and realizing I hadn’t really sat much, and my feet didn’t really hurt either. It’s been three months and my body has finally adapted to the physical demands. I know I am still and training and our days could easily be longer, but I feel ready for that now (unlike back in May).

We have just three weeks left and there is so much to do in that time. It’s overwhelming. For example, next week is our final practical exam, a blackbox exercise (sort of like Chopped on TV), we also are making a 3-tier celebration cake this week, then there is a big menu development project (written and execution) and then our final theory exam. Needless to say, I am going to take it one step at a time…

This blog has been helpful for me in reflecting each week and I’m glad I’ve kept it up. Some weeks are harder than others. I’m off topic here, let’s get back to last week. Dessert plating.

You know when you go to a nice restaurant and you order a dessert and it arrives at your table and you’re stunned at how delicious it looks? Well, we learned how to do that last week – the fundamentals of dessert plating.

Not only is it about making the desserts but it’s about the look, colour, textures, and flavours on the plate and each has to be balanced. It’s not usually done in a slapstick effort, these plates a PLANNED.

On Friday last week, we were told that morning we had to develop a dessert that day, with our partner, using what we have in the kitchen. That’s like going to the library and choosing one book. Where do you start? What do you feel like reading, what genre, what style? So I asked myself, what do I want to eat for dessert? Well, mousse came to mind, white chocolate, and puff pastry, and a fruit, a berry. My partner was pretty open to ideas and we polished the dessert together from there.

I was proud of how it turned out. Despite how amazing it may look, I still have some notes for improvement next time. Here is what we came up with:

Our dessert! Blueberry and white chocolate mousse, topped with white chocolate powder, a puff pastry stick filled with blueberry frangipane, creme anglaise sauce with fresh blueberry salad, and blueberry rodgrod sauce, with lemon lime sorbet. VOILA.

Our dessert! Blueberry and white chocolate mousse, topped with white chocolate powder, a puff pastry stick filled with blueberry frangipane, creme anglaise sauce with fresh blueberry salad, and blueberry rodgrod sauce, with lemon lime sorbet. VOILA.

The rest of the desserts we made were presented to us by Chef, and we had to replicate them. Exactly. Once we had practiced a plate, then we entered dessert service. Like a mock restaurant, and one Chef called our orders to each station, then we had to deliver the plated desserts to our other Chef for critique. We had about 10 rounds of service at each station, hearing calls like, “Station 5, 2 tiramisu, 1 pavlova”. Then we had to confirm we heard the order, and plate immediately. It’s a rush and feels awesome when you can plate it right and fast.

 

When you look at a plate in your kitchen, you likely just see it as a vessel for eating. Chefs view it as a canvas. Where should each component go to make it look the best that it can…?

The photos that follow tell the story of last week best, in no particular order, showing you how we prepared each component and then the steps to building some of the desserts.

This week we are doing a bit more of the same, each time adding in an extra dessert (tomorrow we are plating four different desserts). Just to make it more like a real menu. Stay tuned for those photos next week!

Lemon granita on it's way....

Lemon granita on it’s way….

Lemon granita. SO refreshing on a hot day.

Lemon granita. SO refreshing on a hot day.

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Making another sauce, I believe this was fluid gel, also for plating.

Making another sauce, I believe this was fluid gel, also for plating.

Temperatures are important in all uses of sugar. I love my little digital thermometer.

Temperatures are important in all uses of sugar. I love my little digital thermometer.

Oh yea, we learned how to measure the sugar concentration in sorbets, using this device - called a saccharometer. Sorbet only works when you have the right ratios of ingredients, hence this gadget.

Oh yea, we learned how to measure the sugar concentration in sorbets, using this device – called a saccharometer. Sorbet only works when you have the right ratios of ingredients, hence this gadget.

Making fruit coulis... another sauce for the plate.

Making fruit coulis… another sauce for the plate.

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Churning ice cream. It's not like watching a pot boil, at all, it's quite fun to watch...

Churning ice cream. It’s not like watching a pot boil, at all, it’s quite fun to watch…

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Learning to segment an orange, very refreshing task.

Learning to segment an orange, very refreshing task.

Making orange compote for the first time.

Making orange compote for the first time.

Ramekins! We used alot of these on souffle day.

Ramekins! We used alot of these on souffle day.

Chocolate souffle ready for baking.

Chocolate souffle ready for baking.

Souffles have to be plated immediately after baking time is done, or else they fall. They are quite rare on menus nowadays for this reason, the timing of getting these out to the customers is a challenge. Or else you have a fallen chocolate cake. Still tastes good, but it's not the same.

Souffles have to be plated immediately after baking time is done, or else they fall. They are quite rare on menus nowadays for this reason, the timing of getting these out to the customers is a challenge. Or else you have a fallen chocolate cake. Still tastes good, but it’s not the same.

Chef's masterpiece.

Chef’s masterpiece.

Not too bad for my very first plating...

Not too bad for my very first plating…

The first bite of my first chocolate souffle. SO DELICIOUS. Oh my....

The first bite of my first chocolate souffle. SO DELICIOUS. Oh my….

We made candied orange zest. It was easy and looks great on a plate, and its tastes great.

We made candied orange zest. It was easy and looks great on a plate, and its tastes great.

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My first plate and pairing. One student gave a presentation on wine pairings, so we happened to have wine  for this photo. Normally we don't drink in class :)

My first plate and pairing. One student gave a presentation on wine pairings, so we happened to have wine for this photo. Normally we don’t drink in class 🙂

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Brioche Bread pudding!! TO DIE FOR!

Brioche Bread pudding!! TO DIE FOR!

The "schmear" (sp?). How sauce is applied with sass on a plate.

The “schmear” (sp?). How sauce is applied with sass on a plate.

One garnish, fresh diced strawberry salad. Forever practicing knife skills.

One garnish, fresh diced strawberry salad. Forever practicing knife skills.

Our mise en place, ready to start service. All the sauces and garnishes and ice creams are close at hand, we need to plate in less than 5 minutes.

Our mise en place, ready to start service. All the sauces and garnishes and ice creams are close at hand, we need to plate in less than 5 minutes.

The Chef's plates, demonstrated, and now we mirror the plating.

The Chef’s plates, demonstrated, and now we mirror the plating.

Me and one of my plates! I managed to pause for a second to have a photo, the dessert service was a quick paced exercise.

Me and one of my plates! I managed to pause for a second to have a photo, the dessert service was a quick paced exercise.

How semolina pudding comes together.

How semolina pudding comes together.

How a brioche bread pudding comes together... Loved this dessert.

How a brioche bread pudding comes together… Loved this dessert.

Bottom layer of our dessert.... filled with orange soaked lady fingers.

Bottom layer of our dessert…. filled with orange soaked lady fingers.

Grissini baked off, ready for garnish. They could have a bit more colour, but they tasted good to me!

Grissini baked off, ready for garnish. They could have a bit more colour, but they tasted good to me!

One of the pistachio pavlova's after critique. Roasted strawberries, pastry vanilla cream fill, orange almond nougatine, caramel sauce, and basil pear salad.

One of the pistachio pavlova’s after critique. Roasted strawberries, pastry vanilla cream fill, orange almond nougatine, caramel sauce, and basil pear salad.

Here are our plates, waiting for critique from our Chef.

Here are our plates, waiting for critique from our Chef.

For dessert service we listed each order as it came in and created a code between my partner and I. It worked well, we could have been faster, but considering I am new, I was happy with how we did.

For dessert service we listed each order as it came in and created a code between my partner and I. It worked well, we could have been faster, but considering I am new, I was happy with how we did.

This was our dessert plan, as you can see it wasn't that simple at first and we made a bunch of changes. We had to think fast though, drawing it out really helped.

This was our dessert plan, as you can see it wasn’t that simple at first and we made a bunch of changes. We had to think fast though, drawing it out really helped.

How we stay organized as a team, write stuff down and check that list off when it's done. Love it.

How we stay organized as a team, write stuff down and check that list off when it’s done. Love it.

My week also ended in my third stage, at a high-end patisserie in downtown Vancouver. One of the top shops in town, in my opinion. I loved the vibe in the kitchen too, great people, energy, service and products.

Tarts ready for berries and filling.

Tarts ready for berries and filling.

On stage #3 I got to fill these beautiful tarts and stack the blueberries like marbles, delicately. I had to take a photo when I was done.

On stage #3 I got to fill these beautiful tarts and stack the blueberries like marbles, delicately. I had to take a photo when I was done.

During my stage #3, I juiced some more citrus, but this time with a SERIOUS juicer. This thing is like a drill for citrus. I was almost scared to use it, the black piece starts spinning before the orange is on it. I got the  hang of it, and my hand is still attached. I think you could juice a lot of citrus with this puppy in a short time.

During my stage #3, I juiced some more citrus, but this time with a SERIOUS juicer. This thing is like a drill for citrus. I was almost scared to use it, the black piece starts spinning before the orange is on it. I got the hang of it, and my hand is still attached. I think you could juice a lot of citrus with this puppy in a short time.

 

 

 

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