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.
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:
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!
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.