Pastry 2010: Adapting Latin Flavors, From Brazil and Peru to Cuba. David Guas. A Handsome, thick fellow with a spontaneous humour, perfect for a demo at CIA where the technical aspects aren't always seamless. But there is a camera hiding in the ceiling and screens dot the ceiling, so there are a lot of ways to look at the demo.
David has been a friendly, out going, engaging person for me at the conference. We sat next to each other at Redd the first night. He is the executive pastry chef at 4 restaurants in Washington DC. Deep voiced and soul-patched, he's a down to earth fellow from New Orleans.
He's making an egg yolk rich dough, putting it through a pasta machine to get it really thin. So thin you can see your fingers through it. Pinched to hold the same caramel found Alfajores.
Now there's a yucca "doughnut" made with queso fresca. Nicaraguan.
He's talking too fast to know how to spell the names of the
desserts. But they're delicious, strong on the canela (cinnamon, but
not the powdered cinnamon flavor.) side, sweet, heavy with caramel,
Next: Our Dessert Heritage as Inspiration, Part II: Tasting History with Stephen Schmidt. This would be a difficult presentation to encapsulate. I'll tell you a little about the room.
Surbhi Sahni sits to my right. Bright eyed, and pretty like a girl, Surbhi is earnest and humble. She's recording, on video-cam, much of the conference. Scott Peacock on my left. Scott and I are brethren. He's brought his own Mariages Freres tea. During the day he asks a few times for a tea pot filled to the rim with the hottest water any one can find. On the side he requests heavy cream. Then we carry these things around.
David Guas sits to Surbhi's right. He sits in a short sleeved, seersucker chefs coat. Hmmmm. We discussed this piece of clothing last evening. Many chefs fetishize their whites. We wear only a few pieces in our uniform, so we get picky about them. Working in the subtropics of swampy Washington DC, breathability is an issue.
Some people have sat next to the same people, in the same chairs, in every presentation. I've tried to move around, changing my perspective, my sitting partners. No time to be shy here. We are an intimate group, with previous alliances apparent. But, wonderfully, there is an openness. And few, if any, are conceited to the point of unfriendliness. We are here because we are open to sharing.
Last night, at dinner, there was a discussion begun about one of the presentations. We are a tough crowd, in a way, and some of the chefs felt that a presentation was disrespectful to pastry making as a highly technical art form. There are a number of European trained pastry chefs here. They work in America, but allegiances sway towards their highly technical training.
I don't have an answer for where we got to on that discussion, but I was happy these thoughts came to the surface aloud. In America we have a hard time with sticking to tradition. Perhaps because we are a new country. Perhaps because we were rebellious young. [I am currently watching the History Of New York, a PBS series.]
More on this another time. Your thoughts?
Points of interest in this presentation:
Blanc Mange as it was in the 10th century. "All dessert are Arabian in their origins." An early American "wine sauce" made with molasses, rose water nutmeg, butter, and flour. Indian Pudding. Calves' Foot Jelly.
I'm on a panel today, so I'll need to take a break from live blogging.
Thanks for reading!