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« How To Make Flaky, Buttery Pastry: Photos From The Class! | Main | cookie hint. »

14 April 2008

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I can't wait to hear about the new adventure. If you aren't going to name names here, drop a note so I know where to eat your babies. :)

you would think if you found a chef who cared about food quality and was in his or her kitchen every day tasting line cooks' mise, then that person would also appreciate tasting dessert every day, from a quality-control point of view. not so?

Well hello Lindsey,
Fancy having you here again. Guess I'm no longer under suspicion...
I have a feeling you can answer your own question from your recent experiences, no? If you don't like to eat something you probably won't want to taste it... Think about it from your own shoes-- what if you had to taste pork belly every day just to make sure everything was ok in the station it came from.
All chefs, sweet or savoury, have preferences. You once said you were happy you didn't really have to prepare savoury food in school. I said this made you a one dimensional cook-- which is very dangerous in this economy. Chefs should see a larger picture than cooks but many of them "become" "chefs" so fast, they don't learn anything about the sweet side, thus making them one dimensional, or shoemakers as the case may be.
My point here mostly concerns what it is like to be in a place less than part time/ consulting. And that quality control is impossible if everyone is absent... ~ Shuna

Poetry...
I respect what you do even more today than I did 2 days ago... Pastry is HARD!

Nice breakdown of the differences between sweet and savoury cheffin'.
(Would that make this treatment a cheffonade?)

As a shoemaker that has worked the line as well as having wrestled a paton or three making croissant-based sticky buns at a commisary bakery, I feel unqualified, but compelled to say 'you friggin' RAWK'!

That ain't just food you put out into the cold, cruel world...them's your babies. Only Mamma cares if they are dressed right. Only Mamma understands that they are too good for the slobs they end up with.

Only Mamma can sing the blues.

(On a side note, may I steal...umm....I mean 'use', that line: "those red flags are NOT waving you in"?
Priceless...)

Hello Dixon,

yes, please steal that line. It's all about the timing but you seem to have cadence down pat! I am not the author and either is my friend KG, but I stole it from here... Sharing is Caring. ~ Shuna

I got to this job interview and I told them I can do pastry too. I'm no Shuna, that's for sure, but I can get things done. The lady in front of me practically dropped her jaw and told me she has not known many savoury peeps that also do pastry (my turn to drop jaw). Anyhoo, where does that put me??

Maybe you and I are fence sitters, Roberto. Or one could say that to be a chef is not a noun but an action verb: the continuous action of learning. None of us will die knowing everything but it's important to take in the whole of the kitchen, not merely occupy that little corner of Chiefdom. ~ Shuna

nice soundtrack. I can almost see Erika Badu's wig blowing off at this very moment.

Nice breakdown of the traditional roles, but I'm still for a kitchen that doesn't differentiate between savory and sweet in the traditional sense. It is my dream that I hope one day transcends into the mainstream.

Some of us non-pastry chefs are also quite comfortable measuring ingredients to the tenth or hundredth of a gram.

You are right about real chefs needing to put aside their biased food preferences and tasting purely objectively. That is the same thought I had when I heard Tom Colicchio tell the 'water team' that salmon cooked sous-vide was just not a good texture... what the hell was that comment?!? If ever there was an untrue statement based purely on personal tastes, that was it. Aside from raw, sous-vide cooked is the only way I will eat salmon.

This post reminds me of an old newspaper article I once read on a pastry chef's cabinet. I cannot remember the name of the article or by whom, but it was based on the unfair traditional truth that the chef is Batman and the pastry chef is Robin. Maybe you have seen or read this or know where to find it?

Chad,

In a perfect world women would get paid for the same job as men, but it's 2008 and if we're not even There yet, I doubt I will see the equality of sweet and savoury chefs... I'm not a pessimist, just realistic.

With some salt & sugar cooking the methods are the same, but I disagree that our minds work the same way. I think I come to my plates in a more savoury than sweet way. {One of the ways is that I am looking to build flavor rather than produce it.} But I think both sides should stop thinking that the other is better or less than themselves.

I am always grateful I started on the line. There are a lot of sweet jobs I could not have even lasted after the first hour of trailing if I had not the mindset as well as the body moves of a line cook.

This piece is inspired by working in a kitchen where the chef is absent, in more ways than merely the obvious, in-you-face ways. I have been hired to make desserts but I can provide much more than that, if only someone were willing to train with me, for even one day!

These are generalized words. Not everyone is any one way. My hope is that more cooks, no matter what the protein they're working with, will seek out a broader education so they can grow up to see and taste and smell and create and plate a wider world of knowledge.

I do think it quite important for each of us to have a specialty because then we can pass on and grow more in one specific area. What we are losing with culinary school and the mentality that goes along with thinking you can "become a chef" FAST is the concept behind apprenticing: learning from someone who knows. Humbling ourselves in front of greater knowledge.

I neither want to, nor think it suits a kitchen or my industry, stand in the corner alone knowing what I know doing what I do. I want to teach and be taught, learn and be learned.

You're right about the fact that we are all basically the same-- well we can be in we choose to open our minds, and then our notebooks. ~ Shuna

This is great!

When I went to culinary school, one of the main draws to the school I chose, was that it contained a lengthy period in the bake shop doing production work on everything from morning breads and artisanal baking to a la carte pastries and cake making. It was something that I wanted to get to make myself a more rounded chef, and to be able to market myself.

When I began teaching, that school was beginning a dedicated pastry program. And I believe that the quality of the cooks being trained declined. No longer was there a focus on the ‘well-rounded’ cook. True, there were still components of both sides taught to the students, and all students went through the theory fundamentals and basics of the kitchen. But then the pastry students went one way and the savory the other.

I think everyone suffered. The savory cooks always complained that they didn’t want to do baking and pastry, and the pastry students didn’t want to do any savory. I tried my best to incorporate sweet and savory in my classes. We would make our own dough and tart shells, spin savory ice creams, and use other techniques that could be pulled into classic garde manger…anything to keep the interest in B&P.

It is sad that so many cooks go one way or the other and never realize that it is all the same. The same techniques used in both kitchens, and the same pride should be taken in the bake shop or on the hot line.

You are so much a better cook by being able to go get in the bake shop or to go assist on the hot line as needed.

Now that I am taking over a restaurant, it is my goal to take a very active part in the dessert menu. I want to be part of the planning, prep, and execution. And I expect my cooks to as well. Right now we have a bakery in the hotel that does all the desserts, some from scratch, and some from ‘the box’ so to speak. But they never see the service period of the restaurant, or the guest experience. And all plating is done by the FOH It is my goal to take the rocking line cooks that I have and get them to take an active roll in the production of a new dessert menu from prep to plating. And may we all be better off for it.

A blogger friend just referred me to this post, as I discuss my desire to go to culinary school in my blog. I think I am definitely in for a few surprises! I'm completely nervous, but very excited. I'm not looking forward to killing lobsters AT ALL...:(. I ended up studying English in college, but when I first started school, I planned on being a fashion designer. Then I discovered I didn't like how cut-throat and competitive it was, and I didn't think I'd fit in with the people very well either...but it seems that kind of attitude exists everywhere. Hopefully I'll be able to suck it up this time around! Anayhow, thanks for the informative post. I'd really love to hear more! I have one question before I leave; any kind of response would be very much appreciated :): Right now I am the blogger at an online foodie community/organization...other than that, I only have writing experience. I don't plan on going to culinary school for at least another year, but do you think it's a good idea that I get an additional job at a restaurant asap?

Thanks so much,
Sophie

Hi Sophie,

And all across the land, A RESOUNDING YESSSSSSS!!! was heard. ~sfl

I don't think I would be able to do my job right if I did not know all aspects of a functionning kitchen, all stations and lines. I remember when I first started that I had to do a mandatory time at the pantry and on the hot line.

Knowing how to navigate all situations and stations in a restaurant helps tremendously when they ask me to help with the pastry section, but it also put me many times in the position of "the one who knows to much"...and by the "the one" the savory chef meant "the woman" and I just so wanted to kick his cojones for thinking that.

Sitting down with a chef and looking over the menus (savory and sweet) so that we can bring his vision forward goes sometimes very well because they have the same passion and attitude, and sometimes there's too much ego brought forward, so that I have to step back thinking that I will be paid to just "sit there" and I hate that.

The day we'll be seen as equal in skills and on the food chain, I 'll be toasting Champagne with you! When a patron is talking to the ones in charge, exc. chef, sous and pastry chef and one asks who is who, I always feel like saying "I'm the one putting in the same hours but with the smaller number of 0s on her paycheck"...and that still gets to me, no matter how much I love my job...but again we can't do it for the money or we would be doing nothing at all. Eating it, living it, breathing it, without ever getting sick of it, that's when I knew I was on the right track!

you are inspiring

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