Our last official week of curriculum is complete and it sure was a fun one. Our class time this week covered plated desserts, which was a culmination of many recipes and techniques we’ve learned over the previous months along with education on constructing a visually appealing plate and considerations for creating desserts in a production setting. Most days we spent making tons of individual components and then would meet as a class in the afternoon to put everything together and play around with different platings for each dessert. I think the most notable takeaway for me was to be deliberate about how things are placed on the plate, not only for the look, but because the layout impacts how a person eats the dish. We made some really fun and unique textures and visual components, which ultimately are the biggest advantage of plated desserts. A restaurant pastry chef has the ability to manipulate temperatures, textures and techniques in a way that’s impossible to do when selling a pastry from a bakery case. When making and plating to order, pastry chefs have the ability to serve things like souffles, pair hot and cold components together, and add garnishes that make the dish special. That type of thoughtfulness and control over the experience is what I love the most about plated desserts. Of course I didn’t do nearly a good enough job of capturing all of our beautiful desserts, but a few photos is better than none.
We had a jam packed week of activities outside of class and it’s almost as if they crafted a week aimed at the things I love. On Monday we joined the culinary students and made a trip up to a farm in Sebastopol. We spent the morning with Libby from Beet Generation Farm, learning about farming, how she built and sustains her business (including making pasta from excess produce!), and picking vegetables for our lunch. We then spent some time with Hilary, who owns the property, while she taught us about raising goats and making cheese. We also got to spend some quality time with brand new baby goats and a little calf, which was arguably everyone’s favorite part of the day. By the early afternoon we made it back to the house to cook lunch together, using almost entirely products grown and raised on the farm. Not only was it such a fun day, but being a chef means having an immense appreciation for food and I found it incredibly eye opening and inspiring to (literally) get back to its roots.
We also had two separate afternoon workshops at school this week: cheese and wine. It’s seriously like they singled out the things I love second and third to pastry. Fortunately, as a pastry chef you could be called upon to pair wines or to create a cheese course so a solid understanding of each is important. Despite being a borderline professional cheese eater and wine drinker, I learned a ton about how cheese is made, how to use different types of cheese in the kitchen, and how to classify and describe characteristics of both cheese and wine.
We’re now in the midst of the bakery day grind and I couldn’t be happier! To cap off our time in class, we’re hosting a “bakery day” at school this Friday for family and friends. As a class, we put together a menu of items to be plated and passed at the event and a menu of items that are set out for guests to take home with them. This gave us an opportunity to showcase recipes and techniques that we particularly loved and gives us a taste of what it takes to organize and bake in larger quantities. We’re spending the entire week prepping and baking so that come Friday we have a delicious spread to show off. I love having a deadline and powering through a to do list so this is about to be my best week yet.