baked oats green chile chicken enchiladas chow mein bakery-style butter cookies

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mark of the professional

I don’t think that expertise necessarily means everything you do is perfect. In fact, I think expertise means that you are able to maneuver through adversity and salvage/save/recover where amateurs and peons would crumble and whimper in failure.

Case in point, today in class Shan was showing us how to assemble a triangle torte. He didn’t like the cake recipe given in the book, so he substituted his own. While the cakes were baking, he commented to me that they shouldn’t be rising. After they had cooled and he released them from the pan, he noted that the texture wasn’t strong enough. Turns out he forgot to adjust for high altitude (he realized this while working with the crumbling cake as Allison, Katherine, and I were discussing our adjustments for chocolate chip cookies at elevation). As he transferred one delicate sheet of cake on top of the chocolate hazelnut praline filling, we could see it begin to break apart in mid air. My partner stood behind him, watching, with her hands clasped about her head in suspended horror. But he pieced it together and no one would be the wiser who ate a slice.

Later my partner said aloud, “You know, Shan, I’m so glad to see that you screwed up because it makes me feel better about how often I screw up.” The difference is that Shan is a professional – even his screw ups turn out.

We made more petits fours tonight, but these were more along the lines of what I always considered petits fours – cake layered with filling.

spreading the batter for chocolate chiffon cake

glazing the layered cake squares: we did half raspberry and half orange

decorated with jimmies

I really enjoy class and am learning not just how to make pastries, but also a little about how to run a business in the food industry. I’m learning from some of the other students – most of whom are interested in starting their own business. Kate, our assistant, asked if I was interested in staging with Chef Will. It’d be so cool and he is not only incredibly knowledgeable, but fantastically upbeat, enthusiastic, and nice. Allison thinks I should convert my basement into a professional kitchen. Oh – that’s just a $75,000 investment… I wondered if I would get sick of cooking for a living – but I’m never tired after my class, I’m always energized and excited and pumped when I get home.

Stainless steel > aluminum. Use acetate. Reduce sugar by as much as 25%. Freeze dough. Don’t freeze buttercream.

We got another note on our door today, taped about two feet off the ground. It’s covered in scribbles with nary a legible letter. It’s from Lars (the youngest) and it’s adorable.

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