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pastry chef recognition


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#61 KarenS

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 01:57 PM

I haven't replied in a long time- I was going through a burned out on computer stage. This topic is of a huge interest to me. I am a Pastry Chef- it has been a long, hard struggle. I still love what I do though.
Pastry Chefs don't get a lot of recognition. I think that the American public has just started to recognize Chefs of any sort in the past twenty years. It took me ten years to convince my own parents that I had a "profession". I believe that pastry is still very new to the US. For many years "dessert" was pie, cake, cheesecake, or ice cream. I guess a small step has been made- we added creme brulee to that list!
Proving yourself valuable has gotten me to where I am. This is a business, and if you make money people notice (or at least the smart business people). I worked in a hotel in SF for three years. When I first started all the banquet desserts were purchased outside, and there was no ice cream machine. I changed that and produced all of the banquet desserts. The food cost was lowered by 2 points in less then four months. That is a lot of money in a hotel with four food outlets! I was able to get the sheeter I wanted and the ice cream machine by showing my bosses $$$.
The ice cream machine paid for itself in less then a year. I worked very hard. I am now in Hawaii- I liked the idea of having a life and doing Pastry. I certainly gave it up for a long time.
I am the Pastry Chef for Neiman Marcus (kind of unique-the only one in the company). I was lucky to have a long term friendship with the Chef. He knew that if he fought for me I would make him money. I have made them money and now they realize that yes, they do need a Pastry Chef. I get equipment and recognition by making them money (not to mention perfume samples with brownies). Sure, I still make cake, pie, and cheesecake, but I also get to make other things too. I also am home by 2:00pm! Be friendly with your servers- give them treats too and answer their questions. Make them want to sell your desserts. (I run creme brulee as a special sometimes because the servers love it- that way I don't have to have it on the menu).

#62 bripastryguy

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 01:26 PM

I have a slap in the face for all the legitimate hard working pastry chefs out there...............

I have worked for the majority of my adult life in NY starting as a cook and delivery person up to pastry chef, a title I feel that is earned not just given, a term of respect.

I worked with a guy who claimed to be a pastry chef for some time. We decided to do a consulting project together for a new Belgian restaurant opening. The chef knew this guy (should I post his name and website?) and asked if he could help him get open. We agreed to the project, he knowing that he lacked the skill to pull it off , let me work out the details, menu and recipes. We went in do production, I gave him some recipes (basic almond tuile) and he proceeded to screw everything up... horribly. I had to fix everything he did-Molten cakes, cooked way too long, creme brulee still raw, almond tuile batter not mixed correctly (he threw everything in the mixer and hoped it would get smooth- oh God, this guy calls himself a pastry chef....

Needless to say I saved the day, but this was just the beginning. He got backing and asked me to open a store with him. He proceeded to walk around the store like a king, while I worked like a dog (I guess to make him look good). Eventually I caught him stealing money and the owners canned him. He is pretty resilient and a great fabricator of lies and truth manipulation. He is a media madman and has parlayed his lack of skill into a tv show deal, sauce and product endorsement and many media representations- he became his own PR.

This kills me. I kind of shrug from the limelight, but I feel I have the skill (I dont know everything) to pull off the job. I have respect for thos ethat have superior skill and show them respect, he in turn hangs with them like an equal, taking pictures with Francois Payard like they are old buddies, hes got no real skill to speak of except his ability to bounce back.

So how do we stop hacks and shoemakers from stealing our thunder?
Do I sound bitter or angry? Hell Yes!!!!!!!!!! as should all us that have had their press and respect stolen by these phonies......

Edited by bripastryguy, 26 August 2003 - 01:44 PM.

"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman

#63 alanamoana

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 09:20 PM

i always hope that karma (or just dues or whatever you believe in) somehow lets these people know that what they're doing is wrong. i don't necessarily think it is our job to tell them or badmouth them or whatever (i know i'd be singing a different tune if i were in your shoes bripastryguy!!!). it doesn't do us any good to stoop to their level. besides, people would just think we're jealous of them because they're doing so well?!!! :blink:

i remember going to a book store and browsing through the cookbook/baking section. there was a girl there thumbing through some books which i thought weren't the best of the selection. i asked if she was buying them for herself or for a friend and said i might be able to help her pick something out. she responded "oh, i'm a pastry chef", i replied that i was a cook (i was a pastry chef at the time, but i usually don't say this) too...i asked her where she worked to which she replied "oh, i'm at the california culinary academy right now, but i'm almost done". whereupon, i walked away without saying anything else. this gets my goat as well!!! you go to school to get the very basics...you don't come out of school as an executive chef or executive pastry chef, but some people think this is a given! some of these people "know everything" already and aren't able to hear anything else that is said to them. they'll figure it out sooner or later when they fail miserably in trying to lead a department of employees just like themselves!

this person you dealt with bripastryguy, sounds just like this. he knows everthing (my mom calls me "kia" for know it all)...and seems to be great at self promotion. as much as i'd like to know his name and where he works, i'm sure if i came across him i'd figure it out without knowing! put someone in a kitchen for an hour and have them separate eggs. you can tell right away who has skills and who doesn't!

yeah, it pisses me off!

#64 Michael Laiskonis

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:02 PM

I think there are people like that, who get the attention, though over time, fade out just as quickly. Fewer pastry chefs and more savory chefs come to my mind. And while I hate to perpetuate the idea of 'chef cliques', it's sometimes fairly easy to spot who has the respect of their peers and who doesn't, just by the company they keep. The public is easy- they'll tend to accept whoever is offered to them. Recognition from your peers is much harder, and for me, perhaps more important.

Getting burned by such people directly, sure, I can see getting a little miffed. But on the whole, while I think it is important to keep up with who the flavor of the moment is, whether deserved or not, you can't necessarily put yourself in head to head competition. If you think they are a hack, take the high road and simply transfer that to your work and resist going down the path of shit talking and whatnot. At a certain level, the chef community is really quite small, and I think alanamoana is right, there is a bit of karma in this whole business. But then again, it's not necessarily bad to have an opinion, and to voice it once in a while. Personally, I like to keep my 'enemies' to a minimum. With few exceptions, if I don't have something positive to say, I tend to keep my mouth shut!

Whenever I come across some cocky chef or cook, someone with a bit more attitude than talent, I just quietly think to myself, "OK, where will you be in five years... and where will I be?" Pondering that will usually make me feel much better!
Michael Laiskonis
Pastry Chef
New York
www.michael-laiskonis.com

#65 alanamoana

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Posted 26 August 2003 - 10:12 PM

well said!

#66 Rail Paul

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 06:35 AM

I worked with a guy who claimed to be a pastry chef for some time. We decided to do a consulting project together for a new Belgian restaurant opening. The chef knew this guy (should I post his name and website?) and asked if he could help him get open. We agreed to the project, he knowing that he lacked the skill to pull it off , let me work out the details, menu and recipes. We went in do production, I gave him some recipes (basic almond tuile) and he proceeded to screw everything up... horribly. I had to fix everything he did-Molten cakes, cooked way too long, creme brulee still raw, almond tuile batter not mixed correctly (he threw everything in the mixer and hoped it would get smooth- oh God, this guy calls himself a pastry chef....

Needless to say I saved the day, but this was just the beginning. He got backing and asked me to open a store with him. He proceeded to walk around the store like a king, while I worked like a dog (I guess to make him look good). Eventually I caught him stealing money and the owners canned him. He is pretty resilient and a great fabricator of lies and truth manipulation. He is a media madman and has parlayed his lack of skill into a tv show deal, sauce and product endorsement and many media representations- he became his own PR.

This kills me. I kind of shrug from the limelight, but I feel I have the skill (I dont know everything) to pull off the job. I have respect for thos ethat have superior skill and show them respect, he in turn hangs with them like an equal, taking pictures with Francois Payard like they are old buddies, hes got no real skill to speak of except his ability to bounce back.

So how do we stop hacks and shoemakers from stealing our thunder?
Do I sound bitter or angry? Hell Yes!!!!!!!!!! as should all us that have had their press and respect stolen by these phonies......

When you "decide to do something together" your lawyer should be in the room with a contract. That defines what you get paid, what you're expected to do, what he's expected to do. It may even define your intellectual property ownership (who owns what you create). Without that ticket, you are at their mercy not to F, F and F you.

This is very common in the software industry, where you expect to hire skilled people, pay them top dollar, and get the integrated code you need and both of you go on your merry way. It really shouldn't be any different in pastry for top performers, either.

Unless, as several people have suggested, YOU own the shop.
Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

#67 bripastryguy

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 06:36 AM

agreed, Michael well said.

I think maybe that might be the reason why my business is called

"Sweet Karma Baking Company"
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman

#68 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 08:17 AM

Bri, I love that name! Good choice.

#69 bripastryguy

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 08:21 AM

thanks Wendy.

We feel we (me and my partner) need to spread the word...............
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman