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  1. Here's what's left of the lunch gang. We all agreed Chinese food just makes us want to take a nap... Here's a shot of everyone's finished pieces in the lunchroom. Here's another shot of mine... I thought I'd be artsy-fartsy and get the mirror image effect... There's usually some time to digest after lunch, return phone calls, and wander a bit, and check out some of the displays at Albert Uster -- here's a wedding cake. What I notice, and like best about this cake is the green flow-y part. Its sugar... and I'm curious as to how it's done. stay tuned, because I ask Chef about this, and he demos this for us later in the day. Here's also a gorgeous cake done by Collette Peters... if any of you have the AUI catalog, then you will recognize it. It is photographed beautifully with a bride standing behind the cake... you get the idea... what surprised most of us was how small this cake actually was. On the wall behind the cake was an electrical outlet... I turned the cake so it wouldn't show up in the picture. A classmate purposely took the pic with the outlet IN the shot, just to show the relative size comparison. The cake really wasn't much more than about 18 " high. when you see it in the catalog, you think it's 3 feet! Back in the classroom, Chef warms up one of the leftover red tubes, under the heat lamp for a few minutes. Our classroom is fairly cool, so it really needed to get the chill off first, before it warmed enough to do this... Here's also another way of making bubble sugar... with crinkled up parchment. and a close-up: Both the methods shown here in this thread have been discussed elsewhere in this forum. Next up... blowing the magical sphere...
  2. Yesterday, Brian poured some clear sugar into a funny looking mold... The mold had been made from little cubes, like dice, stuck into silicone. Well, today we needed those little cubes: When we put together our piece, we use these little cubes underneath the base, so as to make picking up/moving the piece much easier. Smart, no? Chef adds some ribbons to his piece, and it begins to come together. with a bit of the bubble sugar added as well for texture He also adds some of the broken pieces of straw sugar around the base... but I can't find the photo of the finished piece at the moment. Trust me, though, it's great. ------------ Now, WE have to go back to our stations, and do our version. First, most of us glue the bases together, get the tube attached... so far so good. Then comes the ribbon work. Many of us struggle. As Chef goes around the room, you can overhear each of us say..."you make it look SOOOO easy!" which of course, he does. Ed has stopped putting her trash in my bucket, and Devlin keeps coming over to my table to see how I'm doing. Drew can be heard uttering a few obscenities, well, actually he's not the only one. (And David keeps annoying Burghardt, or is it the other way around? "ok you two: we're going to have to split you up if you don't BEHAVE!) seriously, though, we are really having fun, and getting in to this whole thing. The lunch order list goes around, today will be Chinese. But we practice and practice and come out with some pretty darn good-looking ribbons. Daniel has done this before: here's his ribbon edge and how his turn out... wow! Dan's look fantastic! We are also given a leaf mold, so I make some white leaves to tuck around my rose. I fool around with ribbons of different stripes, and although they don't match, I pick my best ones for inclusion in my piece... and here's how my 'showpiece' turns out: Here are close-ups of mine, for detail:
  3. Next up: RIBBONS! These are so beautiful, and Chef makes them look soooo easy, but let me tell you, they are tricky. Once you make one though, and it's a 'good one' -- ribbons become addictive. You just keep wanting to make more and more, in lots of combinations. Ribbons begin by pulling the sugar to give it some opaqueness. We used both red and white (clear pulled until it was white). Chef pulled two lengths of white, and one red, all approximately the same size, and temp (important!). He sticks them together, side by side: then he adds one more length of white: then he pulls it once, doubles up to get 2 red stripes in the mix. THEN, he pulls again, and adds the length back on itself one more time, now making 4 red stripes in the white ribbon: now, you and I might think that's enough... but lest you not believe Chef Rohira is a master at his craft.... yes, he doubles it AGAIN! and then he finally starts to pull/make his ribbon: he pulls and slides his hands ever so smoothly along the length... sometimes it gets VERY long... and he cuts it and cools it quickly ( to give better shine)by running it on the marble and with a quick turn of the wrist we have a gorgeous ribbon curl: Little tendrils can be made with the leftover... just pull a very thin strand... the red and white stripes turn pale pink when stretched to the max and wrapped around a rolling pin for shape ----- Here, Chef takes the leftover together, mostly pulled opaque red, along with clear (unpulled) red and proceeds to pull: to make a beautiful striated pattern. The shine is incredible!
  4. Here's the bubble sugar we made: here you see Amanda pulling back the silpat from the parchment covered with bubble sugar: In this batch, the-lovely-Amanda flecked a bit of red coloring with the tip of her knife onto the sheetpan sprinkled with isomalt crystals. here's a closeup -- you can see the pattern left from the silpat:
  5. After yesterday's post detailing isomalt, a little ahead of schedule, I realize I haven't mentioned the actual recipe or process for the isomalt. It's quite simple, actually: just 10:1 isomalt to water. In class, we make a batch with 1000 g of Venuance crystals, putting 100 g of water in the bottom of the pot first. Dissolve slowly over low heat, keeping the sides clean as usual. Once it comes to a boil, turn up the heat and cook until 170 degrees C.
  6. Now we put together our second sugar piece of the class. We use the poured dark purple triangles from yesterday, along with the 'orange jellies' made by Brian and Amanda. We will attach the red curving tube to the two bases, and will then decorate! Chef tells us we can use the pot of boiled sugar as 'glue', as well as using small bits cut from a clear blob under the lamp, kind of like a glue stick. The orange jelly will sit on top of the purple triangle, and then the red tube will be stuck on top of that. In order to attach anything to a smooth surface, it's wise to 'roughen the surface up' -- here you see it in the middle of the inside curve of the tube. We've just taken a hot knife again and scored it a few times. Chef takes a rose and glues it on, and blows it cold: Here's the side, or underneath view:
  7. Handy dandy Brian is not feeling well today. The air quality isn't very good, and his allergies seem to be kicking up. He and Amanda have been busy cooking several pots of isomalt, so we have more red to make ribbons with, and 'blobs' of clear, that we will be later blowing. Chef begins class with getting yesterday's red sugar out of the tubes we poured. I have already earlier in this thread detailed that procedure of scoring, and Steve also weighed in about how no technique is the only, or right, technique. Very true. Chef cuts the ends, continuing the score line we made yesterday, and easily slips off the tubing (throw away, can't re-use of course). He begins to pull a few of yesterday's "parts" like the base, the rose, etc. I ask about the rough end of the finished red circular tube. Chef says if you have a not-very-good (aka ruined edge) knife, you can heat it on the torch, and cut the end off. We watch him do this, as the sugar smokes when he touches the hot knife to it. As Brian and Amanda help to set up the bases that were made yesterday, I ask Chef to also review the rose again for us... and he does so:
  8. Day Two: I decide to leave at 5:50 am -an extra 15 minutes earlier this morning, so that I can work on roses. Good thing I had those extra minutes, as there were 4 different accidents on the Capital Beltway, not getting me to AUI until 7:25... oh well... no time to do roses, if I want to have breakfast! After sitting in the car for more than 90 minutes, I decide breakfast is more important. As I walk into the classroom to put my notebook at my station, one or 2 classmates are already there, upfront with Chef and Brian. Brian calls out to me... "NO MORE MUESLI, Lee!!! -- We ran out!" No one else seemed to understand what the hell he was talking about. Ha ha, very funny Brian. I am smarter than that. Clearly he has stayed up too late, reading this thread, (or else he got up extra extra early)... and read how I just LUV the muesli for breakfast...it's what I crave. Now, I just KNOW there is an ENORMOUS warehouse, just behind the classroom, where there is probably 3 tons of muesli, stacked up on pallets 50 feet into the air, just waiting for addicts like me. "Very funny Brian. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have my breakfast!" Here's the morning's lineup and a close-up of the muesli. Mmmmmmm...it's PINK! looks like they added some strawberry puree to the mix today. YUMMMM Here we are getting our caffeine fix before class starts This morning Chef Rohira gathers us together, to sit and talk about design for a while. Brian and Amanda are busy in the front of the classroom doing kitchen prep for the day's work ahead. Chef tells us that many people spend much time on the physical aspect of constructing a showpiece, or centerpiece in sugar, BUT they often DON'T spend enough time conceptualizing and thinking through the design. He talks at great length about all the factors one needs to take into consideration... theme, form, shape, size, color, the effect or 'wow factor', the uniqueness of the piece. It's a great exercise in thinking, understanding, discovering what you want to do... how to visualize it, how not to limit yourself and your thinking. Chef says that most people rush to the physical part of executing the sugar piece (or any piece, really, chocolate, a cake design, whatever you might be doing). He explains to us that first we must understand the emotional part, then the intellectual part, before we can justly (and wisely) proceed to the physical part. HAVE A PLAN. We talk of elements of design, the focus, the flow or movement of a piece, and how it all has to make sense, in order to be successful. But also to think outside the box -- not to be limited or restricted by your physical capabilities. That's the one thing I really take away from here: not to be limited or restricted by your physical capabilities btw... thanks, Chef Things like form, texture, color, size, realistic vs. abstract,... hell, we even start talking high school math: things like the golden ratio; and high school art class comes back to me also: ockham's razor and the rule of thirds. Color, physics, wavelength... all in all an excellent discussion, and one I think everyone benefitted from.
  9. I'm still using my Musso at work (or should I say my assistant is...). I am pretty impressed with it overall, I must say. I have never had a problem with the base having a frozen layer on the bottom. The dasher does a good job scraping the sides and bottom. If anything, I wish the blade went HIGHER, as the ice cream does pile up while its churning, because the top is convex and can accomodate it. But then again, I have a tendency to fill it as much as possible, because I seem to run it all day long, and am trying to get the most done as possible. As for freezing time, I only spin pre-chilled bases -- ones that I have made the day before to let the flavors develop more. My sorbets are spun as soon as they are made, but they are pretty darn cold because my syrup is cold, and I either use cold fruit, or barely thawed purees. Stuff freezes in about 30 minutes, but sometimes longer, as the kitchen is hot, or I have overfilled. the only drawbacks I see are: the small size (problematic for me) not fast enough (for me) to freeze no extraction process (I like to push a button and have the stuff extruded out a spout -- i don't have time to scoop out and handpack the ice cream) I unfortunately, am used to a much bigger and more powerful machine, so that's why I complain. But really -- overall -- I think the Musso is impressive.
  10. Can you explain how the acid affects the boiling sugar? Would you also have recipes of the examples mentioned so we could make these? ← Good question Wendy. I, too, like knowing the reason ingredients behave the way they do. Acid does two things: it delays crystalization and it gives elasticity (makes it pliable) Ideally, we want to achieve a sugar that shines, is stable enough for the techniques of pulling and blowing, and does not crystallize after a short period of time. Acid can be cream of tartar, tartaric acid, vinegar, lemon juice, there's even acid in glucose. Cream of tartar lasts longer, so that's why we add it at the beginning of the cooking process. It continues to work. Tartaric acid must be added near the end of the cooking process,because it doesn't last as long. The interesting thing you need to remember when you are doubling or tripling a batch of sugar, is that the acid is also in greater quantity, and therefore will have a greater impact. You can easily end up with a "softer batch" because you have had to cook it longer, therefore breaking down the sugar more. Therefore, you want to reduce the amount of acid if you are multiplying your recipe. I also mentioned the glucose as a factor...Glucose is an invert sugar, and has smaller sugar crystals. It can be obtained from potato, corn, wheat or even a combination of the three -- each having a different acid content. As I said before, the acid makes the sugar pliable and reduces the danger of crystallization. Too much acid makes the sugar soft, and increases its ability to absorb moisture. Glucose from potatoes seems to be the strongest, I was taught years ago. If your sugar is brittle (less elastic) and crystallizes quickly under the heat lamp, then your glucose is mmost likely corn based. Sometimes you just have to work by trial and error to find what's best for you, in your climate, with your water, your glucose, your sugar, etc. That's why it's always a good idea, too, if you travel or are in a competition... you should always do a test batch to see how soft (or not) it is. Here are the two recipes we used: Common ingredients: 100 g water 300 g sugar 30 g glucose 0.4 g cream of tartar Professional recipe: 1 k sugar 400-450 g water 200 g glucose 8 drops tartaric acid (make a 1:1 solution) Years ago, I also made the following recipe, when I couldn't get glucose. 311 g (or 11 oz) cold water 1000 g (o 2.2 #) sugar .5 teaspoon cream of tartar they all get cooked to either 160 or 165 degrees C
  11. All pieces must be carefully stored with limestone, or some sort of dessicant. As I mentioned before, the AUI people went to great lengths to keep our classroom at an amazing 47 % humidity or more... It made working with, and learning, so much easier. When we finished our parts or entire pieces, they were placed on a sheet pan, with a cup of limestone also sitting on the sheetpan. Then, large black plastic trash bags were slipped over one end, carefully, and tied up tight at the other end. They were then just slipped onto the speed rack for storage until further need. "Blobs" of ready sugar, (ready to be warmed and used) are also kept in this way. I suppose you could also keep a variety of pieces in a tightly sealed box, like a fish flat or tub, with a cup of limestone in it. I have stored my blobs in a ziplock bag in the past, with great success. A word on the limestone: when it turns to powder, it's no longer good/useful. So, depending on the environment, your little cup may last two days, or much longer. Just change as needed. When you only need a bit, you don't even have to have a cup the right size, just create a makeshift one with a piece of foil -- a little cup or basket shape and fill with a small handful of stones. The pieces I brought home from class on the last day, were in a box. They were unfortunately, unprotected from the elements, when I left, on a typical sweltering DC day, and then the ride home. I tried to keep the a/c blasting in my car, but the humidity took it's toll by the time I got home. ( Things had definitely already lost their shine, and a few tall wispy pieces had softened and just fell over, wilted looking.) It would have been nice had AUI put a cup of limestone in my box, and at least sealed up the box, or put it in a trashbag for the ride home. The second I got home, I did just that, and it's sitting in a corner of my extra kitchen (I built out a 'catering' or pastry kitchen in part of my garage). I haven't looked at it since I got home. That would be a useful exercise, I think, at the end of this thread. I will open it and take a picture to show you how it was stored securely, and if it lasted, and how long. I get my limestone rocks, of course, you guessed it, from Albert Uster. It comes in a 50 pound bag, for practically pennies. You should be able, I would think, to get it locally, but I must admit I have never looked anywhere else for it. Here's a shot with a cup of limestone in the background, on the tray. and here's a view of the speedracks, notice the bagged pans on the bottom right slots, and the top left.
  12. I too wanted to be able to walk in to Home Depot and get the same tubing, so I pulled off the label from the long coil of it, and stuck it to my notebook! I am looking at it as I type. It says: WATTS Clear Vinyl Tubing 10 feet 3/4" outside diameter x 5/8" inside diameter used for: - low pressure - food/water uses - do not use with ice makers. other than the barcode, the tiny numbers on it, I assume an item number, are: 42143810 How's that for accurate info? as for the department... dunno! Beats me! Can't be too hard to let them direct you though. I am happy to give a bit more details on the technique. I am, of course, trying to be cognizent of how much info I am imparting in this thread... I don't want to give away all Chef Rohira's secrets, nor do I intend on conducting an online course, (I wouldn't dream of thinking myself knowledgable enough on the topic of sugar to do so.) and, I am treading a fine line between giving an account of the class, versus every tiny detail so you don't need to take the class yourself. Of course, we all know nothing beats doing this kind of thing with an instructor showing you in person, and you practicing on site, with the instructor correcting you as you go. However, I will attempt to better explain this tube thing: The scoring part is a bit tricky. You have poured the hot sugar into the tube, and clipped the ends shut. You set the tube in whatever shape/direction you desire, (we did a circle), and then I guess it was about 7 or maybe even 10 minutes later before we scored. This is where the lovely Amanda was so crucial. She was the one pinching our tubes to see when they were 'ready.' Because I was so curious as to EXACTLY what 'ready' was, I kept bugging her and pinching too! "Is it ready yet?" "Hey Amanda, how about now?" "Ok, I think we're there, aren't we?" "AaaaMANNNNda?" All I can say is it's FIRM in the tube, but still able to indent slightly with your thumb. Not too squishy, but not rock hard either. The idea is so that when you score it, the sugar will hold its shape, and not ooze out, or lose its perfectly round thickness. Cut too late, and you risk scratching it (which can be torched smooth later if it's not too scratched). I had trouble at first when I began to score. I couldn't figure out how deep the plastic was, where it stopped and the sugar started. Amanda could see I was going too deep, and corrected me. Once I got a little further along, I could instinctly tell exactly how deep to score. It just sort of came to me, and hopefully you, too. (The next day when I release mine, it is clearly cut about a 2 inch length. I was able to torch most of it out, and then I ended up hiding the area under something else I attached when decorating the tube.) I guess after you do one, you know. I didn't know what it was supposed to look like, until Amanda showed me, then I caught on. When you score down the length of the tubing, look closely as you do it, and you will see the tube 'releasing' from the sugar, about an eighth of an inch on either side of the cut. That's exactly what you want. Then just let it sit to cool entirely -- we left ours overnight. You also don't score the entire length... just to about an inch or two from the clipped ends. You can finish cutting it away with the exacto blade when you go to remove the sugar from the tube. It comes away in one piece, so no-- you don't chop it up in sections to remove. It slips off easily. We will do just that in my next installment.
  13. I am sorry I didn't explain this better. Partly, I didn't because we did it so fast, I didn't snap any pictures. It's a one-two-three- thing and you're done. It's called straw sugar because it is like pieces of straw (which are hollow) bunched together. It's also lightweight, yet still quite strong, which can be an advantage in a showpiece, where you need strength, but not more weight than an otherwise heavier solid sugar piece would be. The appearance is bumpy on the outside, that is to say actually, lengthwise ridges. It is striated, as you observed Wendy, with lighter and darker strands of the color. The lighter parts have more air incorporated, just the same as pulled sugar is lighter in color than less pulled sugar. It is really quite beautiful and imo, more effective when used with darker colors, as we did in class. And yes, it is used for two reasons: 1) as a whole piece as seen in the photo, but also 2) specifically to be broken so as to see all the holes and texture. You can't cut it- well, really, i guess if you did, you would squish the openings all closed and that would defeat the purpose. That's why you just break it. It cools much faster than the same piece in solid sugar would -- so you can break it almost immediately after pulling. When you work with sugar, you also learn to recognize when the sugar is getting too cool, even to pull, because instead of stretching in your hand, it simply just breaks right off -- which can be unexpected or surprising sometimes. As for the method: pull a length, fold in half laying the two sections side by side, pull out again and repeat. You will have a fairly wide piece at that point. Sometimes it's easier to do thirds -- that is, pull the first time and fold, then on the second time, fold only a third up from one end, and the other third down from the top, like an N . (That way, also, one end isn't very narrow, and the other extra fat.) When it is wide enough, cup it width-wise, so the two far sides or edges, come around and meet/attach. (another way to describe... think of the letter M in pulled sugar, but really tall and stretched vertically... now curve the M around so the two long parallel sides of the M meet and attach to each other.) I found it helpful to hold your several-pulls-wide piece with only one hand, and hold/hang it vertically, using your other hand to cup and attach, creating a hollow tube or cocoon like thing. Once you've attached the sides, and your top and bottom are pinched, there is air trapped inside. So you begin pulling again, but quickly, because that trapped air helps to cool your sugar VERY fast, hence your limited time remaining to work with it. Like puff paste, the layers multiply arithmetically, in no time at all. Does that make sense? As for the ends, you can cut them off if you think they're too thick, but usually you just stretch them out to a more narrow tip when you're laying it out on your surface. That's why mine looked like a snake, with a head and a tail. Of course, you can always make the piece 3D, with a part sticking up, not just zigzag-ing on the table.
  14. I think that this is just isomalt cooked up with some water, as described by simdelish, and then hardened into the bead sized pieces that you see. I have worked with Isomalt before for sugarwork, and the way we make it is that we cook up a big batch of just isomalt and water, and when it gets to temp, we pour it onto silpat in workable sized blobs and let it harden just like that. When you are ready to use it, you take your blob and put it on a piece of silpat in the microwave and zap it as is explained with the Micro Magic beads, and the middle melts before the edge, and you can work it until it's at the right consistency. It's that easy, and it's really convenient to have the blobs made in advance and waiting for you. As for the hygroscopic factor, Isomalt reacts much better with humid conditions than regulat sugar. ← I think you're right, Tweety. It's just isomalt already "cooked" -- but you still have to add color, which I think is hard to do at that stage. mpshort, you can do what Tweety says, just make a big batch, color as you want then, when you are cooking it, and portion into 'blobs'-- use when needed. The beauty of the Venuance Pearls is one step further, as the color is already added, and you can use pretty small amounts if needed. Looking at the price of the micro magic, it appears to be much more expensive than the venuance or even the pearls as well. IIRC, AUI sells isomalt for less than $3/lb, and the pearls for less than $10/lb. The mico magic works out to $16 per pound, not including shipping.
  15. We break for lunch, which is held in the same room we met for breakfast. We have ordered out, from a deli, for delivery (AUI picks up the tab) and we relax and get off our feet for a while. After lunch, we learn the rose. Chef says that if you can master the rose, you are doing well. Many people can pull sugar, pour molds, do freeform things, and even pull fantasy flowers. But doing the rose, and doing it well is another thing altogether.... In class, Chef wants us to understand the steps: the three types of petals that form the rose. Once we understand how to make them, and how to add them to the flower in a lifelike manner, then later we can worry about thinness and shine of the petals. Here Chef is pulling the yellow sugar, in preparation for pulling the petals: The three parts or stages are: the center, which is basically a long strip rolled up the first petals, which usually number three, and are smaller and pointed, and the rest of the petals, usually either 5 or 7 more. Chef makes these over and over for us, pulling thin shiny perfect petals, and giving them a slight turn or roll of the edge, and lines them up on the counter. He adds them, in the same manner as the other flower we made in the morning by warming the bottom edge in the flame, and attaching them overlapping to look realistic. Simple, yes? Ahhh, the master. You know you are in the presence of one when he makes it look soooo easy, so simple. And then YOU try… not so easy after all! Chef also teaches us a technique called straw sugar. This is basically pulling sugar three times, laying each piece alongside the other, and cupping it, and attaching the two far sides to create a cocoon or tube-like piece, that will have air inside. You then pull and pull some more, each time creating, or rather multiplying the hollow strands, until your sugar has cooled enough and can no longer be pulled without breaking. Chef Rohira demonstrates the straw sugar not only with lightening speed, but with light hands; he shows us how to take the length of straw sugar and snakes it on the marble surface, making an interesting base in purple. He also breaks one into several pieces to show us the cross-section view, with all the tiny holes. This can be very effective added to a showpiece, he says. We go back to our stations to make both straw sugar, and roses. My petals look pretty good actually. It has been several years since I made a rose from pulled sugar. Although I made many of them, and made them well years ago, my technique is rusty from lack of practice. I plug along and make several centers, more small petals, and tons of large ones. Since at first I don’t seem to be able to make consistently-sized petals, I try to match up what I have, using petals similarly sized together on a flower. So as not to waste, and to practice until I improve, I end up with three roses in several stages. Just before are called to finish up and move on to the next thing…Only then does Chef tell us we need one good complete rose that we will add to a piece which we will assemble tomorrow! So I hurriedly try to finish one, adding a few leftover petals to my most complete rose. In my haste, I drop my rose, only slightly, and manage to catch it before it hits the marble table. But, the damage is done, and I have one very nice rose, but with a section broken off. Certainly not usable. Oh well, I decide I will just come in a bit early tomorrow, and make another so I am not behind. My straw sugar turns out pretty well. But then again, that's fairly simple. I didn't get it shaped quick enough in the form I wanted, before it started to harden, so mine looks kind of like a snake. Meanwhile, as we have been working on our roses, Amanda and Brian have set up sort of an assembly line for us each to come forward to make a sugar "tube." This is an example of the many new things that we see coming out of the competitions. Brian has precut plastic tubing from Home Depot, and has us tape it to the edge of the counter and fill with hot sugar. We clip off the ends, and move around the center marble counter to Amanda, who helps us wrap them around cake rings for even shaping. When the tubes have cooled enough to stay firm, we slice the tubing so we can more easily remove it tomorrow when it's totally cooled and set. Next up: blown sugar! Chef demos this for us today, so that we can see and get just a familiar idea of it. We will not blow sugar ourselves until Day Two of class. Chef makes some orange sugar, with the yellow and red he has under the warming lamp. He takes another opportunity to talk to us about the importance of color, the importance of not using straight primary colors, and stresses to us to make our own unique custom, or signature colors. To begin blowing, you want to use opaque sugar, that is, some that has been pulled, not clear. Chef squeezes some in his hand, creating a perfect ball above his clenched fist. He cuts it off, makes a little indentation in the underside of this ball, warms the tip of the rubber pump as well as the indented pillow in his hand. He attaches the sugar to the pump tip, and then his hands become a blur of movement. He starts twirling and pressing, twirling and smoothing and ever so slightly squeezing the rubber bulb at the other end of the tube. All the while he’s chatting with us, his hands are on their own course, their own mission. In a moment, we realize there is a slight bulge beginning to appear, where there was before only a lump of warm sugar. He twirls, smoothes, pumps, twirls, smoothes -- sometimes against his cheek – and pumps the sugar. He shows us how to cool thin parts of the growing ball against the marble. and like magic... A perfect sphere is before us! Chef turns on the blow dryer to cool it completely. Then Chef removes the sphere from the pump by warming the neck over the flame, turns and twists it slightly, and cuts the softened/melted neck from the pump tip. Next, in a matter of seconds, Chef is back pulling another piece of orange sugar, and snips the long strip with scissors. and in no time starts accumulating a little row of longish orange pointy petals. He calls this “the French flower.” Why French? someone asks. “Because,” Chef answers,” the French team uses this a lot!” He makes seven of these petals, and then begins making another row of seven larger ones, but still the same shape. Before he lays down a completed petal, he twists the pointy end, curling it up. Each one he does the same way. He picks up the moments earlier-completed sphere, and begins attaching the ‘petals’ to the underneath of the sphere. And again, in just minutes, Chef Rohira has completed another gorgeous flower in sugar. a close-up: Here's a pic of the three things we completed this afternoon: By now its nearing quitting time, so we are asked to finish up whatever else we want, and then clean our stations for tomorrow. As we are doing so, Amanda is prepping lovely little mini-quiches, stuffed shells, etc on sheet pans to go in the oven. A reception is planned for after class on the first evening, to include some of the AUI people, so that we may all meet and get to know one another a bit better. We take bring our worth-saving parts and pieces to the front of the classroom, for labeling and storage. While we clean up, Chef pulls out a chocolate showpiece he’s working on for a client, in order to take advantage of a few free minutes he has. Here he's givinng the piece a coat of chocolate with the spray gun: The class adjourns to the large reception room, the same that we meet in for breakfast and lunch. The room also has an attractive display of many Albert Uster products around the perimeter of the room, with display pieces intermingled. A small buffet has been set up, with beverages and hors d’oeuvres. Several gracious members of the AUI team greet us, chat about the course, and where we are from. We’ve accomplished quite a bit this first day, and are excited to talk about it. Afterwards, some of the local classmates head off home, while those from out of town (who were staying at a nearby hotel) head out to dinner at a local Thai place. I join the dinner group, as I don’t want to fight the probable 2 hr commute home. Dinner is delicious, and we have a chance to unwind a bit and trade stories. A few of the AUI people also join us, making a fun and relaxing evening. I bow out as soon as dinner is over, as I must make the long trek home, and begin this report. I hope I am not boring you all... please ask questions! This is not intended as a one-sided thread. Ask questions, make comments, whatever! Or else I may be forced to stick in a photo of my pets! Tomorrow: talk of showpieces and their design, making swans, and the unveiling of the tubes!
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