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Everything posted by melmck

  1. Because I live in Portland, I love it here. I own my home, we work our butts off to improve it all of the time. It's value has doubled in 5 years.(Hello, equity injection for the bakery.)Yes we have good bread bakeries, but for pastries and desserts there is a serious niche to be filled, and right here in my own neighborhood. I love Seattle, I used to live there. If you haven't lived there, you wouldn't know that every neighborhood has it's own bakery, coffee shop, bar, restaurants, alehouses, that are each distinct to it's section of town. Portland is now achieving this.
  2. Well gosh golly, thanks for the interest. It was 1997 that I jumped into pastry. I still felt like it was something I HAD to do. People always say "I don't have the patience for that", like we are born incredibly patient?? And I say, YOU LEARN IT. Waiting for the oven to come to temp. Waiting for the pans to come out of the dishwasher. Waiting for chocolate to reach the right temperature. Waiting for the ganache to set. Waiting for dough to thaw. Waiting for stuff to cool down before proceeeding with the next step. Waiting for some jerk to get out of your way. Patience is forced upon us. Now I am patient-with my products, not neccessarily people. I do try, and am a reasonable person to work with. We'll see what happens in my own bakery!.Maybe I'll need a bullwhip and electric cattle prod. It's going to be my ass and my dollars on the line. So don't fuck it up. This part is always hard for an employee to get. Attach a dollar figure to that pan of almonds you burned, or that ice cream you forgot to wrap well, now the whole things freezer burned and is garbage. You over whipped the heavy cream? It's coming out of your paycheck, pal. I fall for the classic carrot-dangling offered by so many chefs. I am inherently optimistic and want to beleive that it will happen. I will work with big shots. I will travel to Hawaii. Aspen, Paris. It never happens. I pay my own way to the James Beard House when my last employer is invited. That's right, my own plane tix, and everything. The only thing that really made it worthwhile, I did get The Supreme Hook-Up at Picholine, thank you Terrance Brennan, and eat and drink more in one meal than in a week. At one point I had nine different glasses of wine, champagne, liquer in front of me. I am hammered. There are shieks and ladies dripping in furs & diamonds, looking at me and my friends like we won a contest on Oprah. Who are those shabbily dressed freaks and why are they getting star treatment??? HAHAHA this is the best moment of my life! We are so drunk,and so blown away, that we cannot stop laughing. We are obnoxious, and I ask the napkin boy to please carry me to the bathroom. This turns out to be a really bad plan, the night before the James Beard dinner. Have you ever tried to cook for the most important dinner event so hungover that even your hair hurts? I no longer beleive the carrot-danglers. I will not do this at my bakery. It is what it is. I continue working pastry chef jobs, get a little local attention. I never run out of ideas, or motivation for new things. There is always so much more to learn. This is how I approach learning any subject. Read, research, surf the internet, read some more. I want to know everything about that little magical cocoa bean. Naturally fermented breads. Coffee, beer wine etc. Luckily my husband is very much into all of this as well, not professionally. He brews, roasts our own coffee, makes our bread. We have very high standards which annoy our families. We are used to the best! Why the hell should we settle for less? Once again, soo tired, I will continue later and get to the bakery part. Promise.
  3. Good Morning, it is great to meet you all. After some good suggestions and prompting, I will lay down my life story for you. (kinda, sorta) and tell everyone about the Opening of a Bakery. First a brief history. I was born and raised with excellent food. My Mom was a chef in London in the early 60's. She won't say she is a chef though- something like Culinary Professional. She made everything from scratch for us, in the 1970's when everyone was digging what came out of boxes, bags, frozen or freeze-dried astronaut food. I started training at her knee and cooked/baked family meals from 10 years old. I was a natural, and started working at our Italian friends, the Todaros, party center at age 14. They also had an Italian import shop in the 70's and I remember the smell of olives, cured meats and cheeses. When I think of it, and breathe in, I can still smell it as though it were yesterday. Next phase, I start woking fast food. Arby's in fact, and made Manager by age 18. I thought I was hot shit and too cool for school. I give credit to that experience for teaching me all about sanitation, and being seriously AR. Fill the fries up to this line, fill the shakes up to this line, try and make it all look like it does in the advertisements. I swear this was my goal! By the way don't ever eat that "roast beef"...that's another tale. So I'm a teenager who needs fast cash to feed that jones, and work at Pizza Hut. I make the best looking pies with concentric circles of pepperoni and perfectly layered cheese. Whip it out, slice it perfectly, then drive all over town while getting loaded with all of the other drivers and cooks. Deliver free pies to the big parties, get free drugs! Now become most popular person around... next phase hazy due to drugs, ..............., uuuhh,....., get cleaned up, move back in with parents. Start working at a Steak & Prime Rib joint. Roast those babies perfectly, become even more of an anal freak and do everything JUST SO. Move into soups and sauces. LOVE BEING SAUCIER!!! Love sucking the cans of whipped cream first thing in the AM, and then saying, hey!! These ones are all flat, bring me another case ASAP!! Get shit together, move to Pacific Northwest all by myself,I remembered huge trees, crystal clear water and big mountains from a childhood trip. Seattle. Yep, they are still there although the trees have taken a beating by clear cutting and 'forest management'. Work in a hotel and do every position. Learn about assembly line plating for thousands of people. Learn that the platters of food I am making cost the guest $3500, while I am making $8 an hour and putting 50 cents in the gas tank just to get to work. Soaking up the culinary scene of Seattle, and learning all about Pike Place Market. Coffee. Beer. Mushrooms.Nuts. Pears.Berries. Produce, meat, handcrafted cheeses. Wine. More coffee. Learning that the alehouses of Seattle are some of the best restaurants in the city, and that most of the rest of the country can not compare to their beautiful marriage of excellent food paired with excellent beer. Now to move to my most favorite job ever. The Maple Leaf Grill, working for Rip. He's an amazing chef who calls himself a cook. He is humble about the accolades he receives, and he is one talented MF. He teaches me all about the importance of locally grown products. The Northwest has it all. That's our wild mushrooms, berries, lamb, potatoes and hazelnuts that most of the country is eating. And salmon, how could I forget that? We go to Pike Place Market, fill up backpacks, hoof it back to the restaurant and see what rolls out. Leeks, vinegar, honey, . Tomatoes, sausages, aged cheeses. Pears. Purple potatoes. Oysters. Chiles. I could keep going... Now I'm completely sucked in to only using the very best, freshest, handcrafted products. Obsession! Passion! Damn the cost! I want the best! Keep cooking in great places all over the Northwest. Seattle, Eugene, Portland. By the way at this point I am only doing savory stuff. I have very little interest in baking & pastry. I am also the only woman in the kitchen at all of my jobs. I learn to fight dirty, and become a tough bitch. I go to culinary school, and am very let down. Expensive, full of 18 year-olds forced into some kind of trade by their parents, already teaching passe' CLASSICS. I do learn about costing, and how to manage 18 year-olds. I take an internship in charcuterie, and also research cheesemaking. I am working Sous Chef jobs, one after the other, then start to think, well if I am going to ever make executive chef, I'd better know every single position in the kitchen. I had always stayed away from bread and pastry. I am also thinking do I HAVE to go to France and work under big names to be acknowledged as a talented chef? Will I always be small potatoes if I don't? Do my stages with big wigs count for anything? I have never been able to afford to go to France to train. One day, while working as Sous at the charcuterie joint, which also had 3 sister restaurants and a huge catering business, the Pastry Chef quits and they come running to me. Do I want to do it? Can I help for a few weeks until we find a new PC? I say sure what the heck, I'm supposed to learn everything anyway if I'm ever gonna hit Exec. So I delve into pastry, and have no one to teach me and show me. I learn very fast that you do not want to overcook 20 cheesecakes. Or anything else. It is a very humbling experience, and I feel like such a loser for not knowing these things. But, I am a research queen. I figure it out. as always, by myself, the hard way which is the best way- you learn everything VERY QUICKLY about what to do, what not to do. what works. Trial and error. Thrown in to the lion's den, the way it has always worked for me. None of this hand-holding crap for me, thank you very much! I can do it! Fast forward a few years, and I finally feel like, yes, I am a Pastry Chef. Wow, whooda thunk? I work for some serious bastards a long the way. I get screwed over, and never get the pay I deserve, and frequently feel like I work for Hitler's Henchmen. The old boys club too. Work extra hard, and make sure I am the last one standing each night. First person in, last person out, all for $24K a year, 6 days a week for 18 hours a day. I am a zombie. I cry on the way home from sheer exhaustion. Never ever cry at work. Never let'em see ya sweat. I can do it. I can handle it. No problem! How much and when do you need it by?? Piece of fricken cake. Born to do it with both hands tied behind my back, I can pull that tray out of the oven with my teeth! Yep, I'm opening a bakery RIGHT NOW and I am spilling my guts on a forum. I do not have time for this, but it is in some ways therapeutic. MY personal time. However I am whupped it's midnight and I have to be at the bakery at 8AM, getting the phone & internet hook up. So I will contiune the saga, of how I got to this point.
  4. Hi- I need to find a few sources for pistachio paste. What's your favorite brand and who do you order from? Who has the best prices?
  5. Make your own with what regional/available fruits you can. Puree huge batches, or have your prep,dishwasher etc do the grunt work of pureeing & straining. Then freeze. You could always buy IQF frozen berries as another cost saver. I have to buy passionfruit, mango, etc...
  6. Yes- wrap your spring form or pan you are using in foil around the bottom to seal it. Place the cheesecake into a water bath, cover with tented foil again, and bake it low and slow.( under 300) Rotate 1/2 way through and check it's progress. Poach-baking cheesecakes is THE way to go-- no cracks or valleys. If you do a sour cream topping or something like that, pull it out let it cool for 15 min, spread your goo, then return to a 350 oven for 5 miinutes.
  7. Thanks for the tips. I found something cool at an Asian market, purple sweet potato flakes. (If you've never eaten purple sweet potatoes, they are soo good) I made a paste with boiling H2O, and Am going to try it today...
  8. melmck


    Kick down some recipes! We must have them at once !! Gimme, gimme, gimme!!! PLEEEEZ
  9. As a chef who has had to make cake pans out of tin foil, use plastic wrap for sink stoppers, wine bottles for rolling pins, etc (I worked for too many cheap bastards) if $$$ is the serious issue, I used plastic chip baskets lined with cheeseloth and flour. The cheesecloth peels right off after you flip it onto the peel.
  10. Here's another idea. Make an apple butter filling, puff pastry, thinly sliced apples. Bake. make a glaze of clear apple juice infused with vanilla beans,lots, and reduce until it is a thick syrup and spread over apples. The syrup adds major apple punch to any apple dessert.
  11. I am searching for a natural source of food colorings, to tint buttercream, & use in chocolate work. I don't like commercial FC, it is synthetic and toxic to boot. Has anyone found a good source/vendor who has naturally derived colorings
  12. I HATE LOW-CARB hype!! It's not just bread, it's sugar too. It is also completely unnatural to me. What the heck kind of diet won't permit you to eat fruit? The stupidest one ever!
  13. I have to get several mixers too, and have been doing a lot of research. Go for the most powerful for the price. You may be starting small now, but as business grows you will want a more heavy-duty machine. The Kenwood and the new Viking have 800-1000 watts of power for 7qt. mixer.
  14. I use this glaze for top coats, eclairs, terrines etc. Trouble free! 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 10 T. unsalted butter 2 T. light corn syrup Melt all in a double boiler . Whisk until smooth. It can be refrigerated and reheated several times, but is easy enough to make fresh.
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