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Posts posted by chefpeon

  1. It would be to their advantage to just hire you as their part time pastry chef. That way you can order your ingredients through their purveyors and get a discounted price. If you contract out your work you would end up charging them more just to cover your retail costs for ingredients (that is, if you already are paying retail and don't have a relationship with a purveyor yourself). Personally I wouldn't charge by the piece; I'd want to be compensated for my time. Especially when you get special orders, you know you will get your butt covered.

  2. That's why pop-tarts suck....you put them in the toaster and the icing doesn't even MELT. That's kind of scary in my book.

    Do like what they do for toaster strudel......put the icing in little sandwich bags with the top twisted and tied with a bow so it looks like a pastry bag. All the customer has to do is snip the tip off and squeeze their icing on. You can even put ganache in your little icing bags for chocolate "rob" tarts.

  3. In my last shop, the "tastings" were separate from an actual wedding cake consultation.

    Once a month or once a week, depending on what time of season it was, we advertised a "tasting party" where anyone could come and taste all our flavors of cakes and fillings. We would bake up a layer or two of each flavor cake we did, cut each layer into little cubes, put all our fillings in little bowls, including our buttercreams, and even samples of fondant, cut into flower shapes.

    This way people could take any cake cube, sample it with any flavor filling and come up with their own favorites. Also on hand we had our portfolios for customers to browse through to see cake designs and pricing tiers for different styles.

    We had a person on hand to answer basic questions and make appointments for the actual consultation for the wedding cake design.

    At the consultation, the whole choice of flavors was pretty much in the bag, since the couple had come to the tasting and already knew what they wanted. Then in the consultation, we could hash over the other stuff like the design, number of servings, reception venue, delivery time....etc etc.

    It was a very efficient way to do things. This so far, has been my favorite way of doing it.

    Regarding the actual consultation, it was complimentary with a $50 deposit to reserve your wedding date. The $50 was included in the final price of the cake. If they didn't want to put any money down, then their date was not guaranteed. Also, additional consultations were charged at an hourly rate, since there's no reason you can't nail down a cake flavor and design in one consultation. Believe me, we had people that would change their minds all the time, and we charged them every time they came in to change something. This was a great incentive to get people to make their decision in one appt. only.

  4. You could also mention the non-restaurant opportunities which exist for culinary school graduates, and self-taught passionate cooks: food writing, test kitchen for food manufacturers, recipe & nutrition analysis for restaurants (would require some science training), personal chef, private chef, teaching, community work, culinary concierge, culinary tourism...

    There are a number of fulfilling vocations within the culinary trade which have nothing to do with the insane hours of restaurant and hotel cooking.

    The best thing about being a cooking professional? Portable skills, man, portable skills. What young person wouldn't want to know that they could work anywhere in the world?

    I wish I'd remembered to mention all that in my talk. I'm just so embedded in thought about my own personal experiences, I couldn't think outside my own box.

    How much of a barrier is language? I think sometimes, I'd like to cook in Paris. Would I not need to know loads of French?

    Looking back, I would have taken Spanish and French in a heartbeat. If I had to choose though, it would be Spanish.

    My talk went well. The teacher sent me a note after, telling me she'd love to have me back. I bet she says that to all her guests, so she can have a permanent booking schedule! I feel I did ok......I got through it at least.....I survived. :laugh:

  5. May I ask how you did these? Really fun and beautiful work.

    Nice cookie writing onetough!

    Thanks for adding your pic!

    In response to your question, it's a lot like royal icing colorflow, but I use white chocolate.

    1. Print your font out (in reverse!)

    2. Pipe a melted chocolate outline of each letter right on the paper. (if it's a really bold font....if it isn't, just pipe each letter) Put your paper on a piece of cardboard or a sheet pan to let it lay flat.

    3. Go back and fill in your outlines if necessary.

    4. Using white chocolate with no color, you can connect the words or letters together, as you've seen in some of my cakes, or you can just leave each letter separate, like I did on the PTTV cake and position each letter on the cake as you like.

    5. Let the chocolate letters set in the fridge for about 5 minutes, then flip the paper over, and let them set about ten minutes more. Peel the paper off, and voila.....you have your specialty font.

    You can do the same for pictures, as you can see, I did the same thing with the man with the martini glass on the martini cake.

    It's not necessary to reverse the image when you are doing pictures (most of the time), but with letters and writing you HAVE to reverse the letters or your font will come out backwards when you are done. A lot of printers have settings wherein you can reverse images. On my printer, it's the "T shirt transfer setting".

  6. If you're looking at the model like I have, (the Rev 2), it's good if you only are doing very small batches. It only melts 1.5 lbs of chocolate at a time (if you're lucky), and believe me, 1.5 lbs of chocolate isn't very much.

    If you're doing chocolate on a commercial scale, then the Rev 2 isn't for you. I'd invest in a commercial grade machine.

  7. It about hard work, working with nasty personalities and misfits, doing the same thing over and over again consistently, no creativity but doing as you're told, physical pain, burns, no breaks, long hours, no life, no money, but you really have to love it!

    What does that even mean?! unsure.gif

    It means that we got into "the life" because of our passion for cooking/baking and food. But we found out about the realities along the way. Because it's human nature to focus on the negative experiences (mostly because they outnumber the positive), we seem like a bunch of whiny folk.

    A lot of us have been in the business long enough that we feel "stuck" in it.....that we can't imagine doing anything else. As much as I whine about being burned out (and I am), I still couldn't imagine myself in an office, much less a cubicle. Or accounting........ugh! Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with my career, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

    Thanks everybody for the input you've given! I'm going to print out this thread and refer to it as I sweat profusely under the expectant eyes of the young'uns. :laugh:

  8. I have to give a talk to a class of high school students about life as a chef....I know plenty about it, but I'm having trouble being positive. The teacher told me to emphasize both the positive and the negative, and I can come up with lots about the negative part......but the other side is sorely lacking.

    I'm looking for you guys who live the life to suggest some things that you would say to a group of high school kids looking to get into culinary as a career. Positive and negative. If I can get as many points of view as possible, that would be great....... :smile:

    I'm not so good at talking in front of people. I need some material!

  9. Really impressive, especially the Cecil and Lily cake. Looks like hand lettering done with a wide-nibbed pen. How do you pull that off?

    I usually always write in chocolate (either dark or white), piped through a paper cone.

    Mostly, all I can say is practice practice practice, when it comes to writing. I was able to find

    a good way of writing by making capital letters look "cursive-y". If you study it, you will know

    that all my characters are are upper case letters with embellishments. :smile:

  10. Hi chefpeon, and thanks so much for your reply, your words of advice and your compliments!  :smile:

    It's great to know that the narrowing frame is to be expected for this shape, because I was starting to wonder if I had over-developed the gluten in the dough during lamination, or if I didn't allow enough time for the made-up diamonds to relax before baking. Thanks!

    I like the puff and the volume of these things, so I think it's better to bake them as they are, and not weigh them down.

    By the way, when you bake puff pastry sheets (for Napoleons for instance), do you weigh them down with baking paper and a second baking sheet, or is it sufficient to simply dock the sheet well before putting it into the oven?

    Yes....when I bake off sheets for Napoleons I do weigh them down with another sheet pan for the first part of the bake. That's about the only time you don't want your puff to rise too much!

  11. Good job on the diamonds! My opinion is that they are fine! I come from a bakery that bakes off zillions of the things, and that "curving in" thing is just part of what they do; and your theory about the "twist" that is causing it is absolutely correct.

    If you really want to be anal retentive about straight sides, you might want to place a sheet of parchment on top of your diamonds, then place another sheet pan on top of that. Bake them for 12-15 minutes with the pan and parchment on top, then remove them for the remainder of the baking. The only problem you may have with that is that the puff may not rise as much. It's sort of a trade off.

    I think your diamonds are fine the way they are. :smile:

  12. If you have good luck using the CI recipe, stick with it. No need to worry about the milk/water ratio. Adding more milk just makes a softer shell, and I like crispy shells.....both for savory and sweet choux.

    Actually, "sweet" pate choux doesn't taste sweet at all.....it's kinda neutral. When I make gougeres I don't even bother omitting the sugar since you pretty much don't taste the presence of it anyway.

    To pipe the pastry cream in a cream puff shell, use a small paring knife and with the tip of it, make a small hole in the bottom of the puff, and twist the knife a little. Use a #5 or #6 plain tip, and slowly squeeze the pastry cream in, until you feel the puff start to expand a little in your hand. Be careful not to overfill.

    Pipe in the pastry cream as close to serving time as possible, because the cream eventually does soften the shells, which can't be helped.

  13. No, if it's too hard, then you need less chocolate and more corn syrup.

    Or glucose, if that's what you're using. Using more chocolate will just make it harder.

    My recipe is 5 lbs of dark chocolate to 2 2/3 cup corn syrup.

    For white modeling chocolate I use 6 lbs white chocolate to 2 2/3 cup corn syrup.

  14. Put the modeling chocolate in the refrigerator only to set it up. Then remove it from the fridge and store it at room temperature. Still, you may need to microwave it to get it kneadable, but only micro it at short 5-10 second bursts.

  15. I just want to re-emphasize the answers from alanamoana and chiantiglace.....they are right on the money.

    You don't have to have a clean cold mixer bowl to whip cream. In fact I will whip up buttercream and then once I scrape the bowl out I will whip cream in the same bowl, no problems. The issue of having a clean bowl only applies to the whipping of egg whites.

    Chianti's point of not having enough butterfat in the cream is right on. Even though the label may say 32 percent butterfat, there may or may not be that amount in that particular container. For instance, my cream containers say, "MINIMUM 40 percent butterfat", so that means my half gal. of cream may have even 42%. It all depends on the batch and lot at the dairy. In the hundreds of gallons of cream I have whipped in my day, it's true, some batches DID NOT whip. I knew it was a butterfat problem and got immediate credit and replacement on my product.

    It's also true that warming cream and letting it get cold again should not affect the whipability of it. I've scalded cream many times and used the refrigerated leftovers for whipping cream. No problems.

  16. It's great mixed with chocolate but not with cream as it will get soggy. Lots of possibilities. I think there are several threads about Feuilletine.

    I saw the thread about homemade feuilletine......couldn't find much else. I know I can't mix it with moisture based items like buttercream, mousseline, pastry cream, etc, and have it maintain it's crunch. Is it basically just something you add to chocolate and that's it? Can you use it as a garnish, like to mask the sides of cakes? I'd like to be able to make a crunchy dessert with it.

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