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Everything posted by bibbotson

  1. I've emailed TCF and Dedy and am waiting to hear from them, but I was wondering if anyone here already had a source. Our guitar was purchased long before I was hired, so any extra bolts we had are a distant memory. TCF was a great source for replacing the pick-up tray that had been lost.
  2. Anyone have any ideas about sourcing replacement bolts? Our Dedy guitar frames have bolts with a drilled shank, through which you pass the wire and then tighten around. Several times now, the threads of the bolts/frame hole catch momentarily against each other while tightening, and the shank snaps off along the drilled hole, where the material is thinnest. We have enough frames that we've been able to get by cannibalizing less-used frames, but I've been looking for a source to stock up a replacement inventory. Any ideas? I've had inquiries in to TCF and other vendors but no leads yet. The problem I see is that the drilled shanks are "custom" - with the hole about 6mm/0.25in below the head, whereas all bolt vendors seem to offer drilled shanks with the hole drilled just above the end of the bolt. Thanks!
  3. After several years I had a 15-lb bucket of Trimoline that had sat unused both separate and turn coffee-colored. The task of recombining the two halves was quite a job. When recombined it seemed fine, taste was the same but it was coffee-colored. I had bought it for home use so I didn't need it that often.
  4. Pastry Art & Design was being carried by Barnes & Noble here in NYC as recently as last issue, but the three B&N's near me each have magazine sales bigger than the combined stores in some states (literally, top 3 nationwide by a wide margin) so perhaps they get a different line-up of magazines. They seemed to follow the Food Network trend of moving from "how-to" and techniques to lifestyle and profiles, which is an important facet but not one I find as useful, so my passion to run out and buy the latest issue kept declining over the years. A shame, as I started my pastry career shift by steadily devouring issues of Chocolatier in the early-90s and moving on to PAD. Pastry's Best had been steadily improving over the last 5 or 6 issues, so I'll miss it if it is really gone. I was supposed to be interviewed for part of an article several months ago and they seemed to drop the ball, which may be part of their production going on hold. Pastry and Baking NA (and Asia) are both good but I haven't gotten around to subscribing yet. The only magazine I find it worth reading regularly is Journal du Patissier but it's only in French if that doesn't work for you.
  5. Overall I'm a fan of l'epicerie. When this has happened to me, they consulted me first. Which they are legally required to do as part of their business license in New York City. It doesn't matter whether it is correct or not that "it's the same thing." Legally, even a different brand of the same thing requires approval, because that's not what you purchased. (This comes up here in NYC every few years, when some reporter decides to press the issue in restaurants or fast-food places, asking for a Coke or Pepsi and being just served the other or a generic.) This is the fifth or sixth time I've heard of someone getting substandard treatment from them, which is starting to outweigh the several times I or someone I knew got stellar treatment. Good luck with this.
  6. "Dessert chef" is so very silly. As my (now-retired) French pastry instructor, formerly pastry chef at several of the big 4-star major French restaurants in New York City, described the distinction: ... pastry encompasses everything: mousses, custards, any dessert, ice creams and sorbets, showpieces both traditional and modern (croquembouche, pastillage, sugar, chocolate), cakes, bonbons etc. And they all fall within the sphere of professional competence of a pastry cook/chef. Bread is something a pastry chef must be able to do as necessary but not necessarily a primary task. ... a baker on the other hand deals with bread exclusively. "Dessert chef" is part of a larger trend in pastry that you don't see as much in the rest of the kitchen: the growing competitive urge to specialize and enhance credentials. I had to talk to a lot of chefs a couple of years ago for a research prjoect for class, looking at this issue. Its a consequence of the marketplace increasingly shifting from pastry cooks who (like their savory colleagues) trained on-the-job on up from dishwashers, to those who (like their savory colleagues, again) went to school (just plain culinary school), to those who exclusively studied pastry, and now to those pastry cooks who can claim special expertise because of taking continuing ed classes at FPS or ICE or who claim to "specialize" in bonbons or ice-cream or plated desserts. You have chefs and cooks in the mid-range of the market, who have years of experience but perhaps not "top-level," feeling the pressure from new people in the market who are "out-professionalizing" them in this way. I've seen soon-to-be and new grads from "top" schools brashly arguing that the superior nature of their training means they will leapfrog up the career ladder faster than those more senior who might only have experience or "lesser" training. And while they might not be correct, they're probably not entirely inaccurate. As career paths forward from today always deal with a narrowing of opportunities (there are many more sous chef openings than chef openings, etc.) there is a growing concern among some that the shift in the professional dynamics in pastry which has really only occurred in the last 10 years or so may "maroon" them. And so people I know have taken short courses at ICE or FPS who don't really stand to learn as much as others might, but who are doing it solely for their resume. (I actually saw a resume once where a pastry chef listed each several-hour demo he attended at several World Pastry Forums -- maybe 20 in all? -- as a separate line in the education portion of the resume, each given equal weight alongside his actual school-based education and several week or month stages.) It might be silly but it is a real phenomenon.
  7. There's a bit of a difference here, and a little problem with your analogy. To be a doctor or a lawyer, you have to have the documented education and pass rigorous testing, and be licensed. The analogy is appropriate. Paul Starr's landmark book The Social Transformation of American Medicine (which was just released in a 20th-anniversary copy) details how the medical profession struggled to become, well, ... a profession. Just like cooking today, there were no licensing exams, some people had classroom training but most had on-the-job or at-home experience, etc. Same thing with law in this country (you know how many Supreme Court justices never went to law school?). Both professions had to organize to set standards for licensing and education, ethics, etc. This altruistically, arguably, improved the quality of the field, but also enabled them to raise salaries and compensation. Before that anyone could decide tomorrow they were a doctor and sell you a homebrewed remedy, which made it a very low-paid field that was dominated by those who were already independently wealthy. I would argue we need a lot more work before cooking becomes a profession. Take licensing, for instance. Why not require every line and prep cook to get sanitation/health-code certification? Here in NYC, with one of the most stringent laws in the country, only one person in the restaurant at a time need have it (and that can be a FOH manager). There is no barrier to entry at all.
  8. This is why in pastry school when making puff pastry our French instructor would have us "step down" from plugra-style 82% butter, used in everything else we produced, to using normal 78-80% butter, and had us make side-by-side comparisons once. It seems like it would only make a small difference but it works (11-22 percent more water to lift the dough). I think the ideal balance we found was 82% for detrempe (where the butter serves more for dough feel and taste) and 78-80% for the beurrage. He argued that while higher butterfat was better for many uses, in puff pastry American butter is superior. He explained that this was the "secret weapon" for several cycles of the U.S. team in the bread baking World Cup, once they realized this and used different percentages butter across the line of products they made for the competition. The European teams' butters ranged from 82% to dry for different uses, but the "non-professional" ordinary U.S. butter rounded out the lower end of our range.
  9. Just substitute the same amount of cornstarch. In school I had professors who always made pastry cream without creme poudre, and some who always used it. And in my workplace I've made recipes calling for it with the actual product and with cornstarch instead. I've never been able to discern any difference.
  10. This is similar to the "pan grease" we would use in school, although I think we used only equal amounts shortening and flour. Works great, used it at home for years afterward. Currently in a restaurant kitchen, we just lightly brush soybean oil then flour and tap out excess. Also works great.
  11. The showpieces, the cake and the bonbons are each judged on their own, by their own separate set of 6 judges. Among the judges are eGullet contributors and eminent chefs whose books and works are discussed frequently here (such as Andrew Shotts, En Ming Hsu and Richard Capizzi for the showpieces, Eric Bedoucha and Laurent Richard for the cake, and Pascal Janvier, Jean Francois Bonnet and Michael Hu for the bonbons, and overseen by Florian Bellanger). The results are weighted and combined, with the combined tasting elements (cake and bonbons) dominating over the showpiece. And in the event of a close result (like last year) the tasting side must determine the winner. As pastry chefs, taste is the most important thing. These aren't graphic artists, or sculptors. They are working pastry chefs, and they approach the competition with different artistic abilities and sensibilities. And given the score-weighting and their time constraints to prepare, some don't lavish vast amounts of time on the showpiece's artistry. Some pieces do look amateurish or high-schoolish. Some have amazing technique on an element or two but lack any artistic elan or elegance for the piece as a whole composition. The judging attempts to combine both technical and artistic assessments, and I don't know exactly how they weight the two. Looking at the full range of pieces in the competition over the past several years, winning and not-winning, they clearly don't privilege technical difficulty on its own. Each year there are pieces that are very difficult to accomplish but which lack an artistic pleasantness and these do not do well. As someone who was introduced to creating sugar and chocolate showpieces by a teacher with a studio BFA and who required students to begin the course by visiting museums and describing and sketching paintings and sculptures, I appreciate and aim for pieces with both technical and artistic values. There are always pieces that seem to be created by walking through a checklist of techniques, but they don't always (or even usually) win. Like the difference between the satisfaction of watching the first Matrix movie (special effects used to further a strong plot and story) and the later two (plot used to loosely tie together special effects sequences), there is an artistic judgement call between being able to do something and having it be useful in the cause of the piece. The order of the winners reflects overall score, not of the showpieces. The tastings varied among these winners and that determined the final outcomes. For Anthony Smith's piece, the photo shows the entire piece but doesn't convey well the exquisite piecework within it, both front and back. The manta ray on top, for example, was amazingly well done and detailed in a beautiful, artistic and technically difficult way. The displayed cake emerged from a large, meticulously-detailed clam that unfortunately collapsed before the photo was taken, which makes the chocolate reef loom larger as an unbroken expanse. Anthony in particular represents for me someone who produces artistic work and who I've watched spending months thinking on how to move from inspiration to concept to finished piece. This year's piece was a reef under the sea, the chocolate reef was not as wholly inappropriate as some of the comments here suggest. For example of other pieces of his that might illustrate my admiration of the artistry of his work: And Javier Trujillo's piece was absolutely beautiful, particularly the sugar work on top, which was actually two pieces joined in a vee-shape (once again, more and more-zoomed-in photos might demonstrate the aesthetic value better). Schneich, if you can bring artistic training to your showpieces, all the more power to you. I don't think anyone doesn't believe it has a role, just not everyone has the same level of either inate aesthetic sensibility or training. Those that have either produce more beautiful work, no question. And I know of some competitors who deliberately have sought out training to remedy their known limitations. That's the difficulty of this competition (and others). It's a challenge to do all three elements successfully. As examples (without naming which competitors): one of the above 4 placers had the best cake and showpiece, solidly, but the next-to-last bonbon. One placer scored extremely well on the bonbon (nearly double anyone else) but only third on showpiece. And one eGulleter scored third place on their cake, very well on their bonbon but near last on their showpiece. In general, year after year, you must score in the top four of each element in order to place in the top four overall. And as noted before, the competition deliberately and explicitly privileges tasting over the artistic or technical achievements of the showpiece, so competitors know the hurdle ahead of them. If you want to just demonstrate how amazing a showpiece you can build, you can always exhibit at the Salon of Culinary Art that the Societe Culinaire Philanthropique puts on at the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City each November. There is always some beautiful stuff there (and not coincidentally, Sal Settepani won the top award there this past year).
  12. Judging combined a cake (65 points, or approx. 43% of overall), bonbon (20 points, or 13%) and the technical/artistic assessment of the showpiece (65 points or 43%). So you don't necessarily see the pieces of 1st, 2nd or 3rd as being "better" in that order, its only one aspect of the judging. But it is the only one I can share here Well, first of all the theme was Under the Sea, so all the pieces here (and the other 11 pieces I didn't post pictures of) tend to repeat some visual elements. This competition requires an approximate balance of 50% chocolate, 50% sugar elements. The mechanics of combining the two and the different weight-bearing abilities drives many competitors to have a chocolate base or center from which the sugar elements emerge, so that creates some visual sameness. Is this what you're seeing? Or do you mean something different?
  13. The carp in Wing Cheung's piece appeared to be curved cast sugar for the body, surrounding the pastillage "ribs", blown sugar for the upper and lower portion of the head, and bubble sugar for the fins along the back.
  14. I've ordered from them maybe 25 times over two years, mostly over the internet but occasionally over the telephone, and most recently about 9 months ago. My experience was great, finding them mostly reliable and very helpful when something went wrong with the order (wrong quantity or size, or once a missing item). As I'm in Manhattan I had same-day deliveries all but the last two times, and so usually dealt with the head of customer service/ordering who personally delivered the goods for their same-day delivery in Manhattan. Later I moved out of their delivery zone and so had my orders shipped by UPS. I even had the head of the company leave me a voicemail asking if I had any questions or concerns and welcoming me as a customer the first time I saved a shopping cart on their site. I'm sorry to hear of your experience. If you search eGullet you'll find that most eG'ers seem to have had similar experiences to mine (this is where I first heard of them). Perhaps they've grown too much over the past few years. If I hear more voices like yours I'll find somewhere else to shop.
  15. The 19th U.S. Pastry Competition was held this past Sunday, March 9th. For more information, visit the ParisGourmet website The winners: 1st place - Wing Cheung, Grand Hyatt Hotel (New York): 2nd place - Anthony Smith, Cosmopolitan Club (New York): 3rd place - Salvatore Settepani, Pasticceria Bruno (New York): Honorable mention (4th place) - Javier Trujillo (Chicago):
  16. In my health dept. training class here in NYC, we were told that some counties and states across the U.S. require NSF-certification for every single food-prep item in the operation, from mixers and refrigerators to ladles and hotel pans. Some of our hotel pans here in my restaurant are simple, steel pans but have NSF-certification.
  17. I'd have to check my copy of Greweling when I get it back from whomever "borrowed" it to see if different recipes of his might use varying approaches, but his basic technique that I've followed many times since, for both his recipes and those from Wybauw, Bellouet and others, is to cool the cream mixture (incorporating invert sugar, glucose, puree, whatever else the recipe entails) after heating back down to the working temperature of the tempered, melted, fluid chocolate. Then the emulsion using an immersion blender proceeds beautifully and swiftly, as does the addition of butter if called for. And the crystalization of the slab proceeds evenly and quickly. Relying on the hot cream to melt the chocolate has produced uneven results for me. Sometimes good, sometimes not. It's not as controllable, as the crystalization (temper) of unmelted chocolate even "straight" from the manufacturer never seems to be as reliable a bet as directly tempering it yourself.
  18. Macarons (practice makes perfect, after eventually producing thousands for several charity events)--thank you to everyone who contributed to the macaron thread: What else: Using a guitar, layering, dipping and decorating chocolate bonbons (thanks to everyone in the various JPW and other threads), croissants and other viennoiserie, more practice casting and sculpting chocolate, airbrushing chocolate and sugar, silicon moldmaking. I got the chance to solidify classroom learning on breadmaking and a hundred other topics by finally applying them day-in-and-out fulltime (doing things occasionally doesn't provide the same reinforcement and feedback necessary for learning). And now finishing the second of eight weeks in a cast with a doubly-fractured ankle, I can't wait to get back to learning more in 2008 (oh yeah, and walking too)
  19. He's been at MadMac for at least a year. Fauchon closed down all their production facilities in New York long before the Park Avenue location closed (shipping in the stock from France for the Park Avenue location once it was the only remaining store here). It's a shame, the production facilities were really nice, I got to spend a morning there.
  20. In my copy (and that of everyone I know) of Jean-Pierre Wybauw's Fine Chocolates book, there is an omission that is driving me crazy. On page 141, in his recipe for Palet d'Or, there are 3 alternative formulas. In the third formula (cream, dark chocolate, invert sugar and butter), there is no quantity specified for the chocolate. Does anyone have a copy with the amount listed? This seems to be omitted in both the English and French editions.
  21. I've used a few over time, usually when a vendor doesn't tell us they've switched brands before filling our order. They're ok. If I remember correctly, the prices are about the same as Boiron and therefore lower than Cap'Fruit and Ravifruit. There wasn't any problem with the flavor being noticeably different, but the colors certainly were. Their apricot puree, for example, was dark, more like a brownish-rusty hue than Boiron's, which is far brighter, almost carrot-colored. But this happens between each brand - the same mousse made with Cap'Fruit's raspberry is a deep, luscious red where with Boiron's raspberry it's a solid pink. If you are producing one-off items it isn't a problem, but if you need rows of pastries in a display case that all look identical, it could be a concern. Or if the vividness of a mousse or gelee's color being a part of the design of an entremet. Sticking with a brand may make sense. The packaging is a small pail, which I find much less convenient in the tight confines of a freezer than the long boxes of Boiron. And our Sicoly pails weren't completely filled by the kilo of puree, maybe 20 percent unused, so there is more wasted space than Boiron's box. For the same price, I'd choose Boiron but each brand has flavors the other doesn't so you may want to try Sicoly and draw your own conclusions.
  22. The difference in price (about 90-110 vs. 200-250) is usually whether its fixed or not, or whether it has the comb feature. If you always want to slide a specific height, like always just for biscuit or for chocolate, a fixed raplette is fine (or even make your own our of thin sheet metal). But the usefulness of adjusting the height is wonderful. The more expensive ones have a set of thumbscrews for attaching a set of fluted combs (curved, sawtooth, etc) to use as well. You have to pay attention as I have seen vendors use pictures and descriptions of raplettes indiscriminantly, showing or describing an adjustable one when they're offering the fixed one, etc. Low prices should make you check twice what you're ordering.
  23. Here in NYC we are required to eliminate artificial sources of trans fat, not natural. But some places around the nation are requiring zero trans fat in the finished product, which is causing headaches as butter naturally contains some trans fat. Yikes. My assumption is that your local health department trumps the USDA, but this might not be true if one was producing for wholesale distribution as opposed to as a retail bakery. [Appended: see the following New York Times article about the complications of butter and trans fat: Trans Fat Fight Claims Butter as a Victim
  24. Last summer I had the opportunity to meet with officials from several culinary/hospitality programs in France, including some from your list. During these discussions the officials very kindly tried to highlight some of the differences between my American concepts of schools and those in France. As I understand it, there isn't as clear a distinction between public and private programs as you might find in the United States. Some programs (like Bellouet and Bajard) are clearly private, but the "public" programs are a mix, like CFAs. At CFAs, most students are apprentices subsidized by "la taxe d'apprentissage" assessed on businesses. But other students are paying their own way. Some schools even blend the two so the same physical facility and the same classes are a mix of students enrolled in two separate schools, one public, one private. The question of whether a foreign student could attempt an apprentissage came up, and the answer was a qualified yes, that exceptions could be made to the usual processes. But it's not likely a simple matter and you'd have to contact one of the public programs (or a mixed one, like Ferrandi) for a more concrete answer. As apprentissages are often several months of schooling alternating with several months of working for your sponsoring business, over a several year period, it might be "longer term" than you're actually looking for. That said, some of the private programs you've listed have excellent reputations, which I know you don't want to rely on, but it's all I have to go on. All of the French pastry chefs I've worked with here in the United States have expressed the highest regard and reverence for Joel Bellouet and his school. Bajard's program has also been viewed as excellent, and ENSP as good. I've toured Ferrandi's facilities myself and was extremely impressed. The last one on your list I've never heard of. For what it's worth, if I won the lottery tonight I'd be a student at Bellouet Conseil as soon as it could be arranged.
  25. It's easier than all that. Make an Italian meringue, not a Swiss: use a puree of your fruit (strawberries, here) and perhaps a bit of sugar together brought to 121C to pour over the whipping egg whites. I've done it in the past with raspberries and it's delicious. I just can't recall specific ratios at the moment, but the technique is sound. You can then pipe it atop something as is or pipe into shapes and bake. Look at basic Italian meringue recipes as a starting point.
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