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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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    St. Louis, MO

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  1. OK, it sounds like you've got things well under control then. I would suggest browsing the pastry forum which has a few topics on starting a chocolate business. Those might have what you're looking for.
  2. I highly encourage you (since you're in the US) to reach out to your Small Business Development Center. Their experts can walk you through the development of a business plan, which will cover all of these questions and more. Please take this comment in the spirit of helpfulness it is intended - your original question suggests that you have very limited knowledge of running an operation like this, and the failure rate of new businesses is so high, and in chocolate with ever rising CoDB the risk is even higher. My original SBDC consultant (which is a free service) told me that their job is to talk me out of starting a business, because if they couldn't do that then I likely had a solid plan for success. Best wishes in following your dream!
  3. A friend bought this for me. This is the level of book I'm looking for. It will help me with my Mandarin lessons, and get better with my Chinese pastry.
  4. I've noticed butter making an impact lately as well. And which pig and which level of refinement certainly makes a difference. Ours didn't have that smell or flavor at all, but I know in the past we've had some strong flavored lard. Since these were just for me it didn't really matter.
  5. We just slaughtered a pig for the restaurant so lard it was
  6. And I was hungry for something sweeter so I made the traditional Taiwanese pineapple cookie/finger. My crust was too short, but the filling is so much better than store bought.
  7. Today I played with sesame cakes - shāobîng (烧饼) Quick flaky pastry filled with Chinese sesmae paste and crushed toasted peanuts.
  8. Now is as good of a time as any to ramble on my day off. We're up for our 3rd JBF recognition this year, and I feel like I understand the process so much better than in the past. JBF has undergone so many changes in recent years, and I've got more industry supporters now than my first nom, that more of those friends are sharing with me what no one tells you about the process. Over the past weekend we served a minimum of 5 judges. I research all of our guests to know who I am serving, and how to best tailor their meal, so 5 guests were pretty obvious...who knows how many others might have come in. It's a stressful time for staff because there are no off-nights allowed. There never are in fine dining, but service is even more intense than normal knowing the consequences. They're also very aware that it will reman this way until the first week in April and so we are talking about how to best care for ourselves and each other. Last fall we missed an amazing opportunity with a national outlet because we had an off night at the worst possible time. I've beaten myself up ever since...recognizing that we're human and can't be perfect at all times. That gaff was a harsh call-back to New Mexico when I blew an opportunity to be a Best New Chef for Food and Wine when they asked me how long I had been cooking, and I gave them the wrong date because I didn't understand the consequences of rounding my answer. I think the JBF process still has some structural flaws (to my outsider knowledge). The biggest is that X number of judges are used to examine X number of restaurants. First, the judges have to be able to grab a seat in the restaurant (I take care of my staff so we're closed 2 weeks after NYE which means 2 weeks of not being able to seat judges; and I have private events on the books that block judges from grabbing seats), and then if they CAN get seats judges don't necessarily go to every restaurant on the semi-finalist list. And I assume they have to pay their own way so a higher ticket restaurant like mine may not be in the budget of all judges (I would suppose JBF would offer scholarships for some judges). The point being, I know I have a smaller group of judges visiting me than some of my peers. My guess is then that restaurants with more seat opportunities, and lower price points are more likely to get more judges. And I don't know how things are tabulated, but I would hope that the more places you visit the more power your score has, but IDK. That's not griping, just analyzing. Related to all of that, I think the more restaurants represented in one community, the worse the odds because you essentially split the vote. IDK know how the initial selection happens, but just acknowledging what seems to be basic math for those of us in large geographic regions. On another note however, I am so thankful that the judges are more diverse. I'm glad farmers, activists, academics and all of the peripheral professions related to restaurants, are now included. That certainly will help deter the old boys clubs and nepotism in awards. And I think judging what the standards and goals for restaurants can shift from the perfect quenelle to a meaningful meal. Anyway, just rambling to my eG friends since my beginning was in this forum, and my heart remains, even if my keyboard time has disappeared.
  9. Here we are a couple of months later and his channel is still silent. I hope we haven't lost him forever.
  10. It's a melon fork. You can scrape with the back tines/bar to release the melon, and then use the front to eat.
  11. Here are a couple of classics I've done recently. Pineapple buns. I was playing with patterns on these. And sesame balls - mine are filled with sweet Missouri black turtle bean - my localization of red bean filling.
  12. Last fall for Mid-Autumn Festival I made these mooncakes. One is very traditional wu ren (5 nut) and the other was my bastardized St Louis style which was gooey butter cake filling. I was playing with colored doughs on this set.
  13. I started THIS topic because I've been making more and more pastries since we only have one Chinese bakery in St Louis and I'm tired of running up to Chicago just for my fix. I've been building my cookbook collection, but mostly I'm still using YouTube channels - especially Daddy's Cooking Career which is heavy on pastry. I thought I'd share what I'm making to see who else might be baking or making pastries. There seems to be a lot of nuance as to what is from mainland China, Taiwan, and surrounding countries, so I'll do my best to be accurate in my attributions. Anyway, today I made this peanut pastry. Barely sweet, fried and crushed peanuts with peanut/sesame paste, wrapped in a traditional water and oil dough. Not sure what this one is called, if anything specific at all, but very nice with my morning tea. ETA: a friend just told me this is 花生酥餅 and likely inspired by a Shanghia-ese red bean pancake 豆沙窩餅. FWIW, here is St Louis we have: Wei Hong (Cantonese bakery and restaurant) Foundry Bakery (Taiwanese bakery) And up in Chicago there are many but I typically go to: Chiu Quon (Oldest Chinese bakery in the city) Sweet Bean Bakery and Coffee Shop (Taiwanese...my absolute favorite! Worth the 5 hour drive each way)
  14. Let me try this, because, geez, how do I summarize 5 years?! If anyone has anything specific they want to know I can easily respond to questions...FWIW, I am wrapping up a paper on 5 years of operating as a Reparative Restaurant. HERE's a link to the working doc.
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