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Fat Guy

Louisa Chu's Stage at ADPA

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Congratulations Louisa! Less than a week to go... any jitters yet or has the euphoria of a new adventure taken over everything?

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Rhea, thanks! Yep, start on Monday. I know I should be out of my mind, but I don't really feel anything yet. I think if I start to let myself feel something that I'll be overwhelmed. I just can't wait to get suited up and back in the game.

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Rhea, thanks! Yep, start on Monday. I know I should be out of my mind, but I don't really feel anything yet. I think if I start to let myself feel something that I'll be overwhelmed. I just can't wait to get suited up and back in the game.

This is where we're supposed to say: YOU GO, GIRL!


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Thanks hollywood! Just finishing breakfast - a choked bite of baguette and Nutella. I leave in about half an hour - the last few minutes of my pre-Ducasse life! Mercifully it's rainy and grey again in Paris - just the way it's supposed to be. Thanks again!

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bon chance, louisa--and keep us posted---quickly. one can only keep one's fingers crossed for so long! (what is the french equivalent of "fingers crossed for luck", i wonder?)


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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Thanks hollywood! Just finishing breakfast - a choked bite of baguette and Nutella. I leave in about half an hour - the last few minutes of my pre-Ducasse life! Mercifully it's rainy and grey again in Paris - just the way it's supposed to be. Thanks again!

Best of luck. BTW, did your Nutella have a pic of Kobe on it? I think they've dropped him.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Loufood

I've been hanging out for a week now waiting and waiting to hear how your first days went - I'm a nervous wreck :biggrin: Please, please give us an update.

Paul

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Loufood

I've been hanging out for a week now waiting and waiting to hear how your first days went  - I'm a nervous wreck  :biggrin: Please, please give us an update.

Paul

I'm with you, Paul. Somehow I get the feeling we're going to get another thrill packed report this Friday. I sure hope so. I like cliff hangers, but only for so long.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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My guess is that Lou's free time may be close to nonexistent at this point and her concentration is on getting all she can from being a kitchen slave. I suspect she's got her mind on not screwing up during the first week as well. The rest of us have either got to be patient or get ourselves a stage in Ducasse's kitchen if we want to know more quickly. :laugh:


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I have found a partial answer to the absence of Loufood. All of the new stagiaires at the restaurant were asked to make something totally representative of their home country. Louisa started a search for some all-American desserts, and the following tells of her results. It is taken from Gail's Recipe Swap at the Epicurious website.

Thought about what you all said - and took

into consideration what the French think are

classic American desserts and what

ingredients we have on hand - and came up

with a menu:

Apple Pie a la Mode

Brownies a la Mode

Pecan Pie

Cheesecake

Strawberry Shortcake

Peach Cobbler a la Mode

And our apprentice chef - Vincent - wants to

do chocolate cookies too.

I brought my Mrs. Fields' cookbook -

autographed from my former life as a talk

show producer - and the Philly cream cheese

recipe. After lunch we knocked out one batch

each of Mrs. Fields' brownies and pecan pie,

and the cheesecake.

I can't even tell you how awful the brownies

were! I was so distraught! They were not

nearly chocolately enough - what a waste of

Valrohna chocolate - and completely dry! It

was so sad - it was like styrofoam.

The chefs seemed really freaked out about

the long baking time for a whole pecan pie -

almost an hour - so we did so trial

individual ones instead. I said they should

bake until they're kind of like a set creme

brulee - which is just what they looked like

on top - but when we cut into one it was too

liquid in the center. More baking was

yielded only OK results. Tasty but the

texture was not right. Oh and did I mention

that we have no corn syrup? We substituted

half glucose and half honey instead.

The cheesecake seemed good but it seemed to

puff a little too much - even though we

lowered the oven temp and cooked it in a

bain marie - as advised by our sous-chef -

Pierre-Eric - who actually worked in the

States for 6 years and had a lot of

experience with American desserts. And since

there are no graham crackers here in France

we used a combo of crushed, baked pastry

crust with cream crackers, honey, and maple

syrup - and a little bit of cinnamon. I do

have French Laundry's recipe for graham

crackers next time. We'll try the cheesecake

tomorrow after it's chilled overnight.

We think it's a problem with a difference in

the ingredients - and the conversions. I'm

going to check some other conversion charts -

and we're going to try again tomorrow.

But otherwise - it was a blast! How much fun

is life when you get to spend the whole

afternoon knocking out one dessert after

another?

Any tips would really be appreciated!

National pride is at stake!

Interesting note - the French think that

Americans are obsessed with cinnamon!

Thanks again for all your help!

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Fat Guy, you rock. And you're such a sweetheart - don't worry, I won't tell.

Priscilla, that's so cool. Thanks for risking your rep - we won't tell on that either.

Cherie, the French don't say such sentimental things. - it's "merde" for just about everything.

hollywood, no Kobe on the Nutella here. They know Jordan and the Lakers and that's about it for the NBA. But it was a special promotional 850 g jar - disappearing too fast!

Paul, you were a nervous wreck? Yeah, I know the feeling!

Bux, you got that ESP thing going on!

And Mark, thanks for the preview - but I was getting to it!

So, end of the second week now - but really the end of the first real week.

The first day started out like one of those nightmares again. I show up at the employee entrance security desk and they send me over to the admin offices next door. I ring - no answer. I wait across the street like a stalker - until I see the office girls show up right at 9AM - give them a few minutes, then go ring again - again no answer. I could hear them behind the door - and the bell ring too. Wait 5 minutes - then ring and knock sharply again. Door finally opens. Ushered in - I fill out forms, they copy my updated Carte de Sejour in my passport, and then they give me my official Plaza Athenee employee ID card. I'm giddy - funny how it's the little things that make life tangible. I'm taken next door - pass through security with my own card - then very briefly introduced to the pastry department. They look really surprised - which makes me really uncomfortable. Then taken over and issued uniforms - this will change my life - and shown the locker room - full-sized locker and even showers! Left alone to change with instructions to report directly to the kitchen. Change - tuck a pastry scraper into my back pocket and pen and Sharpie into the front of my jacket - then grab my big Ziploc of pastry essentials - oven mitts, Microplane, box cutter, metal straightedge, etc. I walk in and it's a whirlwind of introductions - I remember almost no names - but am pleasantly surprised that everyone pauses to shake hands - or elbows if they're working with something already. Then I'm generally shown where things are in the kitchen. The first task I'm given is to place three tiny thyme sprigs on rasberry tarts. I was surprised that my hands were not shaking. The tart bases are about 3 inches in diameter, piled high with a mound of berries. How the hell I was able to tuck the thyme in without knocking any berries off I don't know. I then watched as an apprentice piped a snowball of cream onto other tarts - muttering merde when they weren't perfect to his eye, scraping off, then starting over - and passing them to me to lightly sprinkle powdered sugar, then even more lightly cocoa powder. Cleaning, rearranging - I thought, you mean there's a place in the professional pastry world for obsessive compulsives like me? Then came a slightly nightmarish call - report back to the admin offices. One of the sous-chefs takes me over - there's a problem with my Carte de Sejour - it's not the right one. I have no idea. A few calls later - while I imagine being yanked out of my fantasy - I'm cleared to go back into the kitchen. Then there's the first cleaning. I start wiping politely when the others start pouring soapy buckets onto the marble counters and on the floors until we're all standing in about an inch or two on the floor. It doesn't phase anyone - who continue walking around with impossibly perfectly decorated petit fours without fearing a disastrous slip and fall. Top to bottom cleaning. Then lunch - an hour - all together. My hopes of cooking staff meals was dashed with the discovery of the employee restaurant. But it's a French employee restaurant - so we have a fully-loaded cheese tray, poulet frites, and wine - and all the cool kids sit in the smoking section so that's where our tribe goes. After lunch I measure out a recipes - held in 11 binders I think - before I'm off to the official Welcome Day. Back to the admin offices and then an informative but lenghty slideshow followed by a tour of the hotel. The best part? The gastro kitchen. We walk up just as they're having a full meeting. Someone once described them to me as the Olympic athletes of cuisine - and they look every bit the part - like athletes and thoroughbreds milling on the infield, chomping at the bit. They stare at me - and I stare back at them. I chomp on my bit too - I want to be in there too. End of the first day.

The days so far have been variations of the same - but with fast increasing responsibilities. On the second day I actually made my first own recipe - a blackberry tea infused chocolate ganache - remembering to shake out the air from the immersion blender so there were no bubbles in the finished product - but almost making the fatal mistake of putting it in the walk-in fridge - their ganache never goes in the fridge unlike at school.

And yes, all stagiaires are asked to make something representative of their countries - I choose American. I threaten them with Elvis' butter fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches much to their horrified delight - but that's not really a dessert. Hot fudge brownie sundaes?

And I'm helping one of the apprentices develop an American dessert menu. There was a surreal moment when I was explaining The Cheesecake Factory - with which the gastro pastry chef was familiar and amusingly added that the portions were enorme - enormous. But my recipe conversions and the ingredient differences wreaked havoc on our results so far. We'll try again soon.

So far the stage has been more mentally than physically exhausting. And despite the cleaning - have I mentioned the afternoon general cleaning we do with toothbrushes? - I'm completely giddy. Exhausted and giddy.

Thanks so much for your interest.

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How often is The Man himself in the kitchen?

Good luck!


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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Wow! BTW, the toothbrushes you use for cleaning, are they just ordinary ones, or the fancy ones they sell in Paris--mock tortoise shell, etc.?


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Blimey!

From showbiz correspondant to ganache-blender-in-chief at one of the world's greatest restaurant, all in the space on twelve months!

Inspiration for the rest of us office-bound dreamers

You've come a long way! Congratulations!

J

PS wots wrong with the peanut butter thing? It looked scrumptious when I saw it on the "what elvis ate" documentary (admittedly alongside the panfried squirrel entree). Something along the lines of "millefeuille 'Elvis' du pain frit au beurre, puree d'arachide, gellee aux fruits rouges" perhaps? ;-)


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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fresh_a, The Man himself was around this past week - more often than you'd think from what I hear. And thanks!

hollywood, are you kidding? Real tortoiseshell - vintage - specially raised - organic pig bristles. :laugh:

Jon, oh yeah, that ganache is mine - all mine baby. You know there are no squirrels in Paris? I suspect they were all eaten during one of the plagues - but that's another story. And thanks!

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Wow, AD in person in one of his kitchens!

I don't know how he manages it while teleguiding all of his other establishments..


Anti-alcoholics are unfortunates in the grip of water, that terrible poison, so corrosive that out of all substances it has been chosen for washing and scouring, and a drop of water added to a clear liquid like Absinthe, muddles it." ALFRED JARRY

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hollywood, are you kidding? Real tortoiseshell - vintage - specially raised - organic pig bristles.  :laugh:

So, that's how you get three rosettes from Michelin!


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Wow, AD in person in one of his kitchens!

I don't know how he manages it while teleguiding all of his other establishments..

Hey, hey, hey - watch it now - you're talking about my fearless leader. Well, there anyway - here's it's Fat Guy. :wub:

hollywood, that and did I mention the artisanal soap and mineral water? :wink:

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bon chance, louisa--and keep us posted---quickly. one can only keep one's fingers crossed for so long! (what is the french equivalent of "fingers crossed for luck", i wonder?)

"Merde!"

Sorry for the late response; I was too busy eating my way through Malaysia to check the other boards. :raz:


Michael aka "Pan

 

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Louisa, I'm really happy to hear that you're not just washing stuff all day, which is what it had sounded to me like you'd be doing, given that you were chosen to be a stagiaire in the restaurant's laundry service.

Any update on your sister and the amorous Frenchmen?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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hollywood, that and did I mention the artisanal soap and mineral water?  :wink:

The clean up woman

Will wipe his blues away.

She'll give him penny lovin'

24 hours a day.

The clean up woman,

She'll sweep him off his feet.

She's the one

To take him in when you dump him in the street.

So take a tip,

You better get hip

To the clean up woman,

'Cause she's tough.

I mean she really cleans up.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Whose song is that, Hollywood?


Michael aka "Pan

 

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