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alanamoana

pastry chef recognition

69 posts in this topic

Well Steve did hit all the right points. Good job of cutting thru all our c---.

All my excuses are lame. I try to do the best I can with-in my limits (family obligations). I guess the answer is I'm not ready to commit to rising above the excuses. Mainly-I fear investing even more financially and emotionally into a career that I don't see offering a rewarding return. And I'm not talking finacially rewarding-I just see employement as a pc as a horribly shrinking, becoming extinct job opportunity.

Sinclair,

Nice reply and Steves post packs it home even more.

I KNOW, no matter how screwed up everything is right now with the economy, etc., etc., it's not THAT dire!

it's been a weord summer, falls coming , let's get ready for it.

More parties means more work, new stuff to work with.

I really feel it's gonna be ok.


2317/5000

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okay everybodyALANA HENNING

you read it here first!!! i'm not shy....and steve you're right...if we're all bitching about recognition, the first thing to do is post using our real names. most of us don't even live in the same state :smile: so no need to worry about pastry stalkers :laugh:

steve, your points are all great as tan and sinclair both agreed...at the very least, i'm a good schmoozer. i guess the reason i place some of my value/worth with the restaurant i'm affiliated with is because i find that these restaurants are my stepping stones. if i play my cards right and hook up with the right name during an opening (when a restaurant gets the most press), the pr is paid for! this is the beginning i'm looking for. we do a lot of charity, etc. (usually the chef is the only one invited, but i would always ask to tag along). it worked really well in san francisco and by the time i left the city, i was the one being called to do charity gigs. unfortunately, that was when i decided to leave the city...but that's okay! i can continue to do the same things in new york...

i didn't want to start a whiny thread, and i have to admit that i'm very lucky. i moved up quickly in this business and definitely got recognition that i probably didn't deserve at the time...but i save those 2 seconds of fame (in a scrapbook for my parents...all the money wasn't wasted :laugh: ), because i know i'm due a few more at least! i know that i can only improve...if i push myself like you say. i just have to decide in what capacity and at what level! we'll all get there...we'll find our niche and make a comfy little nest there!

i just hope that everyone found some of this information useful! i'm thankful that eGullet is here for all of us!

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Alana--you should feel so gratified as well that as a newbie to eGullet, unknown to any of us, you prompted such an outpouring, such an interesting discussion. That's one of the things that makes this nascent community we have here so special and unparalleled. I've read some perfunctory pieces on "recognition" before but I've never seen it addressed so realistically, so emotionally. That post by Michael Laiskonis on this thread is one of the best summaries from a savvy pastry chef I've ever read. It's a shame that something like that has never appeared in an old media outlet--let alone the discussion which sandwiches it. And you will have a lot to add as you make the switch from West coast to East coast!

Also, no one is saying restaurants aren't stepping stones--just look at who gets nominated for the Beard awards and who steps beyond that to a FoodTV show or a cookbook or something entrepreneurial--a la a chocolate business or patisserie! If we look closer we all can learn something from these people who have come before even if we may not choose to try to emulate them. It is the rare non-restaurant pastry chef who garners votes and who steps forward, but we all can step forward.

Hotel pastry chefs rarely get the fine-dining consideration like this--but they also make their choice going into "foodservice," they (generally) get a great salary compared to what a free-standing restaurant pastry chef makes, supervises a large staff, does a lot of banquets, buys and uses a lot of commercial products and in turn is more likely to get featured in industry magazines like a Pastry Art & Design, which is in turn supported by the product manufacturers. In a sense it is much harder for them to get more mainstream recognition for their work--in say a Bon Appetit--regardless of their ability or how their desserts taste.

Which leads back to: you make your choices, you're responsible for your own mistakes and missteps, and you realize there isn't necessarily a right way to go about things. You define for yourself what the appropriate level of recognition and reward is. And hopefully you manage to keep finding little joys in your work.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Hello Alana! Thanks for a wonderful thread. As always, eGullet prompts discussions that are so varied and rich.

I was looking at Food Arts magazine the other day and was somewhat confused to not find Steve Klc's name on the mast head. Then, as I browsed another magazine, I saw him featured. And I said, for a pastry chef that is working, it would be far better to be featured than be writing about what they love. I share this for I realize that Steve Klc is a very savvy man. Read his words with care. He is not a newbie to most fields where he shares his strengths. And all that are able to learn from him, watch him, and emulate him, will find themselves in a happy situation.

His words on this thread made me find respect for him anew. It is always nice to have people who continue to impress you. In this new media outlet (since Steve calls the other "Old Media Outlet") one often has to skim far too much scum before reaching real substance. Steve is the real thing... old or new. What is great is, we in this new media outlet, are fanning the ego of the old media by giving kudos to those that find themselves in the old outlets. My point is, there is space for both outlets, and a clever person gives and takes from both. And can find time and respect for both.

Steve is a classic example of one that has mastered the art of using his talents, passions and convictions and translating them to success in both old and new media outlets as well as in his profession.

For those that are self-employed, I am too, we need to be less bashful, less circumspect at times, and more self serving. It is a very hard way to be, but I have seen newbies that were less bashful and generous to others than me, and far less talented, climb high ropes and find great success, only for they were bold enough to shatter the first challenge, one of getting into a door.

"i didn't want to start a whiny thread, and i have to admit that i'm very lucky. i moved up quickly in this business and definitely got recognition that i probably didn't deserve at the time...but i save those 2 seconds of fame (in a scrapbook for my parents...all the money wasn't wasted ), because i know i'm due a few more at least! i know that i can only improve...if i push myself like you say. i just have to decide in what capacity and at what level! we'll all get there...we'll find our niche and make a comfy little nest there!"

Alana, you said the above so beautifully. I wish more people would remember this reality. We could then have many that find opportunities, share with others what comes their way. Far too many chefs (savory or pastry), find it difficult to share with their Hands, that which comes to them after the magical effect their Hands leave on the diners. Too many of us are afraid our creations today are our last ones. I always feel there is a very deep well of inspired dishes that shall continue to come out of the well, if we reflect, understand, respect and pasisonately seek. And when we can look at life somewhat more deeply, we can easily find ourselves in a more comfortable and enviable position. And we can finally leave lasting legacies that live beyond our own lives and generations.

Thanks for this great thread Alana.

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Does it bother any of the professionals out there when they read a restaurant review and the pastry chef's name isn't mentioned?!

And yes it bothers me a Great deal. I am always sad. I love desserts and no restaurant, no matter how many stars or great rave reviews they may have gotten, can impress me enough if the desserts are not of the same level. And often, a great pastry chef, that is having to work with an ego maniac in the savory side, will ultimately loose their passion and creativity when they realize nothing they create will bring them even a momentary gratification, for even if it does leave others smiling and happy, the pastry chef will never hear about it. Forget the reviews, often the pastry chef does not even know how the diner has been impressed by their creations. Far too many chefs and restaurant managers give very little time to this most critical element of fine dining. But I do think that trend is changing. And maybe eGullet, and this new media outlet, can change the way people in the profession treat pastry chefs.

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God, I wish there was a decent dessert restaurant here. After working in other places, Criolla's in Northwest Florida and The Grill Room at the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, it is sad to go somewhere and the desserts are just so boringly the same. My tendency is to not order desserts unless I know they are made in house. Otherwise, why spend the money on a piece of Turtle cheesecake that possibly came from Sam's Club. I have seen that done.

And if they come out with the crosshatch chocolate and raspberry sauces, i tend to not touch them. Plating is important.

When I was at the WCH, I worked with David Guas (one of the featured chefs in the Bon Appetit Restaurant issue). We did some pretty cool stuff and it was not all that hard to put together. I am glad to see David get that recognition.

Make better desserts and presentations, then I will spend my money to enjoy the end of the meal and it would possibly include a nice dessert wine to go with the dessert. Not just a cup of coffee and the check. The restaurant would make more money, the waiter would make a better tip, all would be happy.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.

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my roomate, a total non-food industry person, offered this when i asked him about desserts in  restaurants:

"I'm usually full.  I mean, i like dessert, don't get me wrong.  But it's so rare i go to a restaurant where the dessert isn't just something thawed out by the fucking waiter."

supports most of what you've all said.

You said it!

Believe it or not, New Jersey (land of 1000 chain restaurants) has a newspaper, the Star-Ledger, that always calls attention to the desserts in its reviews. Are they in-house or bought from a vendor? Are they unique or same-old, same old? Are they stellar or bland, or does the chessecake still have ice crystals in it?

Gotta give them some credit, that's one critic that shares my appreciation for in-house desserts.


"Give me 8 hours, 3 people, wine, conversation and natural ingredients and I'll give you one of the best nights in your life. Outside of this forum - there would be no takers."- Wine_Dad, egullet.org

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4.

Keep your recipes on your computer- easy to access/edit and they can be emailed instantly. When the piece finally comes out, follow up with a thanks and an eagerness to work with them again in the future. Better yet, let them know when they have a story on their hands. Update your local press when you launch a new menu, or when you discover some new ingredient. Hype the local farmer who's getting you those beautiful peaches or that seedy asian market that is likely a chef's playground. You  see some story in the NY Times of a chef using tobacco in desserts? Give the scoop to your local editor, saying that you can top that! They run a wire service bit on Pierre Herme using salt in his desserts, invite them into your place so they can taste something that you're doing, demonstrating why it works. It's simply about getting on their radar.

If you live in a modest metropolitan area, you could probably name a half dozen daily, weekly, or monthly publications with limited, local circulation. If you don't know the food editor or writer by name, it's time to do some homework. Know their phone numbers and email addresses; know who they think is good and not so. They need you to generate interesting copy, and you need them to get some attention. Use them. Same goes with your local radio and television stations; if you or your restaurant has something to promote, give it a shot. They all love free food- especially dessert.

4b. Take your show on the road. So you may not get an invite to Aspen or the Masters in Carmel, but once you get a fair amount of notice, you'll get asked to do all sorts of events- it might be a class for the church ladies, or a big charity gig. If your higher ups are willing to donate the food, you should be willing to donate the time. At first, say yes to everything. You'll learn a lot about setting up a demo and speaking to people the more you force yourself to do it.

Michael -

I'd add a few comments to your excellent guidelines.

4) The wireservices for many papers (NY Times, Wash Post, Chicago Tribune) usually have a delay in distribution from when the original story ran. If your local paper reprints food articles from the Times a week later, you can prepare a local content paragraph or sidebar with your pitch and have it on the reporter's or editor's desk ready to be used. Check the source so you know what's on the way to your local editor.

5) Volunteering at food shows, food bank events, etc gets you in front of many chefs. There's always a need for people to work the line, help with plating, etc. Even if you're not the star, your get-it-done attitude will be noticed by potential employers. (one lucky eG member worked with Daniel Boulud at an event and even received a ride home from him)

Paul


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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I have five words for any pastry chef looking for recognition: get out of the restaurant.

In France, the majority of top pastry chefs work in a boutique setting. Do you think Pierre Herme would be Pierre Herme if he worked in a restaurant? Hell no! You have to get out behind the shadow of the chef, especially if that person is a chef/owner.

As a former pastry chef and present restaurant critic, I can honestly say I go out of my way to name pastry chefs in reviews. Problem is, I rarely come across one good enough to mention. Excellent restaurant pastry chefs are a rarity in my city, Montreal, though we do have excellent restaurants and very little of that oreo cheesecake crap. Problem is, many restaurant pastry chef are under the orders of the regualr chef. How many of them are really working with their own vision?

If you're looking for recognition, open a chocolate shop or pastry shop. Not only will you be the boss, you will also get all the credit.

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4)  The wireservices for many papers (NY Times, Wash Post, Chicago Tribune) usually have a delay in distribution from when the original story ran. If your local paper reprints food articles from the Times a week later, you can prepare a local content paragraph or sidebar with your pitch and have it on the reporter's or editor's desk ready to be used. Check the source so you know what's on the way to your local editor.

Awesome tip.

So, being media savvy also means paying attention to the press others are getting, and knowing how to position yourself among them. It's a way to practice that 'think globally, act locally' approach. You must make it a point to at least flip through the glossies, and browse the weekly, online food sections of the major newspapers. Once they are bookmarked, it's just a matter of a few minutes each day. And the great thing about eGullet is, most of the work is done for you, as we tend to cut through the fluff, and highlight the most relevant, meaty pieces being written.

Not only will you be keeping in touch with the current trends and issues, but the more you read and scrutinize food writing and reportage, you'll notice patterns, styles, and agendas- which in turn prepare you for dealing with the media at large.

5) Volunteering at food shows, food bank events, etc gets you in front of many chefs. There's always a need for people to work the line, help with plating, etc. Even if you're not the star, your get-it-done attitude will be noticed by potential employers. (one lucky eG member worked with Daniel Boulud at an event and even received a ride home from him)

Another pearl. I've met and worked with dozens of students and aspiring pastry chefs at all kinds of events. The learning experience and potential contacts are indeed worth the time volunteered, and as someone often being in the position of relying on such help, it is appreciated, and sometimes, crucial to the success of the event. And there are several young chefs with whom I've kept in contact with long after the event; not only does it keep them engaged and inspired, but I feel it is in my best interest (and the industry as a whole) to foster that excitement and maintain those relationships.

At my restaurant, we host a few guest chef dinners each year, and by keeping in touch with the local pastry community (chefs, assistants, and students), I've been able to provide opportunities for people to come in to my kitchen for those events, to work side by side with Nancy Silverton, Claudia Fleming, and most recently, Johnny Iuzzini. It is not uncommon for our kitchen staff to suddenly double on those days when a Morimoto, Ming Tsai, Eric Ripert, or Jean-Louis Palladin (sigh) join us to cook.


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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I haven't replied in a long time- I was going through a burned out on computer stage. This topic is of a huge interest to me. I am a Pastry Chef- it has been a long, hard struggle. I still love what I do though.

Pastry Chefs don't get a lot of recognition. I think that the American public has just started to recognize Chefs of any sort in the past twenty years. It took me ten years to convince my own parents that I had a "profession". I believe that pastry is still very new to the US. For many years "dessert" was pie, cake, cheesecake, or ice cream. I guess a small step has been made- we added creme brulee to that list!

Proving yourself valuable has gotten me to where I am. This is a business, and if you make money people notice (or at least the smart business people). I worked in a hotel in SF for three years. When I first started all the banquet desserts were purchased outside, and there was no ice cream machine. I changed that and produced all of the banquet desserts. The food cost was lowered by 2 points in less then four months. That is a lot of money in a hotel with four food outlets! I was able to get the sheeter I wanted and the ice cream machine by showing my bosses $$$.

The ice cream machine paid for itself in less then a year. I worked very hard. I am now in Hawaii- I liked the idea of having a life and doing Pastry. I certainly gave it up for a long time.

I am the Pastry Chef for Neiman Marcus (kind of unique-the only one in the company). I was lucky to have a long term friendship with the Chef. He knew that if he fought for me I would make him money. I have made them money and now they realize that yes, they do need a Pastry Chef. I get equipment and recognition by making them money (not to mention perfume samples with brownies). Sure, I still make cake, pie, and cheesecake, but I also get to make other things too. I also am home by 2:00pm! Be friendly with your servers- give them treats too and answer their questions. Make them want to sell your desserts. (I run creme brulee as a special sometimes because the servers love it- that way I don't have to have it on the menu).

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I have a slap in the face for all the legitimate hard working pastry chefs out there...............

I have worked for the majority of my adult life in NY starting as a cook and delivery person up to pastry chef, a title I feel that is earned not just given, a term of respect.

I worked with a guy who claimed to be a pastry chef for some time. We decided to do a consulting project together for a new Belgian restaurant opening. The chef knew this guy (should I post his name and website?) and asked if he could help him get open. We agreed to the project, he knowing that he lacked the skill to pull it off , let me work out the details, menu and recipes. We went in do production, I gave him some recipes (basic almond tuile) and he proceeded to screw everything up... horribly. I had to fix everything he did-Molten cakes, cooked way too long, creme brulee still raw, almond tuile batter not mixed correctly (he threw everything in the mixer and hoped it would get smooth- oh God, this guy calls himself a pastry chef....

Needless to say I saved the day, but this was just the beginning. He got backing and asked me to open a store with him. He proceeded to walk around the store like a king, while I worked like a dog (I guess to make him look good). Eventually I caught him stealing money and the owners canned him. He is pretty resilient and a great fabricator of lies and truth manipulation. He is a media madman and has parlayed his lack of skill into a tv show deal, sauce and product endorsement and many media representations- he became his own PR.

This kills me. I kind of shrug from the limelight, but I feel I have the skill (I dont know everything) to pull off the job. I have respect for thos ethat have superior skill and show them respect, he in turn hangs with them like an equal, taking pictures with Francois Payard like they are old buddies, hes got no real skill to speak of except his ability to bounce back.

So how do we stop hacks and shoemakers from stealing our thunder?

Do I sound bitter or angry? Hell Yes!!!!!!!!!! as should all us that have had their press and respect stolen by these phonies......


Edited by bripastryguy (log)

"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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i always hope that karma (or just dues or whatever you believe in) somehow lets these people know that what they're doing is wrong. i don't necessarily think it is our job to tell them or badmouth them or whatever (i know i'd be singing a different tune if i were in your shoes bripastryguy!!!). it doesn't do us any good to stoop to their level. besides, people would just think we're jealous of them because they're doing so well?!!! :blink:

i remember going to a book store and browsing through the cookbook/baking section. there was a girl there thumbing through some books which i thought weren't the best of the selection. i asked if she was buying them for herself or for a friend and said i might be able to help her pick something out. she responded "oh, i'm a pastry chef", i replied that i was a cook (i was a pastry chef at the time, but i usually don't say this) too...i asked her where she worked to which she replied "oh, i'm at the california culinary academy right now, but i'm almost done". whereupon, i walked away without saying anything else. this gets my goat as well!!! you go to school to get the very basics...you don't come out of school as an executive chef or executive pastry chef, but some people think this is a given! some of these people "know everything" already and aren't able to hear anything else that is said to them. they'll figure it out sooner or later when they fail miserably in trying to lead a department of employees just like themselves!

this person you dealt with bripastryguy, sounds just like this. he knows everthing (my mom calls me "kia" for know it all)...and seems to be great at self promotion. as much as i'd like to know his name and where he works, i'm sure if i came across him i'd figure it out without knowing! put someone in a kitchen for an hour and have them separate eggs. you can tell right away who has skills and who doesn't!

yeah, it pisses me off!

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I think there are people like that, who get the attention, though over time, fade out just as quickly. Fewer pastry chefs and more savory chefs come to my mind. And while I hate to perpetuate the idea of 'chef cliques', it's sometimes fairly easy to spot who has the respect of their peers and who doesn't, just by the company they keep. The public is easy- they'll tend to accept whoever is offered to them. Recognition from your peers is much harder, and for me, perhaps more important.

Getting burned by such people directly, sure, I can see getting a little miffed. But on the whole, while I think it is important to keep up with who the flavor of the moment is, whether deserved or not, you can't necessarily put yourself in head to head competition. If you think they are a hack, take the high road and simply transfer that to your work and resist going down the path of shit talking and whatnot. At a certain level, the chef community is really quite small, and I think alanamoana is right, there is a bit of karma in this whole business. But then again, it's not necessarily bad to have an opinion, and to voice it once in a while. Personally, I like to keep my 'enemies' to a minimum. With few exceptions, if I don't have something positive to say, I tend to keep my mouth shut!

Whenever I come across some cocky chef or cook, someone with a bit more attitude than talent, I just quietly think to myself, "OK, where will you be in five years... and where will I be?" Pondering that will usually make me feel much better!


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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I worked with a guy who claimed to be a pastry chef for some time. We decided to do a consulting project together for a new Belgian restaurant opening. The chef knew this guy (should I post his name and website?) and asked if he could help him get open. We agreed to the project, he knowing that he lacked the skill to pull it off , let me work out the details, menu and recipes. We went in do production, I gave him some recipes (basic almond tuile) and he proceeded to screw everything up... horribly. I had to fix everything he did-Molten cakes, cooked way too long, creme brulee still raw, almond tuile batter not mixed correctly (he threw everything in the mixer and hoped it would get smooth- oh God, this guy calls himself a pastry chef....

Needless to say I saved the day, but this was just the beginning. He got backing and asked me to open a store with him. He proceeded to walk around the store like a king, while I worked like a dog (I guess to make him look good). Eventually I caught him stealing money and the owners canned him. He is pretty resilient and a great fabricator of lies and truth manipulation. He is a media madman and has parlayed his lack of skill into a tv show deal, sauce and product endorsement and many media representations- he became his own PR.

This kills me. I kind of shrug from the limelight, but I feel I have the skill (I dont know everything) to pull off the job. I have respect for thos ethat have superior skill and show them respect, he in turn hangs with them like an equal, taking pictures with Francois Payard like they are old buddies, hes got no real skill to speak of except his ability to bounce back.

So how do we stop hacks and shoemakers from stealing our thunder?

Do I sound bitter or angry? Hell Yes!!!!!!!!!! as should all us that have had their press and respect stolen by these phonies......

When you "decide to do something together" your lawyer should be in the room with a contract. That defines what you get paid, what you're expected to do, what he's expected to do. It may even define your intellectual property ownership (who owns what you create). Without that ticket, you are at their mercy not to F, F and F you.

This is very common in the software industry, where you expect to hire skilled people, pay them top dollar, and get the integrated code you need and both of you go on your merry way. It really shouldn't be any different in pastry for top performers, either.

Unless, as several people have suggested, YOU own the shop.


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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agreed, Michael well said.

I think maybe that might be the reason why my business is called

"Sweet Karma Baking Company"


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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thanks Wendy.

We feel we (me and my partner) need to spread the word...............


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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