• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Fat Guy

Most impressive dessert you ever did see

71 posts in this topic

A dessert I had last night at the Mark Hotel here in New York City reminded me of what a sucker I am for showmanship in pastry. I don't think I've ever enjoyed a dessert service as much, and was hoping maybe we could all share our tales of wildly elaborate and impressive desserts.

The very clever New York pastry chef Chris Broberg, who was long at Lespinasse (during both the Gray Kunz and Christian Delouvrier eras) and later at Petrossian (working with Philippe Conticini), has been at the Mark for about a year now and has really whipped the pastry program into shape (there's definitely something of a dream-team coming together in the Mark's F&B department, which I'll post about on the NY board at some point). I'd been meaning to stop in for the longest time, and finally a promotional dinner for Mandarin Oriental hotels (the Mark is a Mandarin Oriental property) presented an easy (and free) opportunity.

The dessert that Broberg did for this dinner was a chocolate dome. It looked like a pretty normal chocolate dome: a half-sphere of chocolate with a semi-hard, shiny chocolate coating and a nice gold-leaf decoration in the middle. It was surrounded by pieces of candied fruit and such.

This was, at first, a little disappointing. I thought for sure Broberg wouldn't mail it in like this. Then again, an Upper East Side hotel with a rather low-key restaurant -- maybe he's just collecting a nice paycheck and living the good life. Or maybe for a banquet he just isn't going to do the good stuff. But when the waiters put down the dessert they said, don't eat it; the chef will be out to "explain the dessert." At this point things took a turn for the better.

Broberg and some of the line cooks appeared bearing pitchers of hot liquid chocolate, essentially the super-rich hot chocolate you'd get as a beverage at L'Aduree or Angelina's in Paris. A cook went over to the dessert of one of the women at our table and started pouring the chocolate onto the dome. He did this for about 10 seconds as a pool of chocolate started to surround the dome. Which I thought, hey, was a pretty cool touch.

But then, totally unexpected -- poof! -- the whole exterior of the dome started to disintegrate! And then, as the cook stopped pouring, the whole center part of the thing kind of collapsed into something that looked like the moon after being wrecked by a continent-sized asteroid. There were audible gasps, woahs, and holy-shits from most every person in the room. Inside the dome, it was revealed, was a whole other deal of crunchy nutty stuff and cocoa nibs all mixed in with the dome's fluffy chocolate interior and the gooey hot chocolate sauce.

Well, I'll be damned if that wasn't the most impressive dessert presentation I've ever seen. Not to mention at least three women (and one man) offered their bodies to Broberg after the meal (which is a lot even in a room full of media people).

I should add, this dessert was actually quite delicious on top of all that.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Reminds me of a dessert I only heard about, from the French Laundry a couple years ago- not sure whether it was from during Durfee's tenure or after- but the mechanics sound similar. A thin disk of chocolate was set atop some component (it's all fuzzy now), and at table, a hot liquid (maybe it was olive oil?) was spooned over the chocolate, thus melted it and creating a 'sauce.' Something tells me chefg would know about this.

Sort of a 'kinetic pastry.'


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ducasse was doing something with molten chocolate poured over cooler chocolate at ADNY early on, and my memories of it are likewise fuzzy. It had some sort of geeky Ducasse-speak name like "CHOCOLATE, bitter and sweet, for your enjoyment." As I recall the bowl came out with various chocolate things in it and the hot liquid was poured over in order to do some last-minute melting. But it wasn't nearly as dramatic as this thing with its collapsing-planetoid effect.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had that Ducasse thing, and no, it was nothing like the production you're talking about here. Just sort of hot and cold and gooey, but not as distinct -- or distinctive. Wow!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you sure that the amount of wine you had consumed by that point in the meal was not influencing you?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never experienced any pastry showmanship. And with as many desserts as I've ordered, that's a sad thing. Almost as pathetic as having to keep a Hershey Bar in the car in case my fellow diners are the sort who have "no room" left for something sweet.

Looking forward to watching this thread. Maybe I can experience some pastry showmanship during my trip to Chicago. Sure haven't found any in Austin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chefette I'm telling you there were a number of really hardcore, hard-to-impress, jaded food-media types there -- even some Brits -- and everybody who saw this was totally awestruck. It's pretty much all anybody talked about for the rest of the night. I know it's so gimmicky as to sound borderline nauseating when I describe it, but it was a really effective piece of dessert showmanship. I'm going to e-mail Broberg for some more details on the dessert (I think he said it was Guittard with high cocoa butter content) so that when Klc shows up and starts asking questions I can appear not to be a complete idiot.

So what about you all? What's the most impressive dessert you ever did see?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been lurking with this all along Shaw. I'm just so glad to hear Chris is back! and has a showcase for his talent.

It will be interesting to see if different criteria for "showmanship" emerge here; all too often the fun architectural or hokey "showmanship" came at the expense of taste. For me, I enjoy things interactive--like pouring tableside--things that exaggerate the hot and cold dynamic--and very thin brittle things which crack easily and are integral to the dessert.

But the ultimate showmanship does take place in the mouth.

I never tasted this, but I read a description of a dessert at Vetri in Philadelphia which has stayed with me over the years--warmed olive oil poured tableside onto a chocolate disk, melting it and mingling with the dessert below. Sounded like nice showmanship.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coolest dessert I've seen was white chocolate ravioli. Probably old hat to most of y'all, but I was impressed.

White chocolate softened, rolled thin and pressed into both sides of a ravioli press. The interior was filled with chocolate mousse and the whole thing pressed together to form these beautiful little white raviolis. Served with some sort of raspberry/chocolate sauce so the whole thing looked like a pastel version of ravioli with a good tomato sauce. Quite cool, I thought.

Chad


Chad Ward

An Edge in the Kitchen

William Morrow Cookbooks

www.chadwrites.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Laduree!


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

blog

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you sure that the amount of wine you had consumed by that point in the meal was not influencing you?

Yeah, FG. Are you sure you weren't tripping out?

Just kidding. The visiting Chef from LCB London made a giant Halloween chocolate sculpture today here at school, looked like a witch's hat, but we didn't get to eat it, so I guess it doesn't count.


Noise is music. All else is food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was going to get all excited telling you about the apple gateau with sweet potato creme anglaise and cinnamon chantilly topped with spun sugar that I had last night but when I read your account...well...now I feel as if I've just dined at I-Hop. :sad:


"Never eat more than you can lift" -- Miss Piggy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For shock value there's Kitty Litter Cake (someone out there has a link to it).

I know it's not in your league, but it's either that or a DQ Belly Blaster... :cool:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's all kinds of showmanship, folks, I don't think Shaw intends any criteria to be excluded.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those who know me well know I'm all about inclusive.

Sheer abundance and variety can constitute showmanship in and of themselves, as with the dessert carts and Viennese tables of old -- not to mention at Ducasse. There's a showmanship aspect to minimalism, even. And I actually think Steve Herrell's ice-cream mix-ins concept (he did create that, right?) is a brilliant example of dessert showmanship. But I think it's hard to top stuff that explodes, collapses, etc. -- destruction sells.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I did see a really marvellous, compelling dessert once that was just too beautiful and compelling. A little arched bridge and bonzai tree in chocolate with a steam of kiwi sauce and a cherry parfait. One of Msr. M's brilliantly beautiful and artistic creations in our Nation's Capitol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
A little arched bridge and bonzai tree in chocolate with a steam of kiwi sauce and a cherry parfait.

That's awesome!

Where was the parfait placed?

Do you have a picture?


Noise is music. All else is food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bananas Foster prepared tableside. If it involves fire, I'll like it. :rolleyes:


Sherri A. Jackson

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not exactly showmanship but I was impressed a number of years ago when after a long and delicious meal 9accompanied by some luscious Nuits St. George) at Chateau de Marcay near Chinon, we asked the waiter for a glass of champagne. We waited and waited. We asked what progress was being made on getting our drinks. Finally, the waiter appeared with two coupes bearing glace of champagne! I'm not sure if something got lost in the translation, or if the chef was having fun with us. BTW, it was just the thing to end the meal with.


I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well surely everyone has at some point had bananas foster prepared table side. Its always impressive not to mention extremely delicious. But that's old school.

Impressive: at a restaurant in Rome: frozen fruit brought to the table in a large bowl. opened to reveal they are filled with sorbet made from the fruit. Very beautiful dessert presentation. And tasty.

Baked Alaska: also old school, but with a twist (sherribabee will like this) Also flambeed, not table side, but on the table, liquor drizzled directly on the table top, so whole dish/presentation is surrounded by a ring of flames. No, it didn't burn the table up LOL.


Born Free, Now Expensive

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Flames are good. I'm in favor of flames. Flames are right up there with exploding and collapsing things. But I think I'm pretty much desensitized to the old gimmick of just lighting some liqueur on fire in order to create flames. I would need much more serious flames to be impressed at this point.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you as impresssed with the guy who slices your entire banana without ever touching it with his hands or peeling it - then he opens it up for you on your plate with his white gloved hands and voila! sliced banana. So its really the waiter that you are interested in - not so much the dessert. Alas, poor hard working pastry chef forgotten in the back (oops, I forgot if all you are doing is setting things on fire for the guests there is not so much work in the back of the house. )

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. That's a huge step above "simple" architectural desserts.

Bruce

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Are you as impresssed with the guy who slices your entire banana without ever touching it with his hands or peeling it - then he opens it up for you on your plate with his white gloved hands and voila!  sliced banana.  So its really the waiter that you are interested in - not so much the dessert.

I personally prefer waitresses to waiters or desserts, but that does sound pretty cool.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • A Wolf, a Viking, and a French macaron walk into a bar...
      By pastrygirl
      I'm frustrated!  The restaurant kitchen has two gas convection ovens, a Wolf with a 6-burner top and a Viking with a French flat top top.  The Wolf has long been the pastry oven and I've baked approximately a zillion things in it, including a few thousand French macarons.  Unfortunately the Wolf has been out of commission and I'm left with the Viking.  The cream puffs, brownies, and shortbread have been baking fine, but I've had two batches of French macaron with really poor foot development and some cracking on top.  I made a batch today and gave at least a third of the shells to staff because of poor rise.  I don't think I rushed the drying, they seemed appropriately skinned-over before baking.  It's a nice sunny day and I've made plenty of macarons in the rain so I don't think it's the weather.  The Viking seems like a moister heat when I open the oven, is it possible that one make of oven would create a more humid heat, or have I simply lost my macaron mojo?  Help!
    • What went wrong with these cookies?
      By Nancy in Pátzcuaro
      Last night I made "Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies (flourless)" for a Seder dinner tonight. What emerged from the oven weren't cookies at all, but rather a crisp puddle with vaguely cookie-shaped broken pieces floating on it. Tastes wonderful, but looks pretty bad. No photos--too ugly.
       
      The recipe includes 9 oz. toasted walnuts chopped very fine in the food processor, 3 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup + 3 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 Tbs. vanilla, and 4  egg whites (unwhipped) . The instructions say to preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20 minutes.
       
      My first thought is that the oven temperature is too high for anything with egg whites in it. Any other ideas? I will try this again at a lower temperature, but there's no time to do it today (plus I'm out of both walnuts and confectioner's sugar). I'll bring them tonight, but it's a little embarrassing to have to break this big dark brown cookie/cracker into uneven pieces to serve it.
       
      Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks--
       
      Nancy in Pátzcuaro
    • Rich pastry cream filling: I mean REALLY, REALLY rich
      By Darienne
      I well remember the first time I made DH a Boston Cream Pie.  And I thought he would be so happy.  I think I followed a Martha Stewart recipe.  
       
      But no.  He is the son of a French-Canadian cooking, baking, Mother and if you know anything about French-Canadian cooking, Sugar Pie is a regular feature.   And pure pork Tortiere.  DH grew up on Millefeuille and Napoleons and Rhubarb Pie which had so much sugar in it that you couldn't taste the rhubarb.  (Sorry, dear departed M-i-L.)  And so my cream filling simply wasn't rich enough.  Make it richer, he said, Like my Mother did. 

      And so I am asking.  Take your regular Creme Patisserie and add what to it to make it 'richer'?  Butter?   Several tablespoons?  I've Googled 'very rich pastry cream filling' and can't get back the usual egg, cream...and maybe a smidgen of butter...recipes.

      Help please.
    • Whipping creme anglaise
      By Droo
      I'm making the citron cream recipe in Migoya's Elements of Desserts (p318/9?).
      It says to cook the anglaise to 85 degrees, place on an ice bath then whip the anglaise. I've done that but it doesn't seem to whip (let alone to a medium peak).
       
      This is a new technique I've not tried before so I'm at a loss. Anyone have any ideas?
       
    • Home Made Ice Cream (2015– )
      By Darienne
      [Host's note: to avoid an excessive load on our servers this topic has been split.  The discussion continues from here.]
       
       
      Many batches of Apple Pie Ice Cream later and I'm still in love...think it's the crust factor although I am embarrassed to say so.  I've never had cookie dough ice cream, but I imagine it's pretty much in the same category. 

      I'm thinking about making Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream...or pretty much any pie ice cream...well, not Lemon Meringue...fruit pies, nut pies,...????   Thanksgiving (in October here in the Far Frozen North) might be a good time to try the Pumpkin idea. 
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.