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eG Foodblog: Wendy DeBord - Dessert, the most important meal.

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Speachless. Inspired. Unworthy. These are words that I think of viewing your blog. Holy-canoli! Thanks so much for sharing yourself, please do continue!!! I'm losing time from work because I can't seem to tear myself away from your blog and pix!

Your work is certainly a feast for the eyes (wish I could lick the pictures to taste!) better than I have seen in most high end buffet or hotel event. Would you consider a move to a high end hotel?

I do have a question: You said previously that your club is one of the most popular/busy/successful, if so, why can't they afford some of the equipment you want/need?

Thanks again,


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No one else has any questions or thoughts.........am I boring you?

Quite the opposite: I am in stunned silence. Really great work. I am impressed also by how you are able to do such complex and quality work at such a large volume.

I have tons of questions, but will save some for the P&B forum.

Like your key lime cake, is that pink disc a disk of frozen strawberry mousse?

And with your lemon cake, how do you get the lemon curd/mousse so thick?

Also, what kind of cookies and petit fours do you make?

Love those chocolate covered corn flakes. I too like the salty/sweet contrast. My favorite being salted butter caramel, and another good example is chocolate covered pretzels or nuts (how the salt of the prtezels makes the chocolate pop).

Looove all the pictures, keep'em coming!

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Also in the stunned silence camp here. I keep checking to see if there are more pictures, then drooling and wishing I could *taste* through this screen.

What would you suggest for a home cook who wants to do something impressive as a dessert? I know that in most cooking there are dishes that seem complex and difficult, but are actually pretty simple to produce, so I'm assuming there are such dishes in the pastry arena as well.


Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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What would you suggest for a home cook who wants to do something impressive as a dessert?

Ohhh, good question. I don't really bake much because I'm not so disciplined. I would love to make something with a ***WOW*** that isn't going to fall apart if I didn't whip it "just right".

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This is what I get after 2 1/2 days with no internet access (I'd curse my provider except that they credited me a whole month). Four pages of pastry orgy. Wow, Wendy. The members of your CC don't know how lucky they have it! I can't believe you produce all of that by yourself.

Truly, truly gorgeous stuff, all of it. I wouuld like to know your whipped cream trick/technique, but maybe that's better left to the P/B forum?

"I just hate health food"--Julia Child

Jennifer Garner

buttercream pastries

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I was just about to go to bed and remembered your blog and ran all the way back!! Everything is so fabulous!

Does that club have any, and I mean any, idea what they have in you??? We belong to a chi chi club here in Bethesda - umpteen $$$$ to get in. Do you know what they served at the Easter buffet for dessert???? Diagonal cut brownies (mine are 1000 times better) and Dixie cup ice cream. Oh, and I think some orange jello. I am going to print out your work and take it to the General Manger and let him know what we should be getting!!

I love how you put things together and love seeing the cakes and the inventiveness. You deserve a big, fat, stinking raise!!


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I can only echo what others have been posting: This is anything but a boring blog! Many of your creations look almost too beautiful to eat.

[...]I made white chocolate sea shells and dusted with with luster dust[...]

And I have a question: What is luster dust?

Michael aka "Pan"


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Next dessert is the tiramisu tart. I'm not happy at all with how I had to finish this. I had planned on spraying it with chocolate, but I forgot to freeze it so I could spray it. Instead I gave it a dusting of cocoa powder, heavy dusting because it will fade in the cooler.

Is a pastry airbrush the same as an artist airbrush or is there a specific food-service version? When you say spray it with chocolate... do you mean melted chocolate? And you may not have been happy but I thought it looked amazing... you could send some tiramisu tarts my way next time you're not happy with them!

I'll add my awe to the group's. Your work is beautiful - I would love to be able to do what you do.

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Hi there. I got out of work at a decent time, only 7 1/2 hours today........... I have really good hours for a pastry chef. Today was a "pick at it day" to describe my eating. I strolled into work at 9:30 am and got busy on the ladies luncheon party due at noon, so I didn't stop to eat any "breakfast cookies".........like the other day.

I made the ladies pineapple tartlets using puff pastry squares we buy in already cut (hows that for lazy!). I slapped some pastry cream on each and then fresh cut pineapple (which was pretty ripe if my photos colors don't show that).

This grossly underbaked one I ate. I just wanted to see what it was tasting like so I knew what kind of sauce or accompiment it would need.


This is an 'in the oven' photo shot. I served these tarts warm, straight from the oven to their plates and I couldn't work and document that part for you. Instead you've sort of got a preview, while I was pacing around waiting for them to finish.


Notice the horrible rise I got on the puff pastry................! Someone must have left the box of these out for too long because the dough had no poof at all. That's not unusual. The hot side really abuses puff pastry. The things they do with it never have rise, so they don't seem to understand the whole concept. Oh well.

So what those tarts needed was some sauce and whipped cream. The whipped cream is to take you back to a base/vanilla every bite or so.........I mentioned this before, it's how I eat, I think your tongue gets used to a taste and can't appreciate the flavor after eating several bites. The sauce was auesome even though the following photo looks gross. I pureed fresh pineapple and added some grated fresh gingerroot and vanilla. I LOVE that taste combo........the pineapple and gingerroot (light on the ginger) are good/fresh then the splash of vanilla makes it pop.


While I was in the upstairs kitchen plating up I nibbled on some pork roast that was conviently left on the slicer:


That took care of my hunger for quite a while so I never sat down to a formal "lunch". But it didn't fill me so that's what made this a "pick at it" day. Anything laying around was fair game for my mouth. hum.............that's sort of typical when you work in a kitchen. We nibble on anything that looks good and sometimes stuff that doesn't look so good.

I made some danish today. Naturally they weren't my best. God or whom ever, likes to torture me and throw me bombs when I try to show off. Or is that Murphys Law...............I'm not sure which but which ever it is, it sure keeps me in check! As soon as I brag, I trip! I'm jinzed that way......................

Someone (I can't stop now and go look cause I'm scared I might loose this huge post) had asked if I'd make bear claws the other day and I shot my way thru making danish to share that.




Second fold:



gallery_8093_3_14971.jpg AND CRASH!

Oops............the table I roll out items on, has wheels on the bottom. The wheels have locks, but naturally..........they don't work and no one cares to fix it because no one other then me rolls dough on it. So boom, the bowl of flour rocked off the table. I guess it's my fault really I was distracted playing photo documentary women. AND I shouldn't have put my flour in a glass bowl, but I was saving my stainless ones because they were running low already.

I cleaned things up and went back to rolling and shaping danish. Here's the rest:








Heres my frangipane being made to fill the request for bear claws.


I put too much filling in! Don't follow this example:




About this time my buddy Izzy came in to work. He's the night salad person and my best buddy. He's Mexican and cute as the dickens.........tall (yep), dark and handsome. Anyway I had to stop and hear all about his love life. That's the norm. Everyday theres something new to share on that topic. He's quite the ladies man...........and I LOVE to tease him about that.........then he just gobbles that up. Anyway............Izzy makes these h.d plates each table gets for free! It consists of basicly a relish tray. Theres carrots and celery sticks, a cheese whip (ish) thing, olives and pickles..........and the best part: these salami rolls. It's a slice of salami with a herb cream cheese piped into the center, then he rolls them into corinets. I grabbed a couple of them...........well I just grab the unmade ones and make my own so not to be eating his work:


I did do a whole bunch of other things today...........but it's hard to work and take photos.

Heres a mini birthday cake I had to make (they aren't normally this small). It's a marble cake, chocolate mousse filling and buttercream frosting. This is how I ALWAY decorate my b-day cakes at this club, it's sort of my "house style" here. At other clubs I had other designs. I change up the frosting or icing....whatever they choose and so sometimes this is a white on white design or a chocolate on chocolate design to match the cakes flavors. I always put a chocolate plastic bow on top of my cakes and make a "gift tag" to put the writing on. Oh, I make my bows, those aren't bought in. I should show you my garnishes cabinet and that would explain a little about how I make up these things and store them, so when I'm busy I can just pop on a bow or flower and go.


I snacked a little more along the way:


I did NOT eat that whole thing. It was a scrap from another project and I only picked at it.

I think I've come to the end of my photos from work today. All that's left for eating today is dinner at home:..........guess what it's going to be? 'Take out' of course. Last night my husband picked dinner and had to run to pick it up. Tonight I chose Chinese and had to make the run.


That is a huge portion..........and I sure did eat the WHOLE plateful! It was moo shu chicken served American style. That's like stuffing it like a buritto......none of that polite thin rolls. The other dish is garlic shrimp. I washed down dinner with another wonderful bottle of GRAPEeeeeeeee h20. I sure am sick to death of that flavor!

I got hooked on that h20 stuff when I attempted the Atkins diet a year or two ago. I used to drink alot of diet pop and that didn't fit into their diet. I should drink plain water and I certainly do drink it. But I choose to drink flavored water then it's going to sit out at room temp. for extended hours. I just don't like plain water at room temp., but strangely enough I like any other drink left at room temp.. So someone will probably ask me "why room temp. am I too lazy to get ice"? The short answer to that is no. The detailed answer is my teeth are very cold sensitive and I don't mind room temp. flat sodas or drinks. I've grown used to consuming 'whatever'. I think many people who work in kitchens become that way. You get so overwhelmed with work and racing around that you just can't take care of 'what you want' cravings, instead you always settle for whatever's around.

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Are there a lot of kids named Gavin at your club, or was that a first then second (the Barney cake) birthday parties?

I love the whimsy of the white wedding cake with the writing on it. Who's idea was that, yours or the bride's? What are some of the words on it?

Hum.........I must have screwed up and posted the same item twice........? Sorry I haven't had time to double check my writing and work. This blogging thing is more time consuming then it appears on the outside looking in.

Ah thinking more about this............. the barn cake (actually the theme was Old McDonald) and the Barney cake were both done for the same child. That mom has big parties for this child and will pay for my time.

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Great stuff Wendy! :biggrin:

I have much respect for fellow pastry chefs who are willing to share their ideas and desserts to others. ( I know of too many who don't and won't do that ).

A question about your books. I see that you have Balaguer's and Herme's, but do you also have Bau's? And if so , out of those 3 , which would you recommend the most for a pastry chef whose interests are mainly plated desserts?

You also get much kudos from me for the inventiveness. I am somewhat in the same boat as you, as the stuff I make here at work is not exactly what I would be ideally doing, so I am generally not to motivated to do new stuff, but by golly you sure are!  I love the creativeness that you have, I only wish I had 1/2 the talent ( or patience - I am a very impatient person ) that you have to create such ingenious desserts.

Again , great stuff and I can't wait to see the next installment of the Wendy DeBord blog :biggrin: !

Take care,


Hi Jason, glad to see you here.

The books question: yes I do own all three books. Herme's has NOTHING at all on individual plating. Both Bau's and Balaguer's books have plating that I can't do in this kitchen. They involve last second plating totally and multiple components. I try to even avoid scoops of ice cream on a ala carte dessert. My desserts have to be a one reach in to the cooler for the guys. The guys plating my stuff work darn hard and I can't ask them to do more work and expect them to get it right everytime.

Sooooo plating........hum. To tell you the truth I wouldn't pick any of those three choices for books on plating, their too limited. I would be more then happy to talk in more detail about which books I like for plating in the Baking & Pastry Forum when I'm done blogging.....just because I'm so limited on time right now with work and blogging. Oh by the way, anyone who has been kind enough to pm me the last several days............I'm so sorry I haven't responded. I don't mean to be rude, just very short on time at the moment...........life will get back to normal (ish) next week......... and I'll be bored then and wishing I was still blogging, so I'll chat everyone ears off then.

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Boring? no, I think maybe everyone else is sitting here, mouth agape, like me!

... totally in that camp! I am floored by your creations and whim. That club is unbelievably lucky to have you there. Thank you for sharing your work with us Wendy! :wub:

Oh good.....I was worried. Thank-you for reading along.

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Way back when I worked in my mom's bakery we used the plastic garment bags that just fit around the big mixer and the top, where the hanger would go, would be secured to the top of the mixer with a cow magnet.  it was split front and back and held together in the front of the bowl with a spring-type clothes pin.  The heavy plastic was washable and we used the steamer to sterilize them.

The beauty of the garbage bag is how dirt cheap they are. Use it once and pitch it, plus earily in the day you can use it to double line your garbage pail. I use plastic wrap/saran wrap over my smaller mixers and the one that has a shield..........that's lovely cause it contains the mess better then open mixers, even though it's challenging to work with.

Oh I'm with you now. Yes, that was a darn good idea!

The time I am talking about is back in the 50s, before there were plastic garbage bags.

We saw a baker at one of the baking shows we attended using the garment bags and thought "How Great is That!" and immediately bought some. The only plastic bags were the very thing ones that cleaners put over garments and that stuff was too fragile.

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I always wonder how much practice goes into pieces and how much product is wasted learning to make a handbag shaped cheescake or a bunny cake, for instance.  I've been working with my sons' playdough to learn how to build shapes out of chocolate and chocolate clay because I don't want to waste the chocolate.  So, how much is inherent talent and how much is learned through practice, trial, and error?

Oooooh, that's a hard/good one. Hum, technically nothing is practice. There isn't time to make mistakes and start over again. You become a genious at fixing things. I guess I have to admit, shapes and artistic types of things are very easy for me, that's something I inherited, so did my two sisters. Lots of times people make comments about that to me...........but the facts are: I got one talent and to balance things out, I was left with plenty of deficits/faults!!!!!

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Wendy, you mentioned you "change up the frosting or icing." To me, frosting and icing are synonymous, though I use only "icing" in my spoken dialect. Do you differentiate between these two terms, and if so, how are their meanings different to you?

Michael aka "Pan"


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wow wendy what an amazing blog!

those handbags are just gorgeous. they're covered with fondant, right? do people eat that, or scrape the cake out? if you have a fondant covered cake for a wedding/event - do you serve it or bake off another cake for service? (thanks for the pastry 101 lesson :wink: )

are the photos of wedding cakes from weddings at the club, or private/older catering jobs? how much flexibility do you get with menus - especially for private parties...are clients given several choices depending on budget - do you have options for all budgets or are you held to specific items?

what's in those luscious looking chocolate boxes...looks like custard of some sort? those made me drool. and i spent 5 minutes looking at the shells - they look so real. great job.

Yes, some of the handbags were covered in fondant. Some people like it and others don't. The current club I'm at, the manager hates it and won't even try it. henseforth, he won't sell one wedding cake with it. That stinks!!! At least I've got him selling modern wedding cakes now. When I began there he was selling cakes out of a 1970's Wilton wedding cake book. YUK!

No time to make two cakes. I have pretty close to a zero waste factor at this club. For instance, if I whip cream today and don't use it all. I put the left over whipped cream in with my fresh cream and whip them together (from the start, not after they are both whipped) the next time I need whipped cream. I save any melted chocolate that didn't get used on one project and re-melt it and use it in something else.

If I recall correctly I think I only posted wedding cakes that are from my current job.

Flexiblity with menus..........almost complete control. The only thing I don't do is talk to each and every person booking a party. The manager does that and he either tells me what they've asked for or he bounces off some ideas with me and calls them back. This is a wondeful aspect of my job at this club!

As far as choices and budget......that part. I have a banquet menu I wrote up and each dessert is individually priced out. So the customer isn't getting a dessert included in some sort of "package deal"..........it's all ala carte and up to the guest to deside. I'll do anything I'm capable of......regardless of price. If someone wants a replica of the White House for a b-day cake, I'll do it and the manager charges according to my time invested. It does make life very hard though when people want time consuming items. When that happens and I start to panic over how I'm going to accomplish my work load I do talk to my Chef and he either helps me or tells the manager no more specail orders for this time period, Wendy's swamped. They're really good at respecting that! My Chef is really great!!!!!!!!!!!!! He protects me and helps me...........the BEST Chef I've ever EVER worked with, for, or seen (and he's very young too).

The chocolate boxes were from last years valentines dinner. My Chef dreamed up this idea of a gift box where the sides fall away, then I figured out how to do that. It's pretty rare that he asks me to do something that specific, but I thought it was a great idea and enjoyed working on them. What's inside them..............gosh I hate to admit this, but I don't recall anymore. Sorry.

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Now all I want is cake for breakfast  :wink:

YES! Welcome aboard my friend. I wish everyone liked and ate dessert. Us pastry chefs are becoming dinosours. Like I titled my blog........I really do think dessert is the most important "meal" of the day. I mean, what if you die tommarrow or later today and you only ate healthy stuff thinking it would keep you alive longer??????? Nope, not me. I life for today and eat for today.

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Would you consider a move to a high end hotel?

I do have a question: You said previously that your club is one of the most popular/busy/successful, if so, why can't they afford some of the equipment you want/need?

Moving: I'd go anywhere and do anything job wise that meant I could support my hubby completely. He supported me for many years and I'd love to be able to return that before I die.

The money thing. Well, I can't begin to tell you how complicated that whole area is. I can write pages and pages about it, and have in the P & B Forum. I'll try to sum one aspect of the money thing up, to give you a hint.

My manager looks like a hero if he can get more work done for less money..........so every year that's exactly what he does. He also gets a yearly bonus based on doing so. Plus it secures his job and he doesn't have to go out on a limb with the board and ask them for money.

At this moment we are down 2 full time people in our kitchen and everyone is running to death to cover those jobs. Instead of taking the money spent on those two positions and letting people work over-time we still have to get the work done with-out one second of anyone working ot..

Things are complicated, to say the least. Some things are just how things are done in all kitchens somethings are because of the manager. The thing is, as long as we make things work (which we all ways do) the manager thinks he is doing a great job cutting people and expenses. The morning sous chef and I were talking just this morning about this issue. We're like thinking we need to mess up to break the pressure on us and prove we need more staff. That's the only way the money will be spent, if we fail.

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Wendy, you mentioned you "change up the frosting or icing." To me, frosting and icing are synonymous, though I use only "icing" in my spoken dialect. Do you differentiate between these two terms, and if so, how are their meanings different to you?

At the moment I wrote that (it's now way past my bed time) I was thinking multiple components that I might use to cover a cake. Like theres frosting, whipped cream, ganche etc......... too many choices to detail at the time. To differeniate how I'd define "icing" I used that word to mean something that goes on the exterior of a cake. Frosting is.......well, any type of frosting, but limited to something I apply with a spatula...icing I might pour on.

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Have you ever participated in any of those competitions in which incredibly realistic creations-- Eiffel Towers, ships at sea, whole neighborhoods-- are made out of sugar?  I often wonder if the taste of these creations is given any consideration in the judging, or is it all about appearance?

I've never competed in any baking related competitions. Steve Klc is an expert on that topic, so is Chefette. They can tell you all about them and expectations, etc....

Not being modest (please Murphy, don't strike me down), I can do more realistic and better work. You really can't belive the time pressure I'm under all day everyday. Nothing gets my full attention at this job. I'm always doing multiple things at once and someone is generally talking to me, while the radio is blasting, and I have 3 things in the oven upstairs I'm thinking about and the produce guy is looking for me to sign in his delievery, etc.... Once upon a time I worked at jobs were I had time to perfect things. I do miss that! But right this moment I'm going thru a growth period. When I first began this current job it was taking on at least double the amount of work I'd done before at other clubs. So I'm growing in the respect that I can now look back and laugh over how I stressed over a party for 200. Heck, over 500 is starting to get comfortable............enough that tackling that number like at Easter doesn't scare me anymore. I've let myself stop the perfection and trade off getting things done. I'm now working on getting more perfection back into my work (within this tighter time frame).....but that's slower then I want.

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How many years of daily work has it taken to reach your level? 

Something that immediately crossed my mind when scrolling through your beautiful portfolio is that many members of your club must think of you first when a wedding is planned in the family.  How does that work?  Are you consigned by the club or for private events such as weddings, or do you get to negotiate direct with the family holding the event? 

It's hard for me to figure out how long I've been a pc. When I began I was working for my families catering business and we really did some basic stuff, lots of cake mixes and none of the recipes were mine. I did about 10 years of that kind of baking because I was mainly cooking at that time.........I was a chef on the hot side of the kitchen. Then I took like 10 years out to be an artist. I really only became a 'professional pastry chef' about 5 or 6 years. Then I haven't always worked full time because I've stuggled finding work between positions. Pc jobs aren't available on every corner, jobs are very hard to find. 911 left me out of full time work for well over a year. (hum........it's past mid-night so don't hold me to the years and dates, I could be dreaming and not even typing now)

Members weddings. For weddings we do a "package deal", it's the only time we do so. So a basic cake is including in the price of their meal. Anything done at work, from work is payed to work. They then pay me a salary, period. I don't get any bonus's or anything like that. It's to the clubs benefit that I work hard then they make a profit off my work. Typcially the pastry area is not as profitable as hot food so in alot of ways I'm plain lucky to have a job.

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(If it's not too tacky to ask....) How much do members at the club pay to come to a buffet, on average?

-What sort of party did you create the handbag cakes for? A fashionista's b-day?  :smile:

I believe all questions are good questions.............

Buffet prices vary wildly. All pricing is set by the manager. AND we are a "not for-profit" club. Which means we really only charge enough to break even, we don't want to make a profit. I'd say prices range from $7.00 to $50.00 per person on a party that entails a buffet. We have pool parties and kids halloween parties.........they can't charge much on those. We really want member participation for many reasons.

The handbags were from last years Mothers Day. At that time I was working at two country clubs part-time. The current one I'm at had me part-time for a while. Then I got a full time offer from another club and my Chef worked wonders to keep me.

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