01 6 / 2011
Inspiration: Alice Waters - 40 Years at Chez Panisse
It’s been quite busy these days. Having quit my day job in March, and taking on freelance work, I’m just as, if not more busy than I was before. Though thank goodness for that, it was so scary stepping off on my own and having faith that I could make ends meet. And now I’m happier than I could imagine. I work about 60/70 hours a week spread over 7 days, spend 8 hours once a week interning at Craft, and then try and see friends, eat, and BAKE!
Anyway, because of the crazy scheduling issues I haven’t been able to write about this incredible talk I went to at the New Museum where Alice Waters presented her new book, 40 Years of Chez Panisse. She talked about how she got started from her inspiration on lawn of Berkley in the 60’s, to teaching, to travels in Paris and foraging for tastes. Local for her didn’t mean organic but finding the best taste possible. I think that just happen to turn into organic.
The part that struck me and Amy, (Amy is my friends or rather foodie partner in crime) is when Alice started talking about dinner parties. How she’d fly to Vienna a year in advance and work with the local farmers to ensure she can have the menu she wants using local foods. I mean, wow. That’s commitment to taste. She also collaborates with all sort of people from musicians to artists to filmmakers.
Food anchors life to the land and the civilization
This quote is so true, and I just can’t wait to take this journey. A journey of tastes, collaborations and discovering the world starting just outside my door.
26 5 / 2011
My Professional Kitchen Debut - Craft Restaurant
Yesterday I spent about 7 hours helping out Executive Pastry Chef Jennifer McCoy and the Pastry department at Craft Restaurant. Well, I should say they were helping me out but either way, it was quite the experience.
When I walked in, I was really nervous. I saw Jenny right away and she brought me to the back, grabbed me a chef jacket, an apron, and hand towels. I had three hand towels on me (two dry and one wet). Then I came out and she gave me a tour. I met a TON of people, saw a bunch of equipment I’d never touched before. I’m probably going to have to relearn some of that and the names, but I remember the names of the pastry team. I spent time with Meredith the Sous- Pastry Chef, Eve and Kelsey who were on PM/Service shift and Anastacia (sp?) who was a prep chef (I think). I meant to take a photo in the chef gear but I was eager to get started and nervous, so I just forgot.
My first task was putting Streusel on the Muffins. They do a take away at the end of the night. One of Tom Colicchio signatures. (It’s his restaurant, if you didn’t know and Yes he’s a judge on Top Chef). After putting on the topping of 164 muffins, we put them in the oven and timed them for 12 minutes. Then I turned them. And then the buzzer went off. Jenny showed me how dark they should be and how light they can be. They were done and on the cooling racks they went. I forgot about them until the busers came in for service, put them in celophane bags and prepped them for the end of the night.
Then I worked on prepping the Banana sorbet. which was measuring, checking the sweetness by its fractal. I used this cool gadget that told me the number. Once I added enough simple syrup to get it to fractal 29, I had to sift the Banana into another container and that took me about 40 minutes. Yup. I felt very close to that banana after getting it into the container. Then I put tape on the container, marked what it was and the date and put it in the walk in fridge.
Then I did the passion fruit sorbet and learned how to work with Glucose. I messed up and put too much. To take it out of the container I dipped my hand in ice till it hurt and then grabbed the glucose. Such an interesting texture.
The PM staff showed up and I started working with Kelsely. I scaled a few different recipes for her. (That mean measure out all the ingredients). And then she had me chop 100 ounces of rhubarb. I weighed, washed and then proceeded to chop. Kelsey gave me two knife instructions, then Meredith and then Jenny. Oh how patient they were. I finally started to get the motion and uniform cuts. But if practice is what I wanted, that is definitely what I got. I even have a tiny blister on my hand to prove it. And I need to practice cutting this week at home. Like practice a LOT.
What I was most impressed with was how well the kitchen runs. Everyone knows what they are doing and when. The pastry team was so sweet and welcoming. And if you don’t know this restaurant, you must eat there. Everything I tasted was amazing. And believe me, I did a bit of tasting, and even more smelling. Uh, when that long haired chef took out the Potato Gratin from the ovens, I could feel the drool dribble on my chin. At the end of my day, Jenny had me try all the sorbets and ice creams. Wow, long pepper, Smoked Salt, Butter cream Rhubarb and the banana. Which after my day, I felt especially close to.
I really can’t wait to go back.
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03 5 / 2011
I fell in love…. With a croissant
I’ve never been much of a croissant fan. I felt it was an indulgence. Breakfast is the start of the day, the time to eat nutritious things like oatmeal, egg whites or yogurt. But the further I dive into pastry the more I’ve begun to understand the power of starting your day with something flaky on the outside, with a buttery dough in the inside. One is all you need, and it sets the day up for magic.
In Paris, I heard that Au Levin du Marais has the best croissant. I went on a Monday and it seems they were closed Monday for the Easter holiday and their regular days off are Tuesday and Wednesday. I refused to taste a croissant until I could have one of theirs. The only time I could go was after making a chocolate cake. I was stuffed, had just tried a Madeleine and to top it off, it was raining.
5 hours left in Paris and I hadn’t had a croissant. I powered through, walked in and 1 euro later, I took my taste. For a few brief seconds the rain went unnoticed and I continued to taste the croissant until it was completely devoured. The standard has been set. One day, I will make you and you will taste that yummy.
Au Levain du Marais
28, Blvd Beaumarchais (11th)
Tél: 01 48 05 17 14
Métro: Bastille or Chemin Vert
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28 4 / 2011
The trip to find a Macaron - Gerard Mulot
Walking through the 6th, I remembered that Gerard Mulot was not far. I quickly consulted my map for the quickest route. As I approached, the smell was more than I could have event hoped. There’s nothing like that smell.
I went straight for the counter of macarons and asked for a small box with their favorite flavors and in the middle of assembling the box, he pulled out a strawberry one and said ‘pour vous’. I love that here, when ever I’ve been buying something and excited they’ve given me a bonus. Perhaps similar to the idea of a baker’s dozen. The taste went straight to my lip and it was as perfect as it could be.
Gerard Mulot (Macaron)
76 rue de Seine (6th)
Tél: 01 45 26 85 77
27 4 / 2011
A small pastry: Les Kouignettes
After a long brunch at the (somewhat over rated) Cafe de Flor, I walked into what looked like a beautiful pasty shop and asked what their specialty was… They pointed me to Les Kouignettes. I’ve never had anything like that before and honestly it didn’t look like my thing. They were out on display but it was kept very cold. I thought that was very interesting how they did that. Anyway, I buy two and leave. My friend, Sean and I walk to the Jardin Luxembourg and there we take a bite. The taste of it just rushed over me. I’ve never had anything like it and it was just unbelievable. We oo’d and ahh’d over it for a bit. Definitely do not miss this! Later I showed a French friend and she told me it was voted best in Paris, ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’
Chocolaterie George Larnicol
132 Boulevard Saint-Germain, Paris
01 43 26 39 38
26 4 / 2011
The Best Caramel I’ve Ever Tried
Yesterday I ventured across town to take a look at the covered food market Marches Des Enfant Rouges. On my way over I stumbled on to one of the places on my list, Jacque Genin. I went into what may have been the most beautifully groomed store. It felt like a top art gallery in Chelsea. The sales women were a bit intimidating but I asked to try one of each of the caramels. And David Lebovitz was right. Somehow they managed to put a lot of butter into each of these suckers. I want to learn to make these. I will learn to make these.
When I tasted one on the street, I had to stop walking for a minute and just let out a groan. Absolutely amazing. I didn’t try the chocolate but it looked pretty INSANE as well.
Jacques Genin - Caramels
133, rue de Turenne (3rd)
Tél: 01 45 77 29 01
25 4 / 2011
I’m spending this week in Paris and eating all the fine treats they have to offer. I have been going off the link from David Lebovitz and he gives us some pretty good options. Its a bit old so I’ve tried some new things to.
The first thing I went to is the Gallery Gourmet which is the food shop in the Gallery Lafayette department store. Literally I got off the plane, put my bag down and walked over there. It happens to be by where I’m staying in the 8th but still.I had a Baguette Cereal, which was delicious and lasted to the next mornings breakfast. It was good but I wasn’t on the floor.
I tried to take photos but the guard gave me a problem.
(second floor if the first building)
40 Boulevard Haussmann
75009 Paris, France
+33 1 42 82 34 56
13 4 / 2011
"Musicians have an adage that translates well to pastry chefs: Amateurs play a piece until they get it right, while professionals play it until they can’t get it wrong."
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11 4 / 2011
Top Chef Alums Cook for Japan
I’m so excited to be part of this incredible event. No, I’m definitely not a Top Chef (Yet), but I am currently a digital marketer. I’ve been helping orchestrate the twitter, facebook and press outreach for the event. I’m in awe of all of these chefs and really proud to be working with them. Please follow them on Twitter and help us spread the word about this amazing event.
There are still some tickets left, so what are you waiting for?
Top Chef Alums involved:
Candice Kumai - Season One Chef’testant
Harold Dieterle - Season One Winner
Angelo Sosa - Season Seven Runner-Up and All-Stars Chef’testant
Hung Huynh - Season Three Winner
Mike Isabella - All-Stars Finalist
Kevin Sbraga - Season Seven Winner
Seth Caro - Just Desserts Chef’Testant