Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Choux Paste is New. Pie is New. Grade 6-ers are New. Lots to Share!

Good Golly, Miss Molly ... what a lot of news to share.

We have had a week of time generously donated by Toronto's wonderful Chef Walter Herbst, and we have learnt to take his advice and make wonderful choux paste and cakes and pies and THEN welcomed a grade 6 class to our kitchen from Roden school nearby to come and play for a morning and make their own cookies and pies! This was topped off by learning to make Sabayon with white wine or marsala, and garnish it with home-made coulis.

This is not really an explanation or the usual wort of post I put up ... it is more a little story-telling and a bit of commentary, with a bunch of photos to show what fun and quality look like.

First, Chef Herbst.

Every semester Chef Walter Herbst, now retired,
generously donates an entire week of his retirement to my students. This is, truly, a selfless act of great generosity, as the work is hard and the patience required (from those un-used to working with students) is vast. Chef Herbst has done this for about the past 5 years, so he is no longer a 'newbie', and we continue to appreciate this remarkable man every time he walks through the door.

To make fine pastries one has to learn to make choux paste (detailed elsewhere in this blog). Then take the paste and actually form it somehow, then (perhaps) add something. (choux Paste is pretty tasteless all on its own.) My students were taught how to make profiteroles and filled Bismarks, and how to make outstanding Chantilly Cream to fill these
(flavoured with good rum, brandy, lemoncello or Grand Marnier). Each students was encouraged to learn a few basic moved with a piping bag,
and once they were on the bag many enjoyed it greatly.

The second dessert Chef Herbst teaches is a true classic ... Black Forest Cake ... and he insists on following the classic propostions and styles.
If students want to experiment, he teaches, learn the basics first and have them nailed down cold BEFORE trying new ideas or flavours or styles ... always have a firm foundation to work with and from. He is absolutely right ... I tell the students that Chef and I are cut from the same cloth in this matter. they squawk a bit, but knuckle down to work when they realize that neither Chef Herbst nor Chef Aller-Stead is about to change stripes at this point!

And ... as always ... the results are worth it. Q.E.D.

Thank you for the applause for this pastry effort!

Ms Watson's Gr. 6 class joined us for a morning in the kitchen ... some of her students
had just competed in the Toronto Police 55 Division 'Chopped' content, and won! This day gave these young people a chance to try on something different for size, and learn to work in and be subject to the discipline of a professional kitchen. They did an outstanding job!

We had two groups ... the Cookie Monsters and the Pie Guys. The Cookie Monsters had an objective of making 250 cookies and getting them baked FAST (so they could be eaten as the main course of their lunch, I suspect),
and the Pie Guys had to leave at the end of the morning with the pies having just been put into the oven for baking (and Chef would deliver them in the afternoon for a post-recess treat).

Everything went according to Hoyle. SEE the happy faces. HEAR the boisterous voices! TASTE the wonderful cookies. DRINK the strange pink kool-aid. We had a grand morning!!

In the afternoon Chef delivered the baked and cooled pies to Ms Watson's class and, with about 24 students and 3 large pies, everyone got a healthy slice.

GOOD FOR YOU, Grade 6-ers!! It was a pleasure to have you with us and, seeing as how you were the first elementary class we ever welcomed, you have set a high standard for others. You may be the first, but you will not be the last. Thank you to Ms Watson for being one brave teacher.

Lastly we learnt to make decent custard and turn it into Sabayon using white wine or Marsala and just a touch of spice or herb.
We have gone through almost 200 eggs to learn this skill, but the result has been worth the effort and the outstanding presentations have been a delight to see and taste.

My students are becoming more critical of their own work ... very few will accept the slap-dash they used to try and get away with (and that I always called them on). Now they carefully criticize their own work and demand perfection from themselves (to the best of their abilities).
On 30 May we will be welcoming members of the Canadian Culinary Federation (the CCFCC) to Monarch for a meeting of very senior chefs, and it is these students who will be strutting their stuff, their food and their personal and distinctive attitudes towards presentation on that night. This is developing into an outstanding challenge!

So it has been a wild month of challenges, learning, growth and production. congratulations to all.

Well done.

Thanks again Chef Herbst.