Chef, creator and influence

When Chef is in a creative mood, which can be often, we can find ourselves playing outside the planned syllabus. For example, a week of Pâte à Choux means we’ll be creating classics such as Eclairs, Religieuse and Chouquettes, all the standard pastries you can find in any French boulangerie. But, when Chef is feeling inspired we know we’re going to take those classics and evolve them into something more …… let’s say, “boutique”. This is the opportunity for students to begin thinking creatively along with our Chef. For many of us, it’s a time to imagine we’re finally here ……. in the kitchen of a 5 star hotel serving up our creations to the most honorable guests. Our signature on a plate. One can dream, noh?

Chef’s former years at the prestigious Dalloyau greatly influences the way he thinks, works and teaches in the lab. He can begin the morning by telling us how he’s been up all night thinking about how we can improve a recipe that we did the day before, “ce n’etait pas bon hier. On va faire encore!”. Or, he may have an idea to evolve a recipe and he’ll ask us if we’re interested in doing it. Of course we say, ‘Oui Chef!’, because this is the opportunity to have fun! To be creative! Instead of just being observers and doers, we become part of a real working, thinking, creative professional lab. Watching Chef improvise his ideas is very confusing intriguing, “Where is he going with this?”, but when we finally see the big picture we enter another hemisphere of thought or idea that we didn’t consider before and instantly we go back in our mind to re-evaluate our previous approach to our work. For example, yesterday for the first time we worked with food colouring adding it to butter cream, pastry cream and crumbles. Then, we were introduced to the world of chocolate: learning how to create those decorative pieces you see only on the most elegant of desserts. All this to create a new Religieuse. I’m not sure if Chef really knows how much influence he has on his students. I certainly saw it yesterday when I looked around the lab. Students experimented with their new found techniques and others were merely influenced to create something of their own.

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