Pastry Boot Camp Day 1

September 16, 2008

5:00am: Alarm

5:45am: Arrive at the Culinary Institute of America for 6:00am orientation.  I wasn’t the first one to get there! We got duffel bags full of stuff: uniforms, a giant (and very heavy) baking and pastry book, ring molds, two sets of large piping tips, a flexible cutting board, travel mug, even a pen and pencil!  Good thing I brought a big suitcase that has plenty of extra space in it.

The group (16 of us) had breakfast in the student dining hall.  We were funneled into an area where someone took your order from choices like eggs benedict, omelets, pancakes, potatoes, sausages, toast…  After we picked up our food, we went into the main dining hall, where there was a bunch more food!  I heard a rumor that there’s oatmeal, so I may need to seek that out tomorrow, although my pancakes were delicious.

Then it was on to lecture with Chef Welker,  complete with a PowerPoint (is there no getting away fromPowerPoint?).  We discussed custards: boiled custard, baked custard, stirred custard.  Then it was on to pate a choux, which is the base for eclairs, cream puffs, and profiteroles.  They call this Boot Camp and I admit I was a bit concerned, especially after reading some tales of cooking school, but there was nothing to worry about.  Chef Welker noted that we probably didn’t all pay a lot of money to come here and be yelled at.  This is true.

After lecture, we headed into the kitchen and learned how to assemble our chef’s touques.  Yes, we’re required to wear kitchen uniforms and hats in the kitchen.  Since most people on campus are wearing the lovely checked pants/white shirt combo, no one really looks dorky.  Chef Welker demonstrated making pastry cream and pate a choux and then set us loose in the kitchen.  The kitchen work went pretty smoothly. There were students there to help us locate things and – this is the good part – to wash our dishes.  I’ll need to remember that when I try this at home and wonder why it takes so much longer to do it.  My team’s pastry cream and pate a choux both seem to have turned out well, but we’ll find out tomorrow when we finish and taste.  Next, teams picked something to make.  Our team made creme brulee and other teams made creme caramel, bread pudding, and clafoutis. The brulee will be finished tomorrow too.  We didn’t taste any of our creations today, but we were warned that we will each have to eat 25 eclairs tomorrow.  Did I mention that Chef Welker is a funny guy?  Here’s a picture of the action.

This is my team's pate a choux batter

This is my team's pate a choux batter

After our kitchen time, we had lunch, which I think was put on by the banquets class. It was kind of like eating at a wedding – everyone was seated at roughly the same time and there was a set menu for the whole room.  The starter was oyster, sausage, and mushroom risotto, which I managed to like despite not being a big fan of oysters, sausage, or mushrooms.  The entree was salmon on a bed of spinach with horseradish mashed potatoes and a buerre rouge (butter sauce with red wine).  After lunch, we went back to the kitchen to weigh ingredients for tomorrow and then we went on a campus tour.  Next we had a 3 hour break so I went back to the hotel and went for a much-needed walk.  Dinner was at St Andrew’s Cafe, and I’m really to full to provide the details right now.

More on the people in the class another day.  So far they’re pretty normal.

Click here to continue to Day 2

One comment

  1. Wow…good thing I watch enough Food TV (especially Alton Brown) to have at least heard of some of the things that you’re making.

    The adventure so far sounds very cool. I can only imagine that the week will get better. Probably no more PowerPoiints! : )

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: