Monday, 20 July 2009

Monsieur Le Pâtissier

C'etait la fin des haricots. Les carottes ont été cuites. J'étais dans un beau pétrin. Mais je n'ai pas mis tous mes oeufs dans le même panier. Je n'ai pas eu le coeur d'un petit artichaut. J'ai appuyé sur le champignon. Et maintenant je suis le coq du village*. No, I haven't gone gaga - I'm just practising my French food-related clichés. Why? Because an Anglo-Spanish-speaking pastry chef somehow just doesn't sound right. At that's important, now that I'm a professional pastry chef.

In the footsteps of Richard HearneI'm delighted to confirm that I signed a contract last week and have already taken on the full-time role of pastry chef here at Restaurante Ferrero. With my three month stage due to finish in a few weeks time, Head Chef asked me to join his team and I've been thrilled to accept the offer.

There is a point to my attempt at humour above, of course. Most lay people visualise a pastry chef as a cheerful, pompous, distinctly French character with a figure like Napoleon on a bad day, outsized headwear, an onion-seller's moustache and arms permanently outstretched to display trays of freshly baked croissants. This may be true in an ordinary hotel pastry department, but not in a modern gastronomic restaurant. So what exactly is my role as pastry chef? Let me explain.

When most people think of a pastry chef, they think of baking. A classic pastry chef is responsible for the production of the baked goods in a kitchen - pastries, pies, cakes, tarts, cheesecakes, quiches, petit fours, flans, breads, etc. But in the modern fine dining environment, the pastry section only retains that title by habit. What is meant by pastry is the desserts section, or postres as it is known here in Spain. The job has much more to do with ice creams, sorbets and gelées than with bread or cakes, and I use far more gelatine sheets and inverted sugar than bags of flour and baker's yeast.

As someone whose goal is to make sous chef and eventually head chef of a top-class fine dining restaurant before ultimately opening my own place, this is a fantastic opportunity. Whether or not I continue to specialise as a pastry chef in the longer term, working in pastry now will be invaluable in giving me the breadth of experience needed to make a good sous chef in the future. So I intend to take this opportunity very seriously and put everything I've got into making it as successful as I possibly can.

It's been two weeks since I last posted and I've also been very remiss in not visiting other food blogs or replying to emails recently. Why? All will be revealed in my next post, so watch this space.

* Literally: It was the end of the beans. The carrots were cooked. I was in a beautiful kneader. But I didn't put all my eggs in one basket. I didn't have the heart of a small artichoke. I stepped on the mushroom. And now I am the village cockerel. Figuratively: It was the last straw. I'd had it. I was in a right mess. But I covered my bets. I stuck my ground. I increased my effort. And now I'm very proud.


Katherine said...

That's great news! Congrats!

James said...

Nice move! It really helps when you've done the rounds of the kitchen. Pastry skills are transferable - you can adapt those techniques in the main kitchen.

Pastry was the section I never got to, and didn't do it at college either so I've had to teach myself all that stuff. Fast.

Richard said...

Congrats Trig - I hope to see some great postres recipes soon!

Richard L said...

congrats indeed. BTW new Abellan/ Moritz baby Bar Velodromo here is a retro delight. Match their chocolate+salt+oil+bread dessert and you will be well away

Richard L

David Hall said...

Well done Trig, many congrats!


Trig said...

Katherine - Thanks!

James - Indeed the pastry section is teaching me some invaluable techniques such working with chocolate, achieving the perfect texture in ice creams and sorbets etc etc. It must be tough teaching yourself pastry, hats off to you!

Richard - I hope to
find the time and energy to publish some!

Richard L - My old colleague from C24 was telling me about Velodromo the other day, I take it you've been to eat there already? So go on, spill the beans...

David - Thanks!

Helen said...

Good luck in your new role Trig! I'm sure you will be successful. You're looking pretty professional in your picture there ;)

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Well done!! Brilliant news.

Trig said...

Helen, Amanda - thanks. Maybe I'll be able to persuade you to come and pay us a visit in our mountain retreat one day.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Absolutely!! We've just got back from Spain and I did think about looking you up but youngest and I spent the first week being ill and the rest of the time we were... LAZY, though it might sound better to say we were in recovery.

Hope you're well.

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