One Pastry Chef’s Day at Work
Once again I’m thrilled to have Chef Jennifer Field, a graduate of Orlando Culinary Academy, write about the life of a baking & pastry chef. I asked Jenni to give my readers a glimpse of what one of her days look like working as the pastry chef at The Ravenous Pig in Winterpark, Florida. As you will see, her day is busy….really busy.
You’ll also get to see photos from her working day. They show how labor intensive working in a restaurant can be but according to Chef Jenni, it is all worth it.
A Day In the Life of A Pastry Chef – Part 1
My name is Jennifer Field, and I am a working pastry chef. I currently am the pastry sous chef at The Ravenous Pig: An American Gastropub in Winterpark, FL . Many people are intrigued by what it is that chefs do on a daily basis. The Reluctant Gourmet thought it might be interesting, or at least eye opening, to write an hour by hour account of what goes on from the moment I hit the door until the moment I clock out.
I come in early, at 7:00am and our pastry cook, Lucia, comes in at 10:00 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to help with all the prep. We are closed on Saturdays and Sundays, so we run everything out on Saturday nights. As a result, there is always a lot to do on Tuesdays.
Here’s what I’m responsible for at the restaurant.
Aside from making all dessert components and garnishes, I have several other responsibilities that are not generally thought of as the realm of the “dessert lady.” I am responsible for making the spiced caramel popcorn that we give away as a bar snack. I make the gruyere biscuits that we sell for our bread service as well as the bread pretzels and taleggio fondue for the pub menu.
Chef Lucia and I also keep us in mignardise. You know, like the mints you get with your check? We make what we like peppermint marshmallows, filled chocolates, nut brittles and toffees whatever sounds good. We need to make sure that there are always enough for all guests to get something when their checks come.
In addition, I make tart dough for quiche and Alsace tarts for garde manger and spicy gazpacho (for Bloody Maries) and sour mix for the bar. Now that you know what I’m in charge of making, welcome to my day”¦
It’s still dark outside. I hate that. I have my keys ready so I can get in the door as quickly as possible. Lock it behind. Run and turn off that damn alarm before the cops show up. Turn on the lights. Check the bar. They ate all the caramel corn?! Savages. Survey the damage in the walk-in from the night before. Do we need financiers? How are we on croquants? Chocolate sauce? Chocolate paint?
Now the freezer. Oh, no””they ate all the biscuits. Make a double today. Pretzels, too? There goes an hour and 15 minutes right there. Better check all the ice creams. Do we need more base? How about that semifreddo? Is it all gone? Put the frozen brisee for the tarts in the walk-in to temper. Are the servers passing out the mignardise? Do we need to make more of those, too?!
Oh, I hate Tuesdays.
Okay, here we go. Wash your hands. Pop the corn””9 quarts twice, please. While the corn is popping, set the Blodgett oven, turn on the hoods and the gas, light the burners, turn on the other big convection oven. Scale the caramel for the corn. Oh, no spiced pumpkin seeds?! Quick, make those and throw them in the oven so they’re ready to go when the popcorn is popped.
Put the caramel on the induction burner so the butter melts. Scale 2X biscuits. Grate 6 pounds of cheese (thank goodness for the Robot Coupe). Butter’s melted for the caramel; it’s boiling. Set the timer for 5 minutes, turn down the heat and cut the flour into the biscuits. Timer goes off. Wash your hands, and stir the caramel into the corn; don’t forget to add the spiced pumpkin seeds. Put the corn in the oven for 20 minutes.