Monthly Archives: March 2010

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Where am I now?

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As you know, in mid-February I wasn’t sure where I was going to be in the restaurant – in the savory or sweet area.  I staged/trailed in pastry and liked it a lot- so much that immediately after I finished my externship at Lucques, I began an internship at Tavern in pastry.  Thankfully, I loved it and sometime between then and now, maybe the first of March, I was hired full-time to work in pastry at Tavern!….Yaahooo!

Since I’ve been at Tavern, I’ve been fortunate and very happy to experience things that I know a lot of people, right out of culinary school, don’t get the opportunity to experience.  During the first days of my internship, I was deeply entrenched with cupcake-making…making 1,400 cupcakes, to be exact.

Our very talented pastry chef, Breanne, was invited to compete in the annual Nestle Cupcake Challenge, where she was to produce 1,400 mini cupcakes.  Happily, she asked me to assist and join her and Sarah (another pastry gal) at the event.  We helped Breanne bake off 1,400 cupcakes, transport them, decorate, and plate them at the event.

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Essentially, we were at Cupcake Palooza – a cupcake fanatic convention, where cupcake fiends vote for the best cupcakes in 4 or so different categories.  We were rookies to the competition so didn’t know we should have made a huge sign that said, “vote for cupcake #37”.

Scours of people were picking up cupcakes, left and right, with tupperware and cake boxes to fill.  While Breanne introduced herself and the cupcakes to the crowd of judges, Sarah decorated and I re-plated the cupcake stands.  I think it went on for 4 hours or so, but it didn’t seem that long… I guess I was having too much fun.IMG_2894

The flavors that were entered into the contest were 1) Tahitian Vanilla cupcake and 2) Chocolate with Salted Caramel.

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The Tahitian vanilla cupcake was jam-packed with an intense vanilla cake flavor.  Piped inside and on top was a scrumptious vanilla-flavored cream…I believe it was a bavarian whipped cream, and boy was it good!

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This picture didn’t capture how beautiful these were.  In person, these pieces of heaven were like pieces of jewelry.  Not only did they look fabulous, they tasted incredible.  Piped inside the rich chocolate cake was salted caramel and piped on top was salted caramel buttercream, garnished with gold leaf and a mini macaroon cap.  I took this picture late in the afternoon, when the lighting took a toll on the buttercream.  Wish you could have been there to taste and see…and vote!

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Sadly, the cupcakes did not win the competition.  I’m sure it’s because people didn’t know what number our cupcakes were when they voted.  As I walked around, checking out the competition, a bunch of cupcake junkies told me they really loved the Tahitian vanilla.  I was sure it would win.  To our dismay, our neighboring table, with a framed number, was a winner…they won with an inventive banana nut cake with carmelized banana on top.  It was good.. but so sweet and so close to being a bread, not cake.  Ok, I’m a little bitter about this defeat…but for good reason.

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After bartering our cupcakes with the other contestants’ cupcakes and tasting them, I still think Breanne’s cupcakes were the best in taste and in presentation.  Although the cupcakes didn’t win, it was fun and an experience I will never forget…and, there’s always next year!

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In my eyes, we were winners… so cheers to that!

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Since the competition, at Tavern, I’ve learned so much in production.  Having been there for a little over a month, all the pages in my notebook are just about full.  In the pastry department (is department the right word?), there is so much to produce, having a Larder with already-made goods in a deli case and on cake stands.  Also, Tavern is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (not to mention, on most holidays).  In addition, we make pastries for the Malibu Hotel.  Everyday I learn something new and to me, that’s exciting and what I enjoy most about working at the restaurant.  So far I’ve made different ice creams, sorbets, pies, cookies, cake batters, sauces, built and dipped in chocolate a bunch of sweets, and the list goes on…

Once officially hired on as an employee, I started plating.  In addition to production, I now plate desserts and cheese plates.  I like plating desserts more than plating cheese and charcuterie because I don’t know too much about cheese and charcuterie, I’m not too fond of some of the sticky, stinky cheeses (yet), and there are many components to a certain plate that I try my best to make look nice.  Of all the things I do in pastry, I love production.  It is, in some way, very therapeutic and rewarding to see the end result.

Another cool thing about work, I find it exciting and fun to watch our pastry chefs experiment with new recipes and to create seasonal items.  It keeps things interesting and so much fun.  Like this week, Breanne made these awesome Easter marshmallow peeps.  For St. Patrick’s Day, they made a decadent chocolate Guinness cake with a chocolate stout glaze…so good!  There were a few other new items that I don’t know the names of yet.  Check out Breanne’s blog for unique and exciting creations she brings to Tavern, http://bitesofsugar.blogspot.com/.

So, this is where I’ve been… at Tavern, http://www.tavernla.com/.  I look forward to getting accustomed to plating dinner desserts on the busiest days of the week and getting better at multi-tasking.  I’m happy to be working with great people and for a solid family of restaurants.  Through this family, I’m also able to cater with Lucques Catering. This month I had such an incredible time catering an Oscar party and catering a Madmen-themed party, seeing so many celebrities up close.  I think I may discuss these events in my next post.

For now, it’s time to say good night, sweet dreams, bon appetite and I’ll talk to you later…

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