Pies and Pâte à choux- Day 2

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today we finished up our pecan and lemon meringue pies, as well as our eclairs and profiteroles. My group was having some issues today so some things didn't come out as well as hoped. There are two other women in my group. One is about to graduate next semester and has been cooking in a restaurant setting for 10 years. The other...has not. Both are very nice people and I enjoy having conversation with both of them. Having conversation and cooking are two separate things, though.

I really hate drama. It makes me anxious and uncomfortable and it really can't look good to Chef, either. I, therefore, try to be either the peacemaker, or I walk away and try to avoid the situation all together. I washed pots alot, today. The less experienced woman (Let's call her Chef A), is having trouble measuring things accurately. She also doesn't listen very well when Chef CJ talks, and doesn't take initiative to do much of anything. She just kind of wanders around aimlessly, not even trying very hard to look busy. I, personally, have not had too many issues with her, but I try to be polite with everyone, even if they are driving me crazy. I chose, at the beginning of the day, to mediate the situation by asking her politely to do tasks that would not affect the overall success of the dish, but were still contributing. IE, "Chef A, would you mind melting this butter for me? I'm working on this right now, but we need this butter in the next step." Or, "Would you mind removing the beans from the pie shells, please? We are almost ready to fill them." She didn't mind doing these tasks.

At one point those kinds of things were mostly done, and she decided to go make the churros. I caught Chef B's eye and she just mumbled to let her do it and if she messed it up, we would go back and fix it later. I shrugged and let her go do her thing. The problem was that churro dough is extremely similar to the pate a choux dough and she had to do that three times yesterday before she was successful, and the third try she had Chef CJ walking her through it. Chef B and I continued to work on various items and at one point there was a moment where my project was finished and Chef B asked me to go check on Chef A. She was just pulling her dough off the stovetop and putting it into the mixer. It had huge white chunks of flour in it still and did not look like the correct consistency. Instead of criticizing her, I went to Chef CJ and asked her to come look at OUR dough and see if she thought it looked right. She asked, "What dough?" looked up, saw Chef A with the dough, and said, "Oh. I get it. I'll be right there." She came over and took over with Chef A.

Chef A and Chef B seem to butt heads, however. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but they just can't talk to each other without making each other mad. Chef A can't take criticism *or even helpful comments* from Chef B without getting angry. They just kind of snap at each other. At one point Chef B was making a comment to me about Chef A not listening and Chef A was standing right behind her and overheard. They got into a screaming match. Literally. I walked away to wash dishes.

The day continued in a downward spiral after that. Our lemon for the lemon meringue didn't set up and the crepe batter was not the right consistency and kept cooking like scrambled eggs. Both of those things were a result of mismeasurement by Chef A. The lemon was mixed yesterday before we realized the problem with measurement. Chef CJ took Chef B and I aside and said not to worry, that we weren't graded on final outcome, and that we were switching groups next week so just to hang on. I guess both Chef A and B had gone separately to Chef CJ to complain about the other. Thankfully, I managed to stay out of it, as much as I possible could and told both that I don't like drama and I didn't really want to talk about it. Nicely.

For the most part, the food came out alright, though. A very kind chef from another group had extra crepe batter and let us use it to practice making correct crepes. Once I had correct batter, I was able to turn out my crepes quickly. Chef B had made a yummy cooked pear and strawberry mixture to use as a filling for our crepes and we used some ganache when we went to plate our items. That was another fun part. We are starting to plate our own food and make it look pretty. We get to use pretty much whatever we want to use from the kitchen and those options are extensive. She is giving us more time at the end of class to do this, so we even have time to make some of our own sauces and cooked garnishes.

In the end, we had pecan pie *with added chocolate pieces in the filling*, lemon meringue pie *kind of*, eclairs and profiteroles with a pastry cream filling and chocolate ganache, crepes, baklava, and churros *again, kind of. I didn't photograph these.*






Next week is cakes and icings. I'm most excited about making a chocolate angel food cake!


jennifer said...

That's awesome that you stayed out of it and remained neutral. I wish I could do that, I claim to not like drama, but I do tend to create a lot of it, lol.
The pix look awesome, I want a taste screen on my laptop.
Pic #3 resembles one of those medical insignia, so cool. Keep it up and keep your distance, ha ha. I hope Chef A realzies her short comings, poor thing.

smbracy said...

I'm right there with ya, Jen. Heather you are such a wonderful person and it is great that you attempted to redirect your co-partner without making her feel like a screw up. Keep up the great work!

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