Thursday, November 26, 2009

Time to Make the Donuts

Remember that classic early 80's commercial? Many times I feel just like him getting up at 5 in the morning to go and bake at my internship. I'm working at a production kitchen doing just about anything they tell me, from making marzipan pumpkins (which I rock at) to cutting bars and everything in-between. By far my favorite thing was making boxes, hard to mess that one up and I am an expert at packaging.

However, I did meet my first foe in the kitchen that officially scared me—a 60 quart mixer. Think about how much 60 quarts really is and imagine the bowl to hold that, a small child could take a bath in it. The spatula to scrape the bowl looks like some industrial ice chipper. I was afraid, very afraid. I mean let's face it, I'm a B.O.A.S (that's bit-of-a-spiller) to begin with but add 60 quarts of batter, a beater and a very powerful motor? We're talking high probability of stuff going everywhere. I never did the full lucy and ethel but there was a few incidents where a mop was required. I will not talk of my uniform those days. Classic B.O.A.S.

Well, on Wednesday my time was done. I did my 111 hours of indentured servitude and I am going to one up Donna Martin and graduate. I can't believe this year is over, what a ride it has been. Only a few more weeks and I'll officially graduate and have my $19,000 certificate to prove it.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Under the Sea

It's done. Finally. This piece has been torture for me. It started with the missing coral that needed to be recast. Next, the tree coral with swimming fish decided to take a big fat digger and broke into a hundred pieces. Nothing is going my way on this one.

Finally, finally I got everything repaired and assembled. My lumps and chunks of chocolate were formed into fish, corals, shells and starfish. Photo taken, assignment completed.

The last step is to enter it into the Chocolate Extravaganza put on by the Pastry Professionals of Minnesota this weekend. With my track record I think I may do better walking it over to the convention center instead of driving it. Don't bad things come in three? Wish me luck on getting inside in one piece.

Sweet Revenge

Normally I love any type of showpiece but I wasn't excited about this assignment: create a chocolate sculpture 18" high that represents the theme of animals. Yuk, I had a bad feeling about thist. I decided to make a coral reef, this way blobby clumps would look artistic without having to be too precise.

Step one, temper 4 pounds of chocolate and pour a base. That only took 2 hours. Step two, temper 6 pounds of dark chocolate and create three pieces of coral. To develop lumps and bumps I poured tempered chocolate into a pan of ice, allowed it to set up and as quickly as possible remove the ice as water is not the friend of chocolate. It took me 3 hours but it looked great. I was happy... do you see it coming?

Three coral pieces assembled on top of the base

The next day (Sunday, yup we have to do extra hours for this bad boy) I go to the rack with all our chocolate on it and I can't find my coral. Where is it? The slot where I put it was empty, all the other trays were there except mine. I couldn't believe it, 3 hours of work, down the drain. Breathe, breathe, don't get angry, breathe. That's what I get for putting my name on the tray. Really? 3 hours later I once again had some lumps of chocolate coral and a slightly bitter attitude.

The mystery was solved next week. Any guesses who did it? The Chef who taught the cake decorating class. She thought it was "dirty chocolate" (we always have a big tray of crap chocolate that gets used for practice) and said it wasn't labeled well. Yeah, not buying it. Who thinks my three perfectly round chunks of coral looked like a big tray of messy, gloppy, dirty chocolate. Me and dirty? I think not. I'll never get my 3 hours back, so I guess I'll just have to start making wedding cakes that are better than hers.

Fred the Scorpion

Meet fred, the scorpion shaped cake that I made for my godson's 4th birthday (see what happens when you let the 4 year old choose the theme?). He came with rice krispy tail and claws, light blue cake guts and heath bar crunch buttercream.

Unfortunately a bout of flu and strep throat prevented him from enjoying this very boyish cake. What to do? Let a teacher friend bring it to school (even if it was 6 days old). See what happens when you leave free food out in the teachers lounge?

Opening Day

Here it is, opening day of 350° Bakery. It recieved rave reviews (from the AI staff and stoned students that really needed a snack) and looks to be the hottest thing on 4th floor. So tier one!

Look closely and you'll see that some things never change. Yes, I'm the one doing dishes. Can you believe I posted a photo of myself!

Falling Back

Not daylight savings time... falling back into my old life of branding, marketing and design. Hi, my name is Stephanie and I'm addicted to making things look amazing and being better than everyone else. Is there a meeting for this? Sign me up because I need help.

My final class is production baking, basically we run a bakery on campus from 7:30 to 11:00 am and sell everything from breakfast sandwiches, scones, muffins, cookies, cupcakes to puppy chow and pizza. Besides developing the menu options, part of the class is to decide on a name, create a logo and come up with a marketing plan. You see it coming don't you.

This class includes everyone in our current graduation cycle—EVERYONE—so needless to say there was a tier one meeting (have I not explained the tier system that naturally develops in all social environments?) to strategize. The last thing we needed was chatty kathy who kept telling us she would go into anaphylactic shock if she breathed in pepper smell while eating pepper laden food making any decisions. Not going to happen. Tier one went into full swing, we were determined to have an entire plan ready from menu to marketing by day one.

Here's where I fell hard back into my old life. I took on the naming, logo, packaging, marketing and overall look and feel of the bakery. I had almost two weeks, piece of cake (yeah, I said piece of cake). On day one I had a complete visual presentation including 5 name & logo options, 3 sample posters, 2 sample labels, frequent buyer card, signage program, advertising plan and a basic color palette. Shocked faces, they didn't know what to say. Welcome to the first lesson on how to professionally present and sell your ideas. Take notes people.

Needless to say Chef put me in charge of the PR committee and I became the creative director and marketing director in one. So here it is, the production bakery name for the class that is always "setting the standards" (according to many of the chef's).