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Announcements, Changes and Opportunities: Week 14 in the Kitchen

Before I get into the thick of my week, I want to take this time to make the big reveal to everyone who isn’t already aware of the news. So you know how I like to be prepared for everything? Well, not wanting to be lost and jobless when I finished my internship here, I went ahead and applied (and was accepted) at Gastronomicom’s new school in Miami for an additional three months of pastry school with Chef Vincent starting this January. And somehow more thrilling than that even, I was just officially offered–and have officially accepted–an internship at a michelin restaurant in Tokyo beginning next April. Also there is more gossip, but you will have to keep reading this post to figure out what it is 😉

 So lets get back to my week. On Sunday there was barely any work to do—and I know, I know, I’ve been saying that more and more recently, but seriously it was so true this day. When I arrived at work I found out that we had a measly five covers for the night, which img_8357briefly escalated to 11 before dropping back to five…one of whom didn’t order dessert. Thus, when I arrived to work, ready to carry out my typical routine, I entered the kitchen to find that everything for the day had already been completely prepared.

Jean Marc told me to go ahead and do a trial for a new
mignardise, and thank god I was actually prepared to do so! And so despite having just walked in for my shift, I went about in my own little world, collecting tools and ingredients to carry out an idea that had just popped into my head the day before. All in all, it went over quite smoothly–and everyone from my pastry coworkers to Chef Yoric liked my idea, with only a few small tips on how to take it to the next level of greatness. Unfortunately since Chef doesn’t work on Sundays, I had to box up all my ingredients and wait to get the final ‘yes or no’ response from him on Tuesday. Which is fine. Its not like I’m a highly anxious person who thinks too much and stresses needlessly right?  Ha.

On Monday I walked out of my room to go to the supermarket and ran into Diego attempting to carry a huge load of pastries back to Belles Rives. So despite the fact that I wasn’t on the clock for another three hours give or take, I took one of his boxes and walked back with him, partially to ensure the cakes didn’t end up all over the sidewalk and partially because I had nothing better to do.

I went into the day thinking there were zero reservations, and having been told by Stan that if it were another day like Sunday that he would let me have the night off. I even made tentative plans for my evening, and daydreamed about what it would be like to have a Monday night off for the first time in three months. And when I arrived at work, there was so little to do that Diego and Lea and I stood around chatting and flipping through recipes for nearly 30 minutes. And then it commenced—and Stan and I suddenly turned into a whirlwind of work as staff walked by one-by-one to inform us of new reservations. And it
escalated to the point where we suddenly had to increase the number of pre-desserts and mignardise! (Which of course I ran around the kitchen completing as Stan casually sat on the counter chatting with Clarisse who had come to visit us T_T But actually it went img_8404smoothly so I’m not complaining).

“Have you seen my machine of war?” Stan asked Clarisse.

“Maddie?”

“Yes, she is our secret weapon–does the job of multiple people. Dit moi si t’as besoin d’aide, Maddie!”

That night, as the dinner service began we continued to do mise en place for the next day, and Stan continued to work on his trial for a new dessert. In the end it all turned out well, but things like that stress me out incredibly, and I was already not in my right mind from having to work a night of 30 covers when I was thinking I might be given the night off. I think Stan was a bit frustrated with me—and at one point he mentioned that I was more unorganized and out of sorts than usual T_T—but in the end, he still proudly described me as his “weapon of war” to anyone who would listen, and I still got a lot done despite doing many new tasks and being, I remind you, an intern of three months!

Tuesday I showed up to work and was prodded into showing Chef the new mignardise by Floriane before I started in on other tasks for the day. I *super tentatively* walked with img_8364my little plate of desserts into the staff office where Chef was getting some work done on the computer, and told him that I had done a trial for a new mignardise and briefly explained what I had done.

He took one of the little pieces and popped it in his mouth. He asked me a few more questions. He picked apart another and continued to eat it.

“On sent pas le poire. Mais c’est bon. Okay.”

WHAT THE @%*# DOES THAT MEAN, CHEF?!

So I returned to the kitchen to numerous questions posed by Floriane–mostly none of which I could answer on account of I don’t understand how Chef’s mind works and while it was a positive reaction, it was still utterly confusing. After a bit Chef came out of the office and Floriane asked him some of the questions we had both been wanting answers to, and by the end of the conversation it was determined that we would start using this idea for the mignardise as long as we added a confit or gel that would enhance the flavor of the pear.

With Chef’s go-ahead, I started the mise en place for the choux we would be needing– which I was now doing for the second time this week and was actually mostly comfortable doing.

We had a super chill night of 20 covers, just me and the Chef and Floriane, but one table was a table of VIPs—I think they were chefs from the area and friends of Chef Yoric’s—so we went all out to make several rounds of perfect desserts. Our typical pre-dessert was traded out for a mini version of our raspberry dessert, and everything for the dessert and mignardise was hand selected out of all of our stock to ensure it was the best of the best. img_8378Of course, nothing can ever go as perfectly as you would like it to, and there was a wee problem that we had to face. Okay so it was actually a large problem.

The refrigerators with the plaques of ingredients for each desserts hadn’t been completely and thoroughly checked that afternoon, and the siphon of rice pudding cream that we use for the pineapple dessert was completely empty. And there was zero in storage in the other refrigerator. We had nothing, and were seconds away from sending out the dessert–which we had initially intended to send out first to the table. After about three minutes of stress, anger and panic on my, Chef’s and Floriane’s parts respectively, we substituted a different cream and moved on with our night. Things like this happen–and luckily this time it was not my fault, but that doesn’t mean next time it won’t be.

After having heard Chef telling Floriane the day before that I would be working “18” or a shift that started at 9am and went to 6pm (or 18h if you are following the 24 hour clock) I showed up bright and early in the kitchen for a weird day that started at 9am… after only
four hours of sleep the night before. It was SO bizarre to start at that time in the morning, and since there was a large single group that night with the restaurant being closed, there img_8392was no need to the boys in cuisine to come in early–so for the first couple hours all the lights over in cuisine were off and it was just us few over in pastry occupying the entire basement of the hotel. Since we didn’t have a service to prepare for though, we tackled a list of mise en place for the days and weeks to come including for the new pre-dessert created by Diego and the new mignardise I created. That said, there were still not a ton of things to do because we are more or less on schedule, so Floriane took a solid chunk out of the afternoon to play with chocolate. I’m sure she got a few necessary things done, but I think she spent about half the time trying ideas for the chocolate for the predessert and mignardise….and it was all over the counter.

When the cuisiners did show up on Wednesday, however, it was much to my disgruntlement. Nans swept into pastry, as he is apt to do, and brightly said “Hi Floriane! Hi Tristan! Oh…I mean…Maddie….Hi Maddie…” And thus commenced a solid three hours of him attempting to get me to admit to my relationship and spreading the rumors to everyone else over in cuisine who wasn’t already curious about my love life.

 The problem is, you see, is that it is, in fact, true. Remember way back my second week here, when one of the boys asked me why I smiled so much? And that same boy decided to help me with my French while eating lunch with me? And we went to the beach to explore and eat sushi? Well…We have actually  been dating. Its so cheesy that I can’t possibly be making it up, so much so that I should probably get around to writing that Korean soap opera that my sister-in-law recommended I write about my life here 😛 Him, the French apprentice in cuisine, me, the American intern in pastry–both of our chefs having warned us away from dating each other when they caught wind of our flirtation weeks ago. But there you have it.

Thursday flew by in a whirlwind of final preparations for the new mignardise which would be starting on Friday–which was a day off for me, so everything needed to be absolutely ready to go without me. As I carried out trial after trial for the spiced cream I wanted to use, getting more and more anxious and stressed as they continued to not be strong img_8366enough to hold up to the new and powerful taste of the pear, I continued to be teased about a relationship I had yet to confirm. And so, that night, near the end of service as everything was winding down and the chef was about to leave for the night, I whipped up the final version of the mignardise to make sure he was still on board despite the changes I made.

Stan came over to where I was working and started asking me if I had a boyfriend back in the US. He asked if I wanted one. If I wanted to meet someone in France. And between the constant questions and the days of having been pestered by the cuisine and my stress over the mignardise and Chef’s response, I turned to him and just flat out said “I have a boyfriend, okay!” Which of course he was shocked by, which prompted more questions. And of course Nans happened to be there at his shoulder, grinning. And naturally, now that two of the biggest gossips in the hotel know, everyone–even the boys who work up in the bar–know.

Thank you to all my new and old readers for staying with me through this long post and all the previous ones! I have only four short weeks left of this adventure, but as you now know, this is far from the end. I hope you are all looking as forward to my next adventures in Miami and Japan as I am, and that you will continue to come back to follow my kitchen, baking and travel adventures. Stay tuned for more!

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