Saturday, November 06, 2010

Fall Festival

Student Services hosted a Fall Festival for the students with caramel apples, popcorn, punch, pumpkin carving competitin and a costume competition.  All smiles on deck....

Friday, November 05, 2010

Make it easy......

A co teacher was telling me about this one student who can't seem to do anything right in the Baking and Pastry kitchen.  Since I have been working late nights in their kitchen, I was watching him and had casually said, "let me know if I can help you"...I can see in his face the desire to conquer baking, and the willingness to work on it.  So, at some point I saw him struggling with marzipan carrots,  and I showed him an easy-way technique, and this kid was so grateful and so proud that he actually overcame a what to him was such a difficult task.

Sometimes, we really have to acknowledge that the students of today have so much baggage that prevents them from learning the way we used to, and that we have to design easy-way techniques for them to acquire a skill set. We so easily get frustrated and expect our students to think for themselves, but we don't teach them how....

The real awards of teaching is when these students come to you, so grateful for the tiny little time you spent with them.....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Freddi and Marshall's Cake

Former Vice President of Academic Affairs Marshall Shafkowitz married  Freddi Press in Chicago in a beautiful ceremony Saturday, Oct 23.  I designed an all white cake for the couple using different heights and textures for each tier.  Pulled sugar flowers added to the simplicity yet, elegance of the very tall cake.

Free Hands On CupcakeWorkshop

Every month we select a theme for a  free hands on workshop I conduct for my Baking and Pastry Club for our students.  October was cupcake month.  We used several media for frosting and decorations...from buttercream, ganache,modeling chocolate, marzipan, fondant, royal are some pictures

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Nicholas Lodge on Massa (Albert Uster's Rolled Fondant)

Nicholas Lodge, now spokesperson for Albert Uster's Massa line just ended a roadshow using the Americana line of Massa.  Chicago was the last stop for his demonstrations showcasing the amethyst Americana Massa. Nicholas Lodge is an expert demonstrator...his work is clean, precise,detailed, and he does not hold back on useful tips for the professional or the student. There were several useful tips tonight including gathering inspiration from current trends in fashion, home decor, paint colors, magazines, flavor profiling of cakes, frostings and coverings. He also talked about the different ph of fondants and other pastes that affect colors, the use of mold putty for making quick fondant or50-50 molds ...Interesting was his explanation of non-toxic and inedible...There were several key points that I totally agree with, like heavy use of vanilla and other flavors that make profiles confusing, the advantage of using both water and fat soluble food colors, but, at the same time extremely proud that we cover most of these things in our cake decorating classes.
Also, part of the Albert Uster collection is the newer Orchid line of chocolates, it is 1/2 the price of what we use at school (Felchlin), and there is reason for it......Sorry, for the lack of good pictures, and although I admire Nicholas Lodge, it is not one of his best ...

Friday, October 01, 2010

L'Atelier de Patissier: Cupcakes

Hands-On Workshop for October was cupcakes.  17 Baking & Patisserie students,1 Cuisine student, and 2 alumni attended the free monthly workshop.  I demonstrated the different media used in covering cupcakes, fondant, pate a glace, modeling chocolate, buttercream.  I showed the different texture mats and rollers that are quite popular, also showed some of the preprinted fondant sheets that can be "glued" to rolled out fondant for a custom look. Different finishing techniques were employed, in addition to different decors or garnishes.  We piped, shaped, colored, and hada ball....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Jim Henson's Fantastic World At the Museum of Science and Industry

After last year's work on the White House, we've been asked again by the Museum to create some cupcakes(600) to celebrate and commemorate Jijm Henson's 74th birthday in conjunction with the opening of the  Smithsonian exhibit of his work at the Museum of Science and Industry.  I, with the help of several students created 13 muppet characters out of marzipan, rum balls (without the rum), royal icing, buttercream,  and pastillage .  Kermit, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Oscar, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Beaker, Rawlf, Big Bird, Dr Honeydew, Grover, the Swedish Chef all shared equal billing at the event.  Mrs Jane Henson, Bonnie Erickson, ArthurNevelle (?), some directors from the Smithsonian, the president of the MSI and Chef Santicola, ChefCorrado, Karine Slyman, John Montanile and Tom Beckman were also present.  Many studentds came to repesent the school and hand out free cupcakes to the children present.

Pumpkin Harvest

I have never grown a pumpkin ever,and one day, while inspecting the garden, I was surprised by one almost ripe pumpkin..We harvested a few days ago...there is another one though, but it is on the other side of the fence...we will have to get 2 ladders to climb to the other side of  fenced but otherwise vacant lot.  What a waste...this lot sits empty and overgrown and it is so easy to plant vegetables that can be donated to the food pantry

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Great Finds at the Green City Market: Lincoln Park, Chicago, IL

My class got done earlytoday with their cookie practical so I was granted permission to take them on a field trip to the Green City Farmer's Market. It was probably less than 2 miles from school but parking was hard to find...we probably should have taken the train.....

I was not impressed with the new varieties of melons that were quite bland and flavorless.  The colors were beautiful, but that was about it.  I found a great collection of cucumbers at one stall, which by the way, I have growing in our school garden, including the beautiful lemon cucumbers.  I am also proud to say, that we have most of those herbs in our small garden, from the lemon grass, to the sage, different varieties of basil and thyme, the different mints, lemon balm, bergamot, garlic chives, chives. I also enjoyed the assortment of grapes at one store, especially the jupiters. The local cheeses were also generally good, the tofu place was outrageous, and I am really not into raw grass with tofu.  I love tofu, just not  pureed into a nasty green. I probably expected to see more flowers, being an avid gardener myself...but aside from the annuals like cosmos and glads, the flowers also were not a show stealer.

The class, however, had a great was a beautiful day at the park...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wedding Cakes: Sarah Berridge

I owned a bakery for 10 years and I made wedding cakes every weekend...not that I am burnt out, I am just happy and contented with  sharing what I know about the business and production of wedding cakes....but, once in a while, I like to practice.  This is Sarah's cake.  Sarah is one of our Admissions Rep at school. Her reception is at one of the trendy loft-style reception sites in the downtown Chicago area.   Her cake is a 4 tiered traditional with assorted flavors for each tier.  The fondant is made from scratch, the flowers are hand molded gumpaste cymbidiums.  Simple, elegant.

ICES Convention San Diego California, Aug 12-15

Spent just a little over 2 days in beautiful San Diego to attend the ICES Convention at the Town & Country Resort. Received 2 pins and a Certificate for my Display and Demo.  I did a demonstration on pulled sugar flowers for wedding cakes. My class was completely sold out, and I personally tried to get tickets to my own demo for some friends I met at the convention.  They won't give me any, I was told, it was soldout to the maximum number of attendees, and they even had to change my room from Royal Palm 4 to California, the biggest demo room.  I was very happy with the turn out, and also how comfortable I was at the demo.  I showed fellow cake decorators from all over the world how to pull calla lilies, Japanese anemones, roses, peonies and also cymbidium orchids, in one hour.  I had an awesome response from the attendees.  I also am very appreciative of the help I got from some vendors including Caljava for the Fondx, Cake Play for the greatest new product at the convention, isomalt sticks for your glue gun, NY Cake and Baking Supplies for the silicone leaf molds, the Town and Country Chef and also their Exec Pastry Chef for loaning me a propane tank for my torch (can't fly with one).  Also,big thanks to my friend and CMSA Jing Palasigue who acted as my assistant and my former student Jaimee Park who helped me with my prep.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Update: Le Cordon Bleu Chicago's Organic Garden

Where is the garden:  the Vegetable Garden is North of the Main Building on  Chestnut, downtown Chicago, just right along the property fence. The Butterfly Garden is just outseide Admission's windows, right alongside  the building wall.

What is the purpose of the garden:  to show students the connection with food, how it grows, how it is used and how it is used to nourish lives.

What grows in the garden;  the vegetable garden this year is much more mature than last year, its first year.  The mint as expected has prospered, the oregano is half my size, and the chives have so much bloom, I have lost track (I always know how many buds my plants have) The thyme, has not stopped, the lemon grass, the rosemary, the sage, are all spritely. The broccoli has dropped seed and is as healthy as can be, the rapini has sown anywhere and everywhere. the chard is colorful, the tomatoes look promising, the onions on its way to making everybody cry...The peppers seem a little slow, the squashes not quite happy with all the rain and clouds.  The green beans doing better than expected, the yard long beans, and the basil are  perhaps waiting for better weather.  The peapod is a surprise, perhaps due to the cold weather.  I was late spreading the coriander and the dill, but saw that it is better late than never.  There are eggplants, tomatillos, and a lone sunflower.
           The butterfly garden, offsprings of my own home garden, may be healthier than their brothers and sisters due to a sunnier and a more manageable location.

For the Love of RMHC

The Ronald McDonald House of Charities, CEC's partner charity, wants to build another "House" in the Chicago area and has enlisted the help of Cordon Bleu Chicago to help raise funds towards the effort. This special night saw the presence of Lovey Smith, Chicago Bear's Head Coach and his wife, together with Gary McCullough, CEC President at  our beloved restaurant, Chataigne. Also in attendance was Lloyd Kirsch, School President, while Chef Marshall, headed faculty and students in the kitchen...