Monday, February 10, 2014

Loving You More: Kelly at the French Pastry School in Chicago

As part of our "How We Love you More in Twenty One Four" series, we're showing you how we've been stepping up things. To show you how much we love our clients, we strive everyday to be better at all things we do.

Kelly with Chef Bourse, her classmates, and their creations.

Chef Bourse piping Italian meringue onto the "Exotic Island Tart".

The "Florida" - joconde sponge cake with rose grapefruit cream, strawberry jelly, and vanilla chantilly cream

The "Plaisir Festif" with caramel glaze.
Last month, our very talented pastry chef, Kelly McCloskey, attended a course at the world famous French Pastry School in Chicago. The four day intensive course was a focus on "Cakes, Entremets, Petits Gâteaux and Tarts" and was taught by visiting Chef Frederic Bourse.

Frederic Bourse was born in France, learned the fine art of pastry during several formative years in the world-renowned pastry kitchens of Fauchon under Chef Pierre Hermé, Ecole Lenôtre, Pascal Brunstein, M.O.F., (if any of those names mean anything to you) and many more. He has a famous patisserie in Bergamo, Italy called L'Atelier del Gusto.

Chef Bourse has a signature approach to dessert-making, bringing together flavors and techniques that are both traditional AND new. He has spent years traveling and working all over the world which has allowed him to gain unique insight into ingredients and flavors not often used in pastry.

The untraditional is what attracted Kelly to this course. "He showed us that it is okay to use modern techniques in traditional pastry-making. Softening butter in a microwave is one example! He mentioned while he was using the microwave that this was a big 'no-no' in the traditional schools, but that there is no reason to not use modern conveniences when the need arises." Although the success of many pastries relies on having the exact equipment, Chef Bourse showed students how to improvise when necessary.

The students spent the first three days of the course prepping for 11 items they made on the fourth day. Kelly's favorite item to make was the "Via Spadari" Italian street cookie. This cookie is a favorite in Chef Bourse's patisserie in Bergamo, Italy.

The "Via Spadari" Italian Street Cookie.
"I really enjoyed learning this item because I know that it is something that Two Caterers clients will enjoy. It is a gourmet item that is based on the convenience of street food, will hold up well in the unique timing/challenges of catering and is gorgeous AND delicious." The Via Spadari is a type of shortbread with dried fruit, almonds, and pralines.

In total, the class learned eleven different items with variations on each item, including the "Fondantde Bourgogne" a fondant cake base with apple & black currant compote and sliced almonds and a "Fiesta Tart" with vanilla sweet paste and a star anise cremeaux on a crispy hazelnut and coffee base. Kelly has already started experimenting with these new items and techniques in the Two Caterers kitchen and hopes to have new menu items soon.

The best part of the trip (other than the class, of course) was getting a free cab ride after class one day. Kelly had a box full of sweet treats that the cab driver was eyeing. Turns out, he had a huge sweet tooth and wanted to trade the ride for some gourmet French pastries!

We're posting more photos from Kelly's trip on our Facebook page... but do not look if you are hungry because these pastries may push you to go sugar wild!

Kelly doing the only sightseeing for which she had time - the Willis Tower!