Page 42 - Pastry & Baking Magazine

Pastry & Baking
North America
Chef in Focus
demand after just opening. They took off and now we have
dedicated production for them. Twice baked almond croissant
actually created what is essentially a full-time position on
our staff.
What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?
My rotary blade that was designed to cut fabrics like denim –
makes perfectly clean cuts through laminations in croissant
dough. Another is my air compressor. We can use it to clean the
heat exchangers on the various compressors around the shop,
and it’s also handy for certain finishes in chocolate production.
A stick blender tops the list for ease of certain fillings and
chocolate work.
What culinary trend drives you nuts?
The one thing that is a little hard to understand is the boom in the
Food Truck concept. I get having carts or a pop-up in a busy
downtown area with limited building spaces for food service, but
now there are essentially food courts for trucks in places, or they
show up randomly in neighborhoods and well serviced areas.
Where I grew up they were considered a bit, sketchy, to say the
least, but now people are setting up gourmet food prep in trucks
and converted campers. I wouldn’t say it’s driving me nuts- it’s just
odd to me.
For those readers considering baking as a profession, what
advice can you offer?
Baking and pastry has truly been a real gratifying way of life, and
again I do mean ‘Way of Life’ and not a job- I can’t really imagine
anything else being this fun and waking up and wanting to go
directly to work. That’s one thing you have to be prepared for-
baking is a craft, and you won’t be successful at a craft if you treat
it as a 9-5.
In general, I don’t usually recommend school – just work for
a while and find your way before you commit to spending lots of
money that could be better spent on continuing education programs
that specialize in your favorite topics. If you do want to go to
school, get the best bang for your buck- investigate local community
college programs as well as the big name schools. We’ve had some
really good employees who went that route, and had the same
basics coming in.
When you start somewhere, always look to being efficient
and being organized, and realize it’s going to be hard work. Also
understand that if you do have a degree, it really only means you
know technique and that you will have to adapt to how a given
kitchen does things- you’ll be expected to master their methods
and not argue ‘Well, we did it like this in class’ – this has been
a problem with some externs, and some tryouts. Learn what’s
required, then ask about differences, but don’t argue about them.
This goes for those with working experience too.
Are their expansion plans in the works for Bakery Nouveau?
As far as the future is concerned, maybe one more retail shop on
the other side of town would be fun. Something that fits within
the neighborhood or community. Possibly different than here,
being more patisserie oriented and less boulangerie. Another
dream is to build out a separate chocolate facility next to bakery.
I would also like that kind of space to be setup where I could
properly teach both home-cook and professional level classes,
showing a range of technology and technique.
execution of daily products that customers see. Jean-Claude
Canestrier for organization of staff, products, quality and to always
question everything you and others do.
How does the creative process generally work for you?
Creative process begins with the seasons and customer demands for
products. When I think about certain cakes or candies, I look at it
like a triangle. There are three points – for example two flavors and
one texture – keeping in mind the palate of the customers. A few
drawings and sample runs, then planning and asking,“Is this practical
or not, if not, can it be made so? Can I make money on this or will
it cost money?” Any more than that can get confusing and too
complicated to train staff. Keep it simple and produce it well!
Quality of ingredients is an overriding concern at Bakery
Nouveau. How do you go about sourcing your ingredients?
As far as sourcing certain ingredients I will look at what I am paying,
if the quality is worth the cost, where it is coming from and if I can
get it a little closer to home. I try to keep good and consistent
relationships with our vendors, as loyalty extends both ways, but
I’m also up front that I am looking for the best I can get at the best
cost too.
So, lately, I’ve been looking at using internet looking to go
direct for some of our ingredient needs. Our first real trial was
pecans- we were paying $265.00 a box of thirty pounds from a
local vendor. I started looking around for pecans in small Oklahoma
companies that process nuts and found one in Shawnee Oklahoma
growing up in the AR/OK area helped me know where to look).
With certain order guarantees, they were willing to work with me
on price, and we eventually ended up at $180.00 per case, thereby
saving me $2.66 a pound, but also getting a superior product with
much better flavor!
You offer macarons at Bakery Nouveau? How are they doing?
Gaining, waning or steady in popularity?
According to a couple of my staff,macarons are the bane of production!
They must be fresh and keep the right texture even while sharing the
showcase with chocolates or other goods. We produce about 2000 a
week and try to keep the variety at 10-12 kinds daily. Each time I
introduce a production member to making them, I get the look of
Why must a little cookie be such a bitch to make?”
However, they are a nice cookie, being just about the perfect
size for a treat, and people do really enjoy the colors, texture, and
of course the flavor of the fillings. They are the first things customers
see upon entry, and the volume is remaining high. I expect they’ll
remain popular, although the intensity might slack off a bit.
Best known for your twice-baked almond croissant, what’s the
I picked up this little way to minimize product loss from a master
pastry chef, and he always said if I made more of those I would end
up making them all day. He only made so many each day, and
would sell out every day! I don’t like to be out of product, so we
sell them into the afternoon for those that like a warm buttery,
almond treat in the late afternoon to go with coffee. As for the
secret, my attorney would strongly advice against my sharing the
one element that makes ours truly great – my CFSC might have a
few words too!
That chef was right though – we started twice baked as kind
of pain perdu for croissant back when we had large swings in