When my team of juniors proposed and staged The Brothers Grimm dessert degustation at the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, it became more apparent than ever that behind every pastry chef is an amazing team.
On April 30, six amazingly talented pastry chefs and apprentices pulled off a seven-course degustation themed around the dark and sinister Brothers Grimm fairytales. It was dramatic, it was magical and it was a testament to their skills and determination to succeed.
My vision has always been to build the future of Australian pastry chefs; to lead the next generation. I’m known for being tough and I have a reputation for pushing young pastry chefs in my care to the best of their ability. I must be doing something right though, because my team are a talented bunch and each has their own unique skill set and personality.
I’ve been working on my own dessert degustation menus for more than a year now, and I felt it was time for my team to take charge, without my influence. So, they put a proposal together, all typed and binded.
As head chef, Felicity Goodchild pulled the group together, organising secret meetings outside of work hours. They had to look into more than just their dishes – they needed to consider a theme, props, music, ordering, costing, writing a menu that flows, menus, advertising and marketing. They even had to organise sponsors and, once again, Gary Willis with the F.Mayer team rose to the occasion.
Apprentices and young chefs are the future of our industry. Putting them in the corner or a section without guiding or pushing them through the ranks won’t lead to anything worthwhile. As mentors, we are responsible for building them up, guiding them and supporting them.
They trust us to lead them, so we should trust them to take the lead when the time is right. One dream, one team.
SNOW WHITE | Zoe Chen, commis chef
Coconut, apple ice tea sorbet and black sambuca
“Being a part of creating and organising our own degustation has been an amazing opportunity and an incredible step toward becoming a great pastry chef. But it’s not all about the desserts, there’s so much more than you realise that you never thought you would have to think about and that really opens your eyes to what chefs actually do.”
THE ROSE | Alec Lowe, commis chef
Plum, rose, clove, crème d’amande, almond clove streusel
“I’ve been able to take away from the experience a positive feeling for the importance of a pastry brigade with a wide range of different skills, techniques, knowledge, personal styles and ideas. It was essential I to work as a team and help each other out if someone was stuck or looking for ideas.”
LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD | Philip Khoury, first year apprentice
Almonds, amaretto, muscatels and chocolate
“We had to get together as a team and see first-hand the challenges of being a pastry chef outside of the actual pastry cooking and agree on a theme, put together a proposal, seek outside support, publicise the event and then design a cohesive menu that showcased our individual strength and vision on a plate.”
BRIDES ON THEIR TRAIL | Felicity goodchild, chef de partie and and Philip Khoury, first year apprentice
Le Conquerant, pretzels and smoked salted butter
SLEEPING BEAUTRY | Felicity Nheu, second year apprentice
Cherry, grue cocoa tuile, dark chocolate brownie, merry melody
“I’m really glad I was able to do something like this so early in my career. It has made me realise how much work gets put into creating a night like this, from getting approvals, designing a menu, marketing, organising props, and so on.”
THE FROG PRINCE | Felicity goodchild, chef de partie
Blood orange, peach, muscato, Baumkuchen and pistachio
“It’s one thing to create a dessert, but it’s another when it’s a part of the dessert degustation. What I got out of the dego is learning about what goes on behind the scenes in terms of organising the night, advertising, PR, plates, decoration of kitchen and ordering. It gave me the chance to create, inspire and challenge myself.”
HANSEL AND GREATEL (Take Home) | Jessica Timpano, third year apprentice
Gingerbread house and black forest macaron
“With chef Anna’s trust, belief and love the team were able to produce a magical evening. It not only allowed us to use our skills to come up with something unique, it also taught us responsibility. It gave us the confidence to go with what we all believe in as pastry chefs.”
Little red Riding Hood by Philip Khoury
Dark chocolate 70 per cent: 100g
Heat the water to 40°C and whisk in remaining ingredients and heat to 65°C. Blitz with a hand blender for one minute and store in the fridge for four hours. Blitz again before churning.
Amaretto and muscatel cream
Fresh cream (35 per cent fat): 100g
Heat the amaretto and muscatels and leave at room temp for an hour to infuse. Blitz to a very fine paste. Whisk the mascarpone and cream to soft peak and fold in the amaretto paste. Whip to a firm peak.
Icing sugar: 165g
Almond meal: 200g
Cocoa powder: 30g
Xanthan gum: 1g
Egg whites: 160g
Melted 70 per cent chocolate: 50g
Preheat oven to 190°C. Beat the eggs, icing sugar and almond meal together, then add the cocoa powder and xanthan gum and beat until thick. In a separate bowl whisk the whites and sugar until stiff and fold into the almond meal egg mixture. Fold in the melted chocolate and spread onto a silpat. Bake at 190 C for six to seven minutes. Lightly sprinkle with caster sugar to retain moisture. Once cool, break into large cake crumbs.
Almond meal: 150g
Icing sugar: 150g
Cocoa powder: 30g
Egg white: 2x60g
Blitz the almond meal, icing sugar and cocoa powder together in a food processor until fine. Prepare an Italian meringue from the sugar and one set of whites. Combine the almond meal/icing sugar mixture with the second set of whites and mix until thoroughly combined and free of lumps. Fold the Italian meringue mixture into the almond paste mixture until it flows with a lava-like consistency.
Pipe onto silmats with a 6mm plain tip into rounds with 2.5cm diameter. Leave until a skin forms before baking at 140°C for 16-20 minutes. When cool chop into 5mm chunks.
Barry Callebaut Origin Madagascar 67 percent Temper the chocolate and spread onto marble. Crystallise the chocolate by spreading it a few times or running the palette knife over it until it starts to dull. Scrape with a triangle spatula.
Chocolate dipped Almonds
Blanched whole almonds: 60g
Barry Callebaut Origin Madagascar
67 per cent: 100g
Roast the almonds in the oven at 180°C for 12 minutes. Temper chocolate and dip the cooled almonds with dipping forks. Set on a tray lined with baking paper.
Melt Isomalt in a small pan over low heat until melted. Cook to 150°C. Pour onto baking paper and leave to cool. Pulse the cold mass in a food processor until semi-fine. Use a coarse sieve to spread the Isomalt onto a silmat. Place the tray in the oven at 170°C for one minute or until the Isomalt remelts into tiny shiny lumps. Remove the silmats and place on a cool surface and scrape crystals from the silmat. Collect in an airtight container with silica beads.
[NOTE: work quickly and be careful not to leave the beads out as they’ll collect moisture very quickly.]
Butter Toffee Tuille
Sea salt: 5g
Vanilla beans (seeds scraped): 3
Intense red oil soluble colour: 2g
Place all ingredients in a large pan and cook to 160°C. Stir carefully when it starts to caramelise. Pour onto baking paper, and leave to cool. Break into large flat pieces and cover 1/5th of a silmat with pieces of toffee. Bake at 170°C for six minutes to gently remelt the toffee until soft. Place a sheet of baking paper on top and spread with a rolling pin.
Gently remove the baking paper and let cool until the toffee can be pulled. Wear latex/rubber gloves to pull the toffee and use an upturned muffin tray to mould into abstract cloak forms. Reheat in the oven for 30 seconds if the tray of toffee begins to set. Store the pulled tuille in an airtight container.