Culinary School Here I Come (74) Sugar Decor & A Job


This blog is going to be quick. If you haven’t heard yet, I’m working…at least for a week. No longer am I giving myself away for free like a cheap whore, I’m charging! There’s a huge convention in town and I’m taking advantage of it…you’ll see. But first, sugar decor.

Pulled sugar, add color at 300 degrees and heat to 360 degrees. Don’t forget so sanitize…I mean satinize.

I say sugar, but in Hawaii we use Isomalt. If you recall from a few blogs ago, Isomalt is a type of sugar alcohol typically used for it’s sugar properties. Hawaii is not the ideal location for a sugar artist. Sugar is hydroscopic and sucks up any available moisture. Hawaii is very humid so what is the next option? Isomalt. It doesn’t attract as much moisture but isn’t as shiny as sugar.

The “sugar” has to cool slightly before the kneading process. The edges are turned back until the sugar can be removed from the Silpat and worked.

The pulling process is similar to taffy. This is called satinizing. The pulling produces tiny air bubbles hence changing the color slightly.

I asked my classmates to “work it” for the camera and work it they did.

After a demo on ribbon pulling we were left to pull our own ribbon. It’s not as easy as it seems. You take several sausage shaped pieces of sugar, attach, pull, clip in half, attach, pull and you got a ribbon. Easier said than done. Sometimes the different sugars are of a different texture and pliability. It makes pulling an even ribbon difficult. As evidenced by..

..my sad, sad ribbon. Did I say I hate sugar decor?

When you are working on ribbons or other decor, you work in a sugar box. The heat lamp keeps the sugar warm and pliable, sometimes too warm and too pliable. I had better luck making a sugar flower.

We also completed our sugar showpiece. We poured some cast sugar pieces to add to the pressed sugar base and pastillage.

We used some cool textural pad for some dimension on our base. Also, when working with molten hot sugar, be careful. A little bit can hurt a lot and cause a very large blister. A problem when one is located on your writing hand.

Cake rings are used as forms for the base. Now, the construction begins.

It turned out okay. This was a group effort so we sometimes don’t get our way. My vision of this piece called for the tendril pieces to be more vertical and not all along the back. Glad it’s over.

Our Valentines Day sugar showpieces.

A benefit of being in purchasing class is that we get to look at new and unusual product. This one was pretty disturbing.

Not often does a whole pig show up at our doorstep. But when one does, we get to see it. An instructor was doing a butchering demo and he ordered one.

Back in Garde Manger, I’m not a student but a fellow. We are helping the chef to create an appetizer for an upcoming event. We are doing Chips and Salsa but the catch is that all the components are not in the usual form. We were experimenting on the tomato part of the salsa. We decided to sphere tomato water.

We took ripe tomatoes, pureed it then strained it through layers of cheesecloth then a coffee filter. We were hoping for clear liquid but it was slightly tinted red. We added xantham gum to thicken the liquid and calcium lactate as one of the component in the spherification process. Next, calcium alginate and water is blended and used as a water bath. The calcium alginate reacts with the calcium lactate and forms a gel-like shell. We piped the tomato water mixture into small silicone molds then blast chilled them. Once frozen, we dropped them into the bath and within a few minutes, spheres of fresh tasting tomato water.

We’ll be working on the other aspects next time.

Did I say I was working. Well, I got a gig at the Grand Wailea Resort. It’s one of the biggest, if not the biggest on the island. The gig is for a week so I’m going to have to do some fancy footwork to coordinate this with school. I’m kind of a floater where I get put at various stations. I was assigned to banquets on my first day. I prepped for a 200 person omelet station. Ham, green pepper, tomatoes, etc. I discovered a handy dicing device. It takes a whole side of a pepper and in a second, completely dices it. As it does sliced tomatoes. After a day of school and 8 hours of work, I was beat and had a huge headache and worst of all, I forgot my camera. Not again. Saturday was different.

The day started out at 9 where I was assigned to help assemble “take out” sandwiches.

At 11:30 is was reassigned to the Garde Manger department where I spent the rest of my shift slicing and chopping. Cherry tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms & lemons. Then I was asked to slice 2 cases of cherry tomatoes on a tomato slicer. It’s a very, very sharp mandoline like contraption. It did do a quick job of it but not without slicing a finger. The garde manger department puts out a lot of product. For example, the tomatoes that I sliced were paired with lettuce leaves. We assembled 18 bowls of 120 pieces of lettuce & tomatoes that are being served on 2000 sliders.

Another group worked on Fruit & Cheese plates. Do the math, 18 plates per tray, 3 trays per shelf, 5 shelves per cart all on 3 carts = 810 plates. Yikes!

80 gallons of veal stock simmering for 2 days. Behind that is a 60 and 40 gallon kettle. They’re not kidding there. I’ve decided that I want to be a saucier. It’s the only person who uses other people’s scraps to create such wonderful flavors. In that kettle are my mushroom stems, tomato scraps and green onion scraps. I’d love to taste what this will eventually become.

Tomorrow night is a big event where we all will be working on action stations. It should be pretty fun. The group that this function is for is dropping a lot of money for lodging, food and entertainment. Neil Diamond is scheduled to perform. I hope I’ll be able to smuggle my camera with me so I can take you with me on this journey. Also, next week in Advanced Baking, we will begin working on frozen desserts, yippee!

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About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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2 Responses to Culinary School Here I Come (74) Sugar Decor & A Job

  1. steveaw says:

    WOW! from purple gloves to “sugar” flowers & ribbons, a pigs head 2 frozen tomato balls…4 a “quick” entry you’ve covered a lot of ground! now…get 2 work! (great job btw)

  2. tinfoilduck says:

    Thanks for reading. Yes, these blogs parallel my life; vast and sometimes pointless! Keep reading.

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