I’m playing a little catch up here. I’ve been taking the pastry course for a few weeks now, but decided only recently to blog about the experience. I want to give the backstory before I move on:
I have no formal training in cooking or baking. I differentiate the two because I consider these to be two very different skills. And to wit: there are chefs and there are pastry chefs. While I consider myself a fairly accomplished cook through years of self-learning, baking intimidates me. Baking, specifically pastry, eludes me and is missing from my kitchen repertoire. It was high time to get over the fear and add some pastry to my bag of tricks.
The course I’m enrolled in takes place at L’Academie de Cuisine, a professional cooking school in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I live in Arlington, Virginia. Why, why, why Gaithersburg of all places? If you are familiar with the D.C. metro area, you may be thinking this same thing, envisioning the traffic I endure on a weekly basis to get to a class that starts at 6:30 p.m. Right in the middle of rush hour…to go to Gaithersburg…from Arlington. However, this is really the only professional cooking school in the area with a class of this caliber, so c’est la vie!
The course is taught by Chef Mark Ramsdell who worked formerly for many years as a pastry chef at the White House (as in where our presidents live). There are 16 students in my class, including me, and it’s only women. And a male instructor. I’m not sure what to make of these demographics, but perhaps a future post on sexism in the pastry world? Although, most of the great French (and other) pastry chefs are men. So why are there only women in my class? Hmmm. I need to think about this.
Continuing on, the course objectives as outlined on the first day of class are: Basic Doughs and Preparations; Basic Techniques; and Classic Applications. I could also tell you the specific topics I’ll be learning, but I’m not going to do that. That’s what each post will be about – what I’ve learned each week and my homework efforts.
I think that’s it for the backstory. The stage is set.