The New Bakers Dozen
I need to vent my anger or I'll EXPLODE!

The The Bakers Dozen: I need to vent my anger or I'll EXPLODE!
By W.DeBord on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 01:50 pm: Edit

I posted the listing looking for ideas for a spectacular New Years Eve dessert. Last week chef met with client to discuss dinner menu. After his meeting which was supposed to be just about dinner he came back into the kitchen to tell me the lady is leaving dessert up to me to come up with something grand. At that time he says "hey why don't you make those chocolate molton cakes" then I proceed to explain why that wouldn't fit the bill.

A. It has about a 50% failure rate unmolding it on the plate.
B. It doesn't have the height she wanted.
C.We don't have the oven space for me to bake it last minute so the center may set-up in the hours it will sit before serving.

By W.DeBord on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 01:59 pm: Edit

He calls me on my day off to anounce to me the lady desided on molton cakes with a scoop of icecream. She would like year 2000 written on the dessert. I told him it would be too late to order transfer sheets with the New Year theme. He said "you can just write it on a piece of chocolate and stick on the cake", I say "well that will spill the center if I poke something into it", he says "oh put whip cream on top of the cake and stick it in that".

I spent countless hours looking thru books for something to fit the bill of spectacular. He obviously mentioned this item to the lady when she met with him last week because this is not a dessert we have ever done pass plate. I want to scream sooooo loud it makes me ill thinking about this poor choice of a dessert!!!!!!!!

So I just make this child like dessert knowing half of them will have the chocolate centers spilled with a blob of whip cream floating in it with my hand writen 2000 on it's back. Left alone to look like an idiot.

By d. on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 03:26 pm: Edit

You are not alone. Some of the catering managers pull stunts like this on me too. How many plates do you have to do? Can you get transfer sheets FedEx'ed to you by Wed? Or start making some sort of cookie or chocolate shard, paint it with some gold dust(mixed with a little vodka or rum) and do the 2000 at one end. You can maybe stick this into the icecream scoop(or the cake?). Or what about pulling couple of berries through a skewer, stick a little "2000" plaquette of the top and then stick the whole thing into the cake. Hope this helps somewhat.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 03:48 pm: Edit

It sounds to me the Chef said HE had this wonderful dessert HE has done in the past.
Sorry to hear about, it really stinks when you know something is not going to work,it sounds like you can not sit down and rationally discuss
this with him.
There are plenty of stencils out there with
2000. d has a good suggestion, I would replace the skewer with a chocolate or some type of edible
Let us know what you are thinking!

By momoreg on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 04:51 pm: Edit

Canyou play around with a molten cake that can be unmolded ahead of time, so that all you have to do is heat them and serve? The one I make is just a really rich chocolate cake with a big block of good couverture in the middle. After the initial bake and cool, I freeze them, then unmold them individually with a torch. The finish is smooth, and it has a 99% success rate.

By momoreg on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 04:54 pm: Edit

The 2000 logo doesn't necessarily have to go into the cake, does it? Can you make a 2000 stencil, and spread some hippen over it, then balance it on the side of the cake? Then you will have the height without puncturing the cake.

By momoreg on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 04:57 pm: Edit

Hey, and I was just thinking, you can make that 2000 tuile, the wrap it diagonally up a thin rolling pin, for a barber-pole kind of effect, then place it on top of your cake. Sounds like a funky idea. I had so many great 2000 ideas, and we only have one New Years party. Oh well, maybe next millennium...

By Morgane on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 05:22 pm: Edit

When I hear story like this I am glad to be my own boss. Too bad you can't tell your chef to make his own dessert and walk out....

On a more serious note can't you say you already had done some purchasing or preparation for another dessert as per the discussion you previously had?

If you are stuck with molten chocolate cake why not play with the name and find a recipe that can be done in advance or serve them unmolded with the cup on the plate and ice cream on the side with sauce.

You could check pastry supply store some sell little plaque with different saying. Not the best of look but if you're stuck you're stuck.

Good Luck


By W.DeBord on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 06:44 pm: Edit

I don't go back to work until wed.(it will be a very buzy day) and apart of me doesn't care to get the transfer sheets anyway. It's like... the chef (p.s. the manager was also at the meeting and kept her mouth shut)thinks his dessert fit's the bill as he sold it so why should I do anything other than exactly what he sold.

If you are going to close me out of the process behind my back than all I am is the means to making what you say. That position doesn't require the "extra" effort I give daily.

By Panini (Panini) on Monday, December 27, 1999 - 08:55 pm: Edit

Don't lose sight of the big picture, being a support system you hardly win in the back of the house, but you can sure win in the front of the house with your customers!
I have a feeling the "extra" effort you give daily is something you probably do for your customers and not you manager or chef.
Maybe you can reenforce you theme with a pastry centerpiece instead of the norm.
You sound more sad being left out of the process than upset. Maybe it is time to start that business plan.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 10:45 am: Edit

Work doesn't make any sense to me. The manager loves me, even her husband has told me she'd do anything for me. The 75% of the members appreciate my work and praise me every time I step out front. The other 25% don't know or eat pastries. The manager has had members tell her she better not loss me (they go through pastry chef often). She comforts my frustations yet does nothing to eliminate them even after I told her what goes on.

They have a pastry chef because our chef doesn't know the first thing about desserts and the people want top notch food. They pay me well for my expertise! Why would the manager allow him to make a dessert selections NOW when he has never had one word of input before? I'm always allowed to choose my desserts(when the customer doesn't have a preference), they prefer this because I always come up with better menu ideas than them(management) and it saves them effort.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 10:48 am: Edit

Chef is threated my my abilities. Everyone at work knows this and we all make efforts to praise, comfort and show him he's the boss. He seems to delibrately try to dominate me and tone down my work. I'm not speculating on this, the sou chef tells me this. I just get sick of his petty insecurities.

It's a power struggle over my work. I just don't understand why he needs to do that? This happened to me before years ago at another club. It makes me feel like a failure, that I can't get along with others.

I don't want to own my own business. I've been there and I like a regular paycheck.


By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 12:01 pm: Edit

Yes you are trapped! This is unfortunate.I have only worked with two chefs that really respected my work and experience. One gave me total creative control as long as I made him look good, and the other really respected the fact that I was capable of doing something he had not been trained in so we worked together on a lot of projects.
Most of the others we as you describe.It dosen't get any better with age, my last five positions in the industry before I left were Exec. Pastry. The worst was some young whipper-snapper with a Fordham Food degree telling me to try things that I know would fail!!!
Don't ever feel like you are a failure.In your position whose failing? Chef? Its the same old politics!

By MarkG on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 01:35 pm: Edit

Why not stencil a "2000" in cocoa powder on each plate? Also, make "Y2K" letters out of marzipan, etc. to use on the plate.

Re: your boss' desserts, put together a list of desserts that YOU want to make with costs included and give it to him for use in the future. I'd even go so far as to take photos of them to help in "his" presentation to potential clients. Sorry about working for jerks. It doesn't have to be thaway but some people feel differently.


By momoreg on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 05:55 pm: Edit

Forgive me, Panini, but I don't think W. is trapped. She either has to figure out a way of communicating better with the chef, or better yet, the people who are on her side, so that they can make her job easier and more tolerable with the chef. From a woman's point of view, it wouldn't hurt if they had more women in that place, but I know that's in management's hands. Perhaps they can consider a woman next time they hire, to balance things out there. It sounds like W. feels a bit outnumbered there.

By Panini (Panini) on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 06:18 pm: Edit

I was under the impression that the manager was a women. I don't know if this is a gender problem, I myself and I know of many others that have found themselves in the same position. I agree, communication is the key to sucess. and yes, I think she is probably out numbered, but unfortunatly that is usually the norm. You know when you are a creative person and you really take pride in whatr you are doing, you really take everything personal.THAT HURTS!
I have found in business that you hire people that are experienced in what they do,let them perform and take their advice. In thew chef world the politics and insecurities get in thee wat of that.
I don't know, just thoughts.
No forgivness here! I appreciate your thoughts!
I have no problems being corrected even though I'm a male. That is how we learn.
gotta go

By momoreg on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 06:45 pm: Edit

True, it IS the norm for men to outnumber women in this bsiness, and luckilly, that's never been a problem for me. I've only worked in a couple of really macho kitchens, and I knew I didn't fit in, even tough I'm kind of a tough. I prfer working with both men and women in the kitchen.

By d. on Tuesday, December 28, 1999 - 07:12 pm: Edit

Hang in there...When something like this happens to me, after my anger and expletives have been uttered(and a couple of kicks to the trash can!), I just focus on getting the items done to the best of my ability. My effort and hard work are for the clients, not for the sales manager or the chef who screwed me. I'll admit, I've been tempted to just do a mediocre job on the dessert to teach the sales manager(or chef) a lesson; but I can't. It wouldn't feel right, it would reflect badly on my work,and my integrity is just too damn strong. Dealing with challenges is part of our work(but don't count dealing with immature, egocentric, frou-frou chefs) and in the long run we come out tired but wiser. Just try and do the best you can, and have a very serious talk with the chef(preferably with the manager present) after things settle down.

By Melinda on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 12:50 am: Edit

This probably offers no comfort but consider this. d. is right when he/she says that we are doing this for the clients. Not ourselves or our egos, or our chefs and their egos, or our owners and their egos. The average consumer loves a chocolate molton cake. And I can't lie, I do to. I used to eat one for breakfast when I used to work where we made them. Consider the fact that it is going to be one of the last things they see on New Years eve. After a few $150.00 bottles of Champagne and then some. And there's always the fact that January first is a great day tomake resolutions like " I will not let that happen again"
Good Luck, Happy? New Year to all.

By Melinda on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 12:52 am: Edit

This probably offers no comfort but consider this. d. is right when he/she says that we are doing this for the clients. Not ourselves or our egos, or our chefs and their egos, or our owners and their egos. The average consumer loves a chocolate molton cake. And I can't lie, I do to. I used to eat one for breakfast when I used to work where we made them. Consider the fact that it is going to be one of the last things they see on New Years eve. (After a few $150.00 bottles of Champagne and then some.) And there's always the fact that January first is a great day to make resolutions like " I will not let THAT happen again"

Good Luck, Happy? New Year to all.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 09:02 am: Edit

I'd love to talk with chef and work together. It will never happen. There is no reason for him to want to get along with any pastry chef on his turf. English is NEVER spoken unless they feel like including me (which is rare). All day and night can go by with-out anyone exchanging small talk with me. All the guys are related to make it worse. He will never hire another english speaking person. I'm there because I work COMPLETELY independent of them.

Plus, the chef has "shortman syndrome" (he's 5'2" with platform lifts in his shoes). Laugh at me all you want but it effects how he leads. I always try to lean over on the tables to be at eye level with him when he talks to me. Naturally I'm on the tall side 5'9" and being the only American everyone who enters the kitchen addresses me as though I was the chef.

Chef is extremely hostal to Grounds Keeper and Golf Pro too. It's not just me. So I can't take it too personal he doesn't like anyone who's not related to him.

By W.DeBord on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 09:20 am: Edit

Management has a LARGE list of desserts I gave them. I bring them samples when ever I have a nice new dessert to "sell them". I've also had a LONG talk with manager(in July)to explain how things are and why they keep losing pastry chefs. She said she would try to think of a way to make things better for me in the kitchen, but nothing ever came of it.

I don't think she really cares or she's scared to rock the boat with the chef. So there doesn't appear to be any thing else I can do to work things out at this job.

I may do things for the customers but I don't interact with them daily. It's just not enough to continue in an unfriendly place.

I've always wanted to live in Colorado(love skiing). Anyone know where a good job is there?

By Melinda on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 10:33 am: Edit

Yes, avtually, I lived in Colorado. I miss it every day I'm away.
May I recommend Boulder? It's far enough from Denver to feel like you are near the mountains(25 minutes), but close enough that the rich city folk are trying out the excellent restaurants there. Great oppurtunity for exposure, even a small cooking school that may let you teach a few classes if your really good.
Don't go to Aspen, noone there can afford to live, although there is an incredible shortage of qualified pastry chefs there as well.
Steamboat is opening a huge resort in 2000. Give a call, the shortage goes on there too.
No matter what you do, wherever you go, when you start feeling like you are in anunhealthy situation...get out of it. We need you in this field to carry on with professionalism, more than this little chef guy needs you in his maniacal kitchen. I doubt anyone here would blame you.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 08:47 pm: Edit

I don't know if you still need ideas to make your molten choc cake work, but I have a few...
Ours is made entirely ahead, held chilled, heated in the microwave for service. Works great. I'll try to post the recipe later tonight. As for your garnish, I am doing one that will stand up on the plate - piped choc. tuille batter "2000", cooled on a rolling pin for shape. It will be right next to an oval shaped tart.

I'm sorry to hear your situation has become so unbearable. I understand how it is to deal with owners/managers who haven't got a clue. One thing I would encourage you to do before you leave is to assert your power to the fullest. I think sometimes we women don't use all the power we have. You are obviously smarter than this little Napoleon you have to work in the same kitchen with, use those smarts to get the upper hand with management.

When I was just starting out in the corporate world years ago,an uncle gave me a piece of advice that made a big difference. He said you've got to tell them exactly what you want - raise, promotion, training, whatever. If you don't say it out loud, or put it on paper they will never know. I had spent my first couple years on the job expecting to get what I deserved just cuz I deserved it. It sounds almost ridiculously obvious, but I've met so many people who made the same mistake I did.

What would have to change to make the situation workable for you? even if you think they'd never go for it, you really never know until you lay it on the line. How about reminding management just how valuable you are to them and insisting on reporting directly to the manager? You need to change your situation somehow; leaving may turn out to be the only way, but won't you feel better about the whole experience if you are sure you explored every option?

Good Luck, R.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 09:36 pm: Edit

I must agree. Let them know where they stand, not where they think you stand.You will probably feel better.
Is your club privately owned or run by a management outfit. I don't know if you know of Club Corporation of America, they are stationed right here.They manage clubs all over the US.
If you like I can give you the address and a contact.
New Mexico is pretty nice to. Skiing.

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 09:47 pm: Edit

Here's that recipe:
Bittersweet Choc 2# 14 oz.
Unsalted Butter 3# 2 oz.
Powdered Sugar 2# 4 oz.
Cake Flour 1# 6 oz.
Eggs, warm 28
Yolks, warm 28
Vanilla 2 oz.

Melt choc and butter together. whisk in powdered sugar, then cake flour. stir in eggs and yolks, then vanilla. Portion into sprayed pans (I do 4 1/2 oz.) or ramekins, chill thoroughly til set. Bake @ 375F for 18-22 minutes (depending on type of pan) til set around the edges and just begining to glaze over on top. Make sure they get enough bottom heat. Chill again til set. Remove from pans, store covered tightly. To serve, heat each 15 to 30 seconds til you can feel that the center is soft and the outside is warm.

By d. on Wednesday, December 29, 1999 - 11:49 pm: Edit

I used to do a warm choc. cake when I was working in a restaurant. I used to portion the batter into regular sized greased muffin tins, bake and cool. I'd stick a cold ball of ganache in the center of the cooled cake. At time of service, it was nuked for a couple of seconds to warm it up and the ganache would melt into this warm puddle of fudge in the center.
W., let us know how it comes out and good luck.

By W.DeBord on Thursday, December 30, 1999 - 09:32 am: Edit

I will bake them at the last second so they are hot as it was sold to the customer. I'll let the chef unmold them and the guys plate things then I'll garnish.

The number of 150 is the biggest problem. It's far more demanding than doing souffles for that number. I have to make them in soup cups (too large)I don't have anything else in that quanitity. They want icecream with it, plus they want a spectacular 2000 garnish coming up from the plate.

I'm thinking of doing a tuile with 2000 baked in it. Large traingle wrapped standing around cake so cake is in center. Or I'll make it like a banner and place it leaning at the base of cake. I've been trying different recipes but as of yet haven't found the perfect one for the situation. Thanks R. I'll try yours today.

P.S. Did a dessert last night that blew them away. Got called out to party for compliments. That's the best revenge with chef... rise to the bait and leave him in my dust.

By momoreg on Thursday, December 30, 1999 - 04:54 pm: Edit

Good for you! Keep up the great work, and don't mind anyone who tries to trip you up.

By W.DEBord on Friday, December 31, 1999 - 09:23 am: Edit

Ramodeo I LOVE YOUR RECIPE!!!!!!!!! I could not thank-you enough if I wrote it a hundred times! Oh my, what an incredible difference there is from one recipe to another. I made two recipes from the chocolate Spago book, one from Martha Stewart, one from Great Chefs book looking for a good molton cake. The one posted above is soooo perfect it's unbelievable!

I played with each recipe to find the best baking time, how long they held, how they released etc... Ramodeo your recipe is indestructable, holds for ever, the easiest, has the best center run-out etc....

I am truely most grateful that you took the time to write and offer me your recipe! THANK-YOU!

By W.DeBord on Sunday, January 02, 2000 - 08:28 am: Edit

Ramodeo I hope you don't mind me asking, but where did you come across that recipe? Or did you develop it your-self?

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Sunday, January 02, 2000 - 08:52 am: Edit

This is weird, I just posted a message that must have gotten lost.

I'm so glad it worked out for you! How did you end up putting it together for the dessert?

In that lost message I was trying to remember where I originally got the recipe. I thought it was on the net, but I couldn't find it when I went looking yesterday. I may have gotten it from a magazine, but i'm sure it eas from a well known restaurant/chef. I have changed it a bit, it was way too sweet with the chocolate I was using so I cut way back on the powdered sugar. I also found that the normal rather low quality uns. butter we have for the restaurant doesn't work well (I think it has way too much milk solids - it actually makes the cakes lighter in color and milkier tasting) and I only use Plugra in it.

So glad I could help! R.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, January 02, 2000 - 06:10 pm: Edit

I made my 2000 signs out of choc. choux paste kind of a graphic approach on a diagonal (xxxsugar dusted on top to highlight). I put the icecream on top of the cake and sat the 2000 on icecream. I fried chinesse rice noodles (the kind that puff and curl) then using colored xxxsugar green, red and yellow I heavily dusted them so the color adheared to the noodles (they looked cool).
Cake was tall with garnishes, then surrounded with a confetti of chopped fruit and bright colored noodles. The colored noodles weren't assorted on each plate, each plate had only one color so when set on table you had a different color than your neighboor.

It would have been a disaster with-out your recipe! Thanks again!

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