The New Bakers Dozen
Plated desssert reference

The The Bakers Dozen: Plated desssert reference
By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 11:05 am: Edit

My next class in school is plated desserts and service pastries. According to the rumor mill, the chef likes desserts with lots of height and nouvelle cuisine style architecture. Personally, I think they're pretty to look at with a nice wow effect, but I'd never order one in a restaurant.

Basically, I've got no experience in this area and I've been looking at a few different books to help me get a bit of a jump on the class. I know that Thuries has a restaurant pastries book out, and there is the Grand Finales series of 3 books. I've looked at the first Grand Finales and I find it hard to believe that a typically short-staffed pastry kitchen would be able to put these things out. Any comments on these books or others?

By Yankee on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 03:48 pm: Edit

I've worked with three chefs who have appeared in the Grand Finales series. Two have Beard awards. All their stuff is wonderful, and I learned a ton working for them. You are correct also, it takes a lot of work to get these things to the table. (Not to mention runners who know how to balance plates.) A lot of people think height and a cool tuile make the plate. Thing is, most taste like plastic because they loose focus and spend more time on looks than taste. Trotter's book is interesting, mostly for the pictures of his kitchen/pastry area. Now ask yourself how many places have a set up like that? How could you not produce amazing plates with those resources? Try and find some of Georges Blanc's or Michael Roux's books. Do more with less. Flawless perfection of the basics is your fist goal, move from there to find your own style. I thought height was out and "foaming" was the big thing now. Yuck.

By tj on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 06:15 pm: Edit

for me ,the "grand finales" books are about competition show work,and not for eating.i would never order a dessert in a restaurant that i can not or will not eat at least %95 of the plate`s content.
i want to finish my food.and not having chocolate sky scrapers and pulled sugar sticks up to my nose.cause they will not be eaten .just a weist of good ingrediants...
the roux brothers books is a good example of how to put together unique desserts that are completely edible and nonsense, no unedible components (and pulled sugar is not something i want to eat) and all the effort and imaginatoion is in the preperation of the dessert,not the decoration.

By pam on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 06:23 pm: Edit

look in books & magazines. pastry arts & design is a good mag. go to a big bookstore & look through the books. draw some examples if you want. then you can buy a book if you really need to or just write down ideas.

By Vincente on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 07:56 pm: Edit

Quick question: Is there three grand finales books out? I've only seen two, the modernism one and the art of plated dessert one.


By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 09:49 pm: Edit

A third book on neoclassic designs just came out.

By Yankee on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 10:57 pm: Edit

I have to agree with TJ here. Those plated creations are (mostly) much more fun to make than eat. I use a small amount of isomalt decoration, but I limit it to only one menu item (and keep it low so I don't blind anyone). I like to play with it and let my staff work with it too. No one really ends up eating it, but I think it's a skill you need to have. Even the Roux books cover sugar work, but I don't think any of it ends up on their plated stuff. Thing is, when we are out at a place that offers crazy plates, we always order them. Why not? See what's out there. Can't be any worse than eating a crummy brulee or "foamed" something or other.

By W.DeBord on Sunday, February 20, 2000 - 11:40 pm: Edit

Mikeh your very smart, it seems that your ready to think for your-self. Go with recipes you know are great and reshape them into a smaller more artist versions.

Look at the finales books for ideas and recipes for wild garnishes. Most of the work is too far out there to begin talking about how unrealistic they are. Bo Friebergs book still has solid ideas.

Above all at this time I love Michel Roux's book. His recipes are so smart and far more sophicated then the finales books.The wisest person I ever knew always repeated the phrase "keep it simple stupid"!

Your instructor is a fool if he values height as a important quality in plate presentation. Then b.s. him in class.

By tj on Monday, February 21, 2000 - 07:51 pm: Edit

good point.
bo`s book has some very nice plated desserts.and they are all eddible without any unwanted ingrediants.
all you have to do is just take a quick look at the cover of the new neoclassic desserts book ,and you will see for your self that large sugar bows and 2 large chocolate cigarrets on the plate will not be eaten and are there just for the show off.
no food value at all.if i want to eat good chocolate i wont eat it in a form of some rolled cigarrets on my dessert plate.same goes to food.all i want is to eat well and not play with my food and move unwanted stuff around the plate.

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - 07:03 am: Edit

I bought the 3 books two weeks ago and am very disappointed. The recipes are good, but there's no way I can present the pastries like that in the restaurant where I work. First, the wait staff would not get them "whole, undammaged" to the tables and next, I as a customer would not know how to eat them, even though I made it!
Like you guys say, it's competition work. Use the recipes which are really great with your own decorating ideas.
Good luck Mikeh

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - 08:01 am: Edit

Mikeh I hate to sound dumb but I don't know the definition of service pastries. Is that just individual pastries vs. tortes? Such as eclairs, tartlets etc...???

P.S. I hope the guy teaches you about naming and decribing your plated desserts. If you don't do that well it doesn't matter what they look or taste like, because no one will order them.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - 12:21 pm: Edit

W. DeBord,

I'm not sure if 'service pastry' is an industry term, but here is how my school defines it. Some of what we will be covering includes plated desserts, frozen desserts - bombed, parfaits, souffles, ice creams and such, as well as working with advanced presentations of non-yeasted doughs, preparing a wide variety of petit fours, dessert buffets, mirror presentations, custards, hot souffles. From your discussions on this board, it sounds like much of what you do at work.

So far the courses have been very comprehensive, so I'm sure they will cover naming the desserts. Plus, a lot of it just seems like common sense. I think this is the course where I get to run into my first big ego -- one of the chef's text books for the school is called 'Baking for the Super Intelligent'.

By d. on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - 09:24 pm: Edit

W., what is the title of Roux's books? I've read your comments that he's got great recipes and my interest is piqued. Thanks.

By W.DeBord on Tuesday, February 22, 2000 - 11:21 pm: Edit

Oh boy, it's late and the book is at work. I think it's called "Michel Rouxs' Finest Desserts". It's not fussy or overly complicated. I sub. in his recipes as components when using anyone elses recipes.

Mikeh that's alot to learn in one class. What is that title suposed to mean????

By Yankee on Wednesday, February 23, 2000 - 01:49 am: Edit

Roux has a few books out. The one before "Finest Desserts" was "The Roux Brothers on Patisserie." Most of it is duplicated in the second book, but you really have to check out the family photo on the back cover. Roux also has a savory or sauce book out there too. I've got to find this "Super Intellegent" book! Sounds like a scream. What's your chef's name? You also might want to figure out what you are actually paying per hour to be in class. I did, and it killed me to have to sit through some of it. Remember, you are paying these folks. Work them for everything, and if you are not happy with something, get on them about it. It will all cost you the same in the end. What's important is what YOU end up with.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Wednesday, February 23, 2000 - 02:16 am: Edit

It is a ton of information to cover in 7 weeks. Right now I'm doing breads and doughs and we cover an area of breads every week; last week was direct method lean doughs, this week is rich doughs, coming up are pre-fermented, naturally leavened, laminated, chemically leavened and pie and tart dough weeks. Every day we each help to produce either 50 baguettes and 50 levain breads for service, plus about 4 types of bread in the individual category. This means we each bake 70-80 varieties of bread, but only a few loaves of each. They could rename the 30 week program to Introduction to B&P and it would be more accurate.

I'm still quite happy to be taking it as it gives me a chance to get a foundation in everything from experts. I also grill my instructors every opportunity I get. I heard today that this next guy, Chef Nicholas something, doesn't like to be asked questions. I think I mentioned I used to be in business, so believe me that I've figured out exactly how much I'm paying him to answer every question I can come up with :)

By Yankee on Wednesday, February 23, 2000 - 01:03 pm: Edit

Any teacher who does not like to be asked questions should be burned at the stake. I think what's tough about school is that you get to do so many things so quickly, yet learning repetition (day in, day out consistency) is so critical. I did the culinary program, not the baking program, so I was basically clueless beyond what I picked up in three weeks of bread and three weeks of basic pastry, plus other projects around school. School is what you make of it, so I am glad to hear that chef Ego has a buzz saw waiting for him.

By makubo on Monday, February 28, 2000 - 04:55 pm: Edit

I totally agree with tj, I you ever had a lawsuit brought against your company because of the bodily harm inflicted on a customer with a piece of sharp edged isomalt?(Which tastes like what?)
Pastry Art & Design had in it's latest edition 3 consecutive dessert presentations, each with the same silly caramel thing sticking out of it. And I would bet anything that they do not serve it like that in their restaurants. About as original as an extra gherkin on your burger!

By tj on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 02:55 pm: Edit

very funny makubo :-)
your right .this trend does not want to come to an end ,maybe its all because of magazins like pastry arts.they keep shoving it down the throuts of customers and create the artificial need for such plates...
by the way, about cuting a customer with isomalt,
i heared once that in the movies, they mold all the "glass" windows/bottles/cups etc to be broken ,out of sugar! any one knows if this is true?

By momoreg on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 03:24 pm: Edit

Why would they do that? It cuts just like glass.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 04:50 pm: Edit

I asked my friend who works in film, and he says that sometimes they use 'candy glass' which is essentially molded sugar, and sometimes they use tempered glass which breaks into cubes instead of shards, just like a windshield. Also, a small explosive charge usually breaks the glass just before the stuntman hits it.

I'm not sure about bottles and cups and stuff, but it is a great idea.

By tj on Tuesday, February 29, 2000 - 10:00 pm: Edit

i wonder how they make this candy glass...
it should hold up quite well during shooting scenes and all that...
i wish i could see the recipe and prossess for this kind of work..

By Doucefrance (Doucefrance) on Wednesday, March 01, 2000 - 05:25 pm: Edit

I know a pastry chef in Nice who used to make these sugar windows, glasses, bottles, etc, for the VICTORINE film studios. His name is Gino BASTARDI. I saw quite a few pictures of his work, he was amazing, and a nice guy too.
Even if sugar can cut like glass, you don't have to make as thick, and it is still less dangerous than glass.

By Panini (Panini) on Wednesday, March 01, 2000 - 06:22 pm: Edit

Going back a few years! Set bottles were made out of molded sugar and painted. Its made the same way you make Easter eggs. Its a pressed sugar. It is not sharp and crumbles in your hand.They may have gone to blown sugar or something else in the 80's but they were pressed in the 70's. I actually had the pleasure of getting one over the head. Did tingle a bit.

By tj on Wednesday, March 01, 2000 - 10:57 pm: Edit

if the sugar is pressed, how does it remain transparant like glass?
for molding , its probably just like poured sugar, but when its pressed ,wont they use granulated sugar and water?
any way , the main thing that i want to know is how they manage to keep sugar windows or what ever from humidity and heat,and all other outdoor problems that effect sugar,over a period of time?
or maybe they just put them on for one quick shot and shoot the scene in a few minutes?

By Panini (Panini) on Thursday, March 02, 2000 - 06:07 pm: Edit

the bottles I've seen were painted and shellaced.
I have to believe that they use things other than sugar now a days, with all the petroleum based and resin products. I've done some food styling recently an was amazed! All the different food and garnishes made out of lexean,resins,etc.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Friday, March 03, 2000 - 01:53 am: Edit

A friend of mine is a photographer who has done some work with food stylists, and she said that the food being advertised has to be real. Nothing prevents browning a raw turkey and cooking the slices with a heat gun, but you can't serve gelatin balls in place of ice cream. Are the laws different outside of California or is she mistaken?

By Panini (Panini) on Friday, March 03, 2000 - 05:27 pm: Edit

I think advertising branded products is different than what I was doing. I have styled general seasonal food for newspapers. Thanksgining inserts with recipes. x-mas inserts etc. We used colored shortening for background ice cream shots. We did torch the turkeys but used fake grapes and fruits in the shots. I don't know, good question.
I have'nt food styled but modeled some catalog shots and I remember having to use the real products. Don't laugh, they wanted an overweight chef in uniform.$200 hr.not bad!

By W.DeBord on Saturday, March 04, 2000 - 07:48 am: Edit

I did a photo shoot styling steaks for Eagle grocery store and they use only real product FROM their store. For instance the meat we picked up from their butcher at the store. Maybe it was a thicker slice than you'd see at the store but it wasen't really a better cut then they would regularly sell. Nothing fake in the shot, it was in Iowa.

I also used to cater for The National Meat Council downtown Chicago. They were always finishing a photo shoot at the time we would come. Everything I saw was real and they were OVER THE EDGE into perfect, farther than I've ever seen perfection taken. They had stylists working day in and day out perfecting how to make items look great with all natural "tricks", using coloring a bit different...for the camera.

P.S. They have too much money in that organization.

By Mikeh (Mikeh) on Saturday, March 04, 2000 - 11:58 am: Edit

I used to get down on myself because I couldn't make my products look as pretty as the pictures in the book. Then my friend told me about a shoot she did for Casa de Fruita, a fruit and nut seller in California. They started with twelve boxes of a dozen fruit tarts each. The food stylist picked the best tart from each of the boxes, lined up the twelve candidates, and then picked the best from that.

By tj on Saturday, March 04, 2000 - 04:33 pm: Edit

from what i have seen , the grand masters of fake food items for display are in japan. they have shops that are just for fake food products.incredible details and colors. i never got the idea of having such stores in the big cities over there, and have no idea why would anyone other than food shops would need such stors, but there are alot of them.i even brought back with me a catalog from one of them with 4000 fake items ,anything from fake sushi to carved hams, to cakes and dessert.another interesting thing i found out in japan ,was that they all want to have fake wedding cakes in the actual wedding,instead of a real cake,and the catering places have a few models to choose from in storage .very strange people...

By W.DeBord on Thursday, March 09, 2000 - 07:45 am: Edit

I saw a article on tv along time ago that showed how the Japanese had made making fake food into a art. It wasen't for photo shots and I'm not sure that they were even trying to pretend the food was real. But I can't remember why they were so into that, can you explain tj?

By Morgane on Thursday, March 09, 2000 - 11:14 am: Edit

It's to display in the window of their restaurants. That way people know what they serve. Plus it is very useful for tourists. All youhave to do is point at the dish you want.


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