Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Culinary IQ: Wednesday, January 25, 2012; Baking Assessments

The Pressure is On!

I have a couple of things to discuss today. One is the process of applying for a job once you have completed your culinary education. The second is a stellar example of customer service I want to call out.

I completed my program at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Pasadena mid-December. I immediately started looking for opportunities to utilize my new education. With the holidays nearing I didn't feel too much dismay when the responses failed to come in. I continued to apply for positions that I thought would be interesting, trying not to jump at every opportunity out there if it wasn't something I could see my self enjoying. I am happy to say in the last few weeks I have started getting responses! 

So starts the process that most in the culinary world are familiar with. First you have a personal interview with the chef, then you have to perform! In my case it is baking assessments. You are asked to come into a strange kitchen with some recipes you would like to make that demonstrate your abilities. You are assured that they have a well stocked kitchen and should have most of the ingredients you need, but if you are going to need an unusual ingredient you should bring it in yourself. So you pick out your recipes and then you start worrying that they won't actually have the ingredients you need. Should you bring in every ingredient? Should you bring in everything you need? Then you get into the kitchen which you have never worked in before and have to use ovens and equipment that you have never used before. Fortunately, usually everyone is extremely helpful. So off you go to do your best.

For my last assessment I picked two recipes, one that I could make with my hands tied behind my back with a blindfold on, the other one pushed me out of my comfort zone. Wouldn't you know it, the one that I could make standing on my head didn't come out right and the one that pushed me, shined!

So then you wait. Are they assessing other bakers, were they not pleased with your product or work habits? Hopefully you don't have to wait too long to hear your fate. In the meantime you keep looking for new opportunities to prove yourself and land the job. This is not a numbers game however, when you find a match for your talents you get the job! The process can cause a little anxiety. Don't let it get to you, keep plugging along. 

To be continued....

Customer Service!

Last week I told you about my experience trying to make marshmallows using alcohol to flavor them. If you don't remember, the result would give Kevlar bullet-proof jackets a run for their money!

When I was in my cake formula class the chef had introduced us to some very concentrated extracts from Amoretti. I remembered that they had extracts for some of the alcohols that I was trying to use so I called them.

They graciously asked me what extracts that I would like to try and sent generous samples of each out for me to try. It is always a pleasant surprise to get this kind of customer service! Please use them.

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