Dan Barber wrote in his book “The third plate” his experience in Chez Panisse about Pastry Serving a simple peach as dessert. „I Gasped because it was so crazy. It was a Single Peach on a Dessert plate, no sprig of mint, no swish of raspberry sauce. It was Peach unadorned. …it was the best peach of my life…“
The concept of this single peach on the plate is simple yet difficult to understand. …Massumotos peaches were incredibly delicious“ A Dessert served as simple as a perfect fruit on a plate, with nothing more than that.
This lesson must be learned. Sometimes a peach is better than a thoroughly styled dessert, sometimes a peach is just a peach.
As I have a bit of time on my hands, due the delay in the building of the restaurant I am going to work in, I went a bit on stages ( meaning, I work for free, while getting experience in specialized kitchens) and one stop was: Paul A. Young In Soho.
Paul A. Young
Paul A. Young a cool guy, started single handed on his own with help from family and friends producing handmade artisan chocolates 10 Years ago. 9 Years now his shops are open now and he is holding 35 employees.
Flavour in every truffle can be found here, “no fuzz” he said “my costumers love simple but perfect flavours”. Through my week working here I have eaten me through almost the whole assortment of chocolates truffles and incredible simple yet delicious flavours.
But back to beginning.
It is 7:45 Tuesday morning as I am waiting in front of his store in wardour street, waiting a bit nervously to meet Paul, Paul, Themina and Cesar.
Cesar was the first to arrive, a Brazilian guy speaking 3 languages fluent, seeming firm. Introduce myself and we went into the kitchen, through the store, going downstairs into the holy halls were the chocolates are made. Five Large Tables with marble slaps on them waiting to be used for tempering.
Getting dressed in what now came to my mind a wrong decision chef whites……. Everyone else was wearing black chef jackets….. yeah I regret not having bought black chef whites….. that is what the aprons are for right?
I had a couple minutes to look around the kitchen while the others are getting changed. Three bain maries (warm water baths) filled with containers of chocolate from last night to let them melt slowly.
A whiteboard on the wall indicates the thinking and developing progress and suggestions from everysingle one in the kitchen. Ideas for the summer range of chocolates can be found here. Whatever makes it to the store depends on the taste if it is perfect enough for Paul.
NO Microwave in sight!!!!!!! Thermometers are quite rare here.
Paul expects his chocolatiers to temper with their eyes and feeling. It not only adds more speed into the production, it makes you independent of machines. Machines can fail, thermometers can show wrong temperatures, microwaves break.
And he said : “Tempering only with your eyes helps you temper every chocolate perfectly, because every chocolate crystallizes differently but will look the same while crystallizing.”
Every chocolate has different attributes that tempers them. The big chocolate producers write on their bags the perfect tempering curve.
But if temper without a thermometer, you have to see when the chocolate is crystallizing. during tabling. The end temperature does not matter much any more. As long as you do not heat it up too much or let it to cool to deep it will stay in a specific temperature range very stable.
So we start tempering Valrhona Jivara for a batch of Bakewell tart Chocolates. The Truffle shells getting made and filled the day before. Chocolate moulds get cast, the whole crew is very friendly to each other. No yelling, not really much pressure, everyone knows what they are doing and very little questions are getting asked.
As I am coming from kitchens I was getting used to get yelled on, bollocking and a lot of pressure during service times.
Here it is completely different. Although it is for me quite mind boggling how they are able to manage to produce in two stores truffles and in one store mostly the baked stuff, Brownies and shortbreads. And then getting divided to supply the other stores. They are doing a very good job in keeping the different stores stocked.
Paul is using a wide variety of different chocolate manufactures: There is Valrhona, a French chocolate producer; then Michel Cluizel a French one as well. And others which are not on the seasonal menu.
Due my long hours into kitchens and pastry shops. I am quite familiar with chocolate works, but have never worked full time doing chocolates. That means Cesar and Themina had enough confidence with me to let me temper some chocolate. Pouring chocolate onto the table, and start tabling it. When I thought I was alright with the temperature, scraped it of the marble back into the container. Mix it well with the warm chocolate, and make a test. Dip a palette knife into the chocolate and let it crystallize on the bench. If it not start crystallizing within 3 minutes the chocolate is not ready. But it was fine and my first time tempering without a thermometer or microwave went pretty successful.
I did a lot of truffle rolling, cover the gloves with a little chocolate and start rolling those truffles to achieve an even coating. Paul (not Paul A. Young) an ex chef now chocolatier showed me the right technique and soon I started gaining speed.
The day and the week went on with more chocolate tempering, filling shells and at the end even casting moulds and caping them. That means the filled and casted truffle moulds get sealed.
After my last day i took a medium box of truffles home with me, I cant remember all the flavours, so here are a couple pictures.
sorry I had already a couple before I remembered to take a picture
In retrospect I have to say it was a good experience. Paul A. Young is an amazing teacher, and a really good boss. I had unfortunately only one day to work with him but that was enough to revalued my views on pastry.
Sometimes a peach is just a peach