Monday, June 18, 2007

Fruits of my labour

I never thought that some of the most important lessons I would learn from my Pan Pacific practicum would be about fruit. The pastry kitchen uses case after case of fresh fruit every day, for tarts or flans, decorations on plated desserts, cakes, platters, and smoothies for example. Cutting fruit is not difficult per se; however, cutting fruit fast and properly is the goal. My knife skills have improved vastly during my practicum and Chef Ted has imparted on me a greater respect for the natural beauty of fresh fruit.

Halving and quartering strawberries with only a paring knife in my hands (without a cutting surface) is now routine and fast for me. Dismantling a pineapple is now an easy 20 second task. Considering the ultimate destination and time to consumption of the fruit is also important. For instance, if your 150 strawberry halves are destined to stand erect on a plated dessert, the green stem needs to be cut flat across; however, if your strawberry half is for a fruit kabob, it is more important to conserve as much fruit on your strawberry, so make a smaller V-cut to remove the stem. When producing fruit flans, the thickness of your melon or pineapple slices must be not too thin because they will dry out before they are glazed and served hours later. But if too thick, the flan is not as aesthetically pleasing. Even minor things like, should a cut strawberry neighbour a cube of pineapple on a bamboo skewer for a fruit kabob, must be considered. The answer is no because the pineapple will soon be stained pink.

There are numerous "pearls" of knowledge that I am lucky to have learned and will hopefully retain as I continue in my new career. Undoubtedly, there is such depth and breadth of pastry knowledge in the Pan Pacific of which I have only caught a glimpse during the past several months. I hope that the education will continue as my professional life expands beyond my practicum days.

2 comments:

prairieox said...

Well said! When we next see each other and encounter strawberries et al, you should show me how to cut them properly. I still can't bring myself to slice strawberries towards my own thumb with a paring knife!

Erik said...

As you know, Charm, cherry red spots are make my people very scared...well, maybe not on pineapples!