I stayed up to post these pix and update my journal entries… fell asleep at my laptop halfway … now wide awake at 3.10am in the morning. Will complete this entry and catch a few winks before I wake up for another new day in the pastry kitchen. Look forward to each day, as always – it all begins in the mind.
This is my first time working in a real pastry kitchen, and I enjoyed the busi-ness and cheers of the Christmas season as a pastry staff in a hotel pastry kitchen ~ these pix paint a thousand words …
I joined the pastry team during the time when they were in the thick of action prepping for Christmas. There were lots to do and learn. I minimally learnt at least a new recipe each day, and the Sous Chef ensured that, somehow. I am thankful, indeed. I enjoyed working with the team very much – very giving in spirit, and it was not limited to the Christmas season, for sure.
Christmas buffet started from 1 December 2008 – buffet plates were decorated with coloured sprinkles, sugared snowman, sugared Santas, sugared deers, chocolate stars, chocolate Christmas trees, snow powdered “snowland”, Christmas colours of green, red, white, even gold, … Merry Christmas tags etc – and the last day these decor were used was on 4 Jan 2009. New year buffet menu started on 5 Jan.
Chocolates were done in the chocolate room, by a dedicated staff. A staff will be allocated to the chocolate room on average 6 month rotation basis. Chocolate decorations were always ready when we needed them, we just need to pick and choose from the chocolate drawers in the various cabinets in the chocolate room. The staff will see to specific chocolate order request too. Pralines were not done in the hotel, but ordered from a luxurious French chocolate brand.
During one of the chef’s meeting with EPC called regularly in the pastry kitchen – usually in the afternoon about 3pm when 2 shifts are present – EPC rewarded the pastry team with a Panettone specially flown in from Italy. A full 10kg load of Panettone … wow. EPC shared that we do not have the fresh yeast in Singapore to proof a Panettone of such volume. Light and airy. In the past, I might just eat the breads and cakes, without thinking that each had a name and not realizing these were available only during Christmas. I started to be aware and pay attention, and take interest. At another chef’s meeting, we shared a medium size version. The small ones were retailed as Christmas items. Took a pix with EPC, he said I could share the pix with my friends 😉
One afternoon, I was asked to help out at the Banquet/Function team with Yule log cakes. I was happy to get the opportunity even though I was just scratching the lines on the buttercream for the logs, coz Christmas only happened once a year and these tasks were not done on daily basis. The team was hard at work till Christmas day as no order was rejected. Possibly due to a slow down in economy, up till a few days before Christmas, orders for the Christmas items were below plan as well as below that of prior year. Kudos to the effort by the sales team, and the pastry team working behind the scene, the final tally of Yule log cakes sold was at least comparable to previous year.
On 23 Dec afternoon, a Christmas celebration was organized by the Director of Kitchen for all kitchen staff – both hot and pastry kitchen. Definitely a good spread cooked by the main kitchen for all. For once, wine and champagne were allowed during working hours. We took turns to celebrate as the pastry kitchen were still in the thick of prepping for Christmas. Took this opportunity to have a pix taken with the pastry chef as well as the Director of Kitchen.
I worked on Christmas day for the first time in my years of working, and voluntarily so, to experience the Christmas brunch crowd and the special brunch spread that we prepared. I realized most staff in the hospitality industry worked during the festive as these are critical business period. The pastry team had a Christmas celebration in the pastry kitchen on the eve or rather at the wee hours of Christmas day. I was not present – my family had a Christmas gathering at home, and I chose my working hours to end around evenings on a daily basis so that I can spend time with BK after his work. On Christmas day, we celebrated a staff’s birthday with an ice cream cake made by the “ice-cream man” in house – yes, like the dedicated staff for the chocolate room, the pastry team has a dedicated staff for the ice cream room, also on a six month rotation basis. For those of us who were not present during the pastry team Christmas eve celebration, we received our exchange of gift through lucky draw. For the gift, which each of us was to contribute a gift no less than S$13 and it must be unisex, I received a belt, which the pastry chef wore it for fun and joked that it was a wrestler’s belt. Lots of laughter that day.
Christmas … It was a great time to start with the pastry team indeed. Definitely a busy time – lots to do and learn, with volume and repetitions – yet only over a limited period after which menu were changed for the new year and again, more to learn … it was a fun time too!
Ain’t I lucky? I am indeed thankful … Cheers.