Oo la la! and a 4 day Chocolate Class in Chicago!
Oo la la!
Yum la la!
Didn't know I spoke French that well, did you? Oo la la! Well, I don't. Completely out of practice. (Though I did get to practice my Spanish while attending the class.)
What I did was go for a 4 day class at the French Pastry School in Chicago. It was an adventure and a half. The class was chock full of notables, Fran and son from Fran's Chocolate, a woman from Ethel's Chocolate (upscale Mars, Inc. chocolates), a chef from the SF Hilton and a host of people who either owned their own chocolate shops or worked for (LARGE) companies who owned chocolate shops, example, Kohler. (I shit you not. Sorry, Karen, I couldn't resist. $-)
Fran and her son, Dylan. What nice people.
The whole class minus Dimitri, our translator. Everyone was grand.
For many of us in the class, it was a fine tuning or a refresher and for others a pleasant way to spend a week. In other words, a boondoggle. For your intrepid chocolatier, it was a chance to see what the French are doing plus extend my knowledge about this very large and rich subject.
The class was taught by the amazing Franck Kestener, MOF, the youngest person to be named Best Artisan in France for Chocolate. Franck treats every chocolate he makes as if he is in a competition. This level of excellence is breath taking. I learned some great technique from him as well as some wonderful business ideas. (Sshhh! No telling.) And of course, I have immediately applied many of the techniques to my chocolate making. Making my already beautiful chocolates even that much more lovely.
Look at all that space behind Chef Franck. I could start 5 businesses in that space. Sigh. $-)
And helping as translator and assistant, the wonderful and very funny Dimitri Fayard, World Champion 2008. Both of these gentlemen were not only talented but also very personable. If you ever get a chance to take a class by either of these two, do it. Dimitri is on the right. I can't find a picture of him without Franck.
Dimitri actually used the phrase, Oo la la!, in context, naturally and spontaneously. First time I have ever heard this used outside of the movies. Dimitri made this special class even more, well, special.
What did we do? The first 5 hours of each day except for the last, Franck demo'ed various techniques while we took notes and asked questions. It was like heaven. The demos and lectures were all wonderful,
Using machines. This is a vacuum Robot Coupe.
And using even more machines. A nice enrober.
I only wish we could have had two or three hours of lecture/demo and then 2 hours to put what we learned into practice, followed by two more hours or lecture and demo, etc, repeat. Or perhaps start the class at 8AM rather than, gulp, 7AM and then after lunch spend three hours making chocolates.
Me making pâte de fruit. And yes, I gained 7 pounds, now lost, eating out a couple of nights and getting up early.
Where did I eat out? Lots of places. But the only place I took pictures was at Frontera Kitchens. Nice place. Decent Mexican food but extremely expensive. I've had just as good Mexican in Mexico. Ah, I remember Las Mañanitas in Cuernavaca. Sigh. I need to take Kim there. Now that el Casino de la Selva is closed down, sob, I mourn its passing, I need to take her to the remaining highlights of my well spent, and it is spent, youth. (Don't tell Kim that. %-)
And remember, I'm the guy that called Spago, a good working man's lunch. So, not afraid of $$$$. It's just the context. I wasn't wowed. Good Mexican Food, yes. But then, I love a nice taco con sesos or a taco con cabesa. I probably would enjoy that just as much. Some of those taco trucks have given me a WOW!
And an even more interesting dessert that I didn't take a picture of. And the Margaritas were great.
Just a little while ago, I ate one of the chocolates we made with pop rocks in them. That brought a smile to my face.
What? No secrets or techniques? Nah! Not in this post. This is a what I did when I was in Chicago for a week post.
Look at that nice show piece that Chef Franck whipped up to help display the chocolates we made. Beautiful.
And here's a better picture of the show piece.
Finally, some face time with the two Chefs. (I think I need to get new whites.)
I also got to practice SMR with a friend and I almost went to dinner with another friend. I was so busy after class that I wasn't able to go out to dinner or drinks with the other students. Kim was stuck here making all those wonderful Halloween Chocolates because our sales team was selling like crazy.
If you're interested in chocolate, go to Life By Chocolate and order now.