Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Lets make cakes!

Good news! I survived the 1st week of my stage and had the luxury of a 3-day weekend to look forward to which was pretty nice. I definitely needed all the rest I could get as my 2nd week was also morning shift but at another shop. As mentioned previously, this shop does no "production" work and is all about "finition", i.e. building cakes and tarts.  My first day almost got off to a pretty shaky start as I arrived at the designated time of 6am except I had no idea how to get into the shop (normally, at the other shop, one just saunters through the open doors) as everything was completely closed! Luckily, a fellow stagiaire arrived shortly and very kindly showed me the doorbell (inconveniently tucked away around the corner from the door) and hey presto, someone came and open the door! :)

So what are the differences?
  • The only toilet is located INSIDE the men's changing rooms - a bit weird, but you get used to it!
  • The lab spans over 4 floors, all in the basement. 2 are really storage areas (1 of which leaks), 1 has the oven and the other is the main lab. As the team are smaller, the lab actually feels bigger even though it is smaller in size to lab in the other shop. Worktop space, a luxury!
  • Like the other lab, we have a plongeur (ie. washer-upper) but this one cleans the floors for us, cuts roses and lychees!
  • We get to try some of the cakes which are not perfect and don't make it to the pastry case.
  • We also get a discount if we buy cakes in the shop, I can highly recommend the Ispahan cheesecake - you can really taste that world-renowned raspberry, lychee, rose flavour combination clearly here, unlike in the original macaroon which is a little too sweet for me. Not entirely nuts about the cheesecake base though.
  • People actually chat while they're working, mainly a lot of gossiping about fellow co-workers though! (JD reminded me that this happens everywhere which is true, shows just how long I've been out of the workplace!!)
I have to admit, the work has been a lot more interesting this week, being taught how to build all the different cakes on sale - a great feeling being able to see what you made every day in the pastry case after I finish work. We tend to finish earlier than at the other shop but for some reason, I feel even more tired than usual.....possibly because the work is more intensive here as we have a deadline to meet and have products ready before the shop opens. As its also my first week here, there's a lot of learning to do and remembering everything that people say to you re: how to decorate a certain cake, what are the steps and where all the ingredients are, etc. 

A few points of note this week:
  • I met the "big boss" who has his office in this shop also. A bit of a shock at first but it was pretty cool when he walked around the lab to shake everyone's hand. He's much shorter and plumper than I had imagined :)
  • Whilst reading a book called "Don't Try This At Home", I found out that Michel Roux Jr of Le Gavroche actually initially trained as a pastry chef and did a stage at a patisserie here in Paris, the location of which was at the shop I worked at last week! It feels good to be a part of history, knowing that I have shared the same workspace with such a respected chef :)
  • After a few pointers from the chef, I've resolved to focus even harder on my work, paying more attention to every excruciating detail and making sure that everything I turn out is as good as possible. Being a naturally picky customer myself, I've realised that anything less just won't be acceptable. 
Its been good, I think I am here again next week so hopefully, the learning will continue :)

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