Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Behind the Scenes of a Pastry Kitchen

Dubai Food (05) by MeetaK

The last time I was in a pastry kitchen was quite a while back. I had just finished my A' Levels and started my Hotel Management training at the Sheraton in Doha, Qatar. It was going to be a tough couple of years with 2 years of practical training and 4 years of theory. I decided to cover the 2 years practical parallel to the theory to save time and earn more credits. As if that was not exciting enough, it just so happened that the year I went into the hotel management training, was also the year Kuwait was invaded by Iraq and the first Gulf War began raging through the Persian Gulf.

Dubai Food (03) by MeetaK

Believe it or not my father and I were in the midst of it. Soon Doha became the headquarters for the Allied Armed Forces and there I was trying to concentrate on a career I was so passionate about. Well in between scud alarms, gas masks, evacuation training and "what-to-do-in case-of-a-chemical-bomb" workshops, I was swotting over Front Office regulations, Housekeeping procedures and Security guidelines. The practical part of the training was a huge relief as it helped me to enforce my energy and also fear into something sinful. I enjoyed almost each department with equal enthusiasm, but it really was the training in the kitchen that got me tingling. Forget the fact I was not making any fashion statement in my far too big black and white checkered pants, white double breasted shirt and black birkis, I was very happy learning what a mis-en-place or demi glace was. After a four month training in all the sections of the kitchen my last stop was the pasty shop.

Dubai Food (04) by MeetaK 

I will never forget the day when I was wrist deep in making a Sacher torte and the sirens went off. I had no time to wash my hands and thus had to evacuate to the bunker with hands dripping of chocolate. I am sure I had chocolate all over me as I got smiles from guests and other employees of the hotel. The first thing I did was to look for my dad. Once I spotted him I was relieved. Then I made my way to him and waited. Ahhhh! The wait was sweetened with the licking of the chocolaty hands!! Scuds? Who cares! I was in chocolate heaven.

Dubai Food (06) by MeetaK 

My trip to Dubai this time was fantastic in terms of food. My last travelogue of Dubai focused on spots I like, the rapid growth and the colors of Dubai. This time I thought it would be great to take a look behind the scenes of a fine hotel. My dad brought me together with the Pastry Chef of the Coral Beach Hotel and we spent a lovely morning discussing, experimenting and creating desserts. This time with no sirens or scuds!!

Dubai Food (02) by MeetaK 

Tikri Bopitigoda has 25 years of experience as a pastry chef. His specialties are French style desserts and his passion is working with sugar and chocolate. From Sri Lanka he has spent a major part of his life in exotic places like the Maldives and booming cities like Dubai. He puts all his artistic talent into perfectly created desserts, that are almost too much of a shame to really eat.

Dubai Food (01) by MeetaK 

However, once you taste those desserts it's like dying and going to heaven. That's exactly what happened to me when I tasted one such stellar dessert. It was so indescribably exquisite that all my adjectives to describe it just vanished. I have had many grand desserts in my life but this was a sublime experience. And this dessert was the reason I had to meet the person who created it.

Dubai Food (08) by MeetaK 

I have to be honest though, the dessert was not the only reason I was excited. The tingling sensation in my tummy was mainly due to being back in the hustle and bustle of a hotel kitchen.

So, I rolled up my sleeves and in between assisting with mousse au chocolat, strawberry mousse cakes, pralines and fruit tarts, I listened to Tikri's exciting story and great tips on dessert making. In between Soeren came in and we got to taste test and I took a few pictures. At the end of the date Tikri and his team gave me a small gift that would put a huge satisfying smile on every baker's smile. I was touched by the lovely gesture. In my bag, I also had the recipe for that perfect dessert tucked away safely.

Dubai Food (09) by MeetaK 

Soon - I promise!

 
Dubai Food (07) by MeetaK

Talking about extraordinary desserts, I am really excited to share a little piece of news with you. The current issue of Dessert Magazine is featuring Strawberry Mirror Cakes. Page 8 includes one of my photos. How grand is that? I thank Vera from Dessert Magazine for getting in touch with me and to all my Daring Baker mates for daring me to bake and knead!



All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

39 comments :

  1. That sure must be one nostalgice experience meeta....How come u did not choose a similar profession in germany?

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  2. I knew you must have had some training in a kitchen somewhere at some point - your food always looks so beautiful.

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  3. What a sweet and lovely father you have to arrange this for you. I'm glad that you now have this new happy memory and not only the sirens. Thanks for sharing!

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  4. beautiful photos, those chocolate tarts look absolutely yummy! sounds like a really wonderful trip!

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  5. thats a great story, Meeta. I'm sure it must've been crazy in Doha during that time. Glad you were safe (and happy with chocolate!).
    Will be waiting for that perfect recipe! :)

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  6. That pastry kitchen is my heaven, haha - thank you for sharing the story!! How wonderful!!

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  7. Wow, what an *exciting* time to do your training! It is fun to see behind the scenes! Lovely post!

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  8. What an interesting post, Meeta! Wow, aren't you a fighter? My goodness!

    I love the photos.

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  9. Awesome post ! loved every bit of it :)

    Shn

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  10. Yeah for the mirror cakes. I am having my DB pick flashback.

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  11. thank you for this wonderful peek into a lovely pastry kitchen, and into a slice of a pastry chef's life. they are so hard-working and artistic.

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  12. I love hearing about your past experiences in the kitchen. If it had been me and the alarms sounded, I'd have grabbed the pastry too, just in case I'd need some kind of heavenly treat in the coming hours haha.

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  13. What a fantastic story, Meeta! I can imagine the hand-licking perfectly ;-)

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  14. I loved this post - and the photos are so wonderful!

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  15. Becoming a pastry chef is what I'm working towards now, I thoroughly enjoyed this post and the pics. It's also nice that you've had formal training before.

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  16. Meeta-That's such an awesome post! Loved reading your story and enjoyed the glimpse into the pastry kitchen. Soeren looks ADORABLE enjoying the choc tart! Thanks for sharing.
    --Ruchika

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  17. nice photos,and btw that choco tart..soooo tempting

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  18. What a fantastic and mouth watering post!
    Congrats on the photo in the magazine. Very well deserved!

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  19. Wow! What an experience. Loved this post. Congrats on your photo appearing in the magazine.

    Best,
    Paz

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  20. So great that your dad was able to arrange this for you! I guess that once you have done pastry, it just stays with you... like riding a bicycle.

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  21. wow, it looks like you had an AMAZING time!! I can definitely go for one (aka ALL) of those desserts right now.

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  22. Meeta - I think this is one of the best posts on your blog... you do write about a lot of stuff other than food, but reading this really moved me. I have no idea why... maybe it is because I have a Tourism and Hospitality background... maybe not. I loved the entire post. Hugs.

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  23. I feel like changing my profession after reading this. :)

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  24. That's sooooo scary to be in the middle of that war... well, in the middle of any war!

    I've always felt so curious about the functioning of a big Restaurant or Restaurant's hotel. You are really lucky to be able to roll your sleeves :D

    Beautiful pictures Meeta! Is that your son? So cute!

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  25. Hey meeta,
    The pastry looks awesome...
    See my blog if u can... i have something for u there...:)
    Thank u

    regards

    Shubha

    http://chutkibharpyar.blogspot.com

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  26. Eehehe! If only I had 2 assistants...but again I don't run a hotel pastry kitchen :)
    the tarts look wonderful!

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  27. there's something for you at jugalbandi. congrats!!!

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  28. what an amazing experience! your photos are gorgeous -- thanks so much for sharing them!

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  29. Meeta that is an amazing life you've led and are leading! Can't wait to see this incredible dessert.
    Yes, your son has great parents and grandparents! And yes I saw your Strawberry Mirror Cake!! Super!

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  30. Cool post! and how gorgeous are those! yummm! i wanna be able to make those some day...

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  31. That would have been chocolate heaven.
    I am hoping that's the recipe you got and will be sharing with us? :)

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  32. How I envy you being able to visit a professional kitchen!! Sounds like you have a blast!

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  33. In the kitchen with the chef! You lucky woman!

    Congrats on your pic in the magazine, I just had a look.

    Will write soon.

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  34. that sure sounds exciting! I'd love to be behind such a kitchen too, esp after seeing all the food network shows:)

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  35. I am so glad I was able to share some of my experience with you all and that you enjoyed taking a peak behind the scenes. I knew many of you would love it. Hugs!

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  36. Where would we be without the Pastry Chef??? Life is Sweet!

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  37. OMG, were you and Chez Asima once class mates at a pastry school? I saw these very tarts on her blog!

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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta