No classes were scheduled to meet last night, as a faculty development day was planned. This break happened to line-up with Pastry Art & Design holding their annual 'Top Ten Pastry Chefs in America' awards ceremony at ICE. The administration asked for volunteers and I jumped at the opportunity to work alongside the accomplished pastry chefs that evening.
Each of the ten chefs had a table set-up in one of four kitchens, where they were to present a plating of one of their desserts after the awards ceremony that evening. I ended up working with Chef Alfred Stephens, who is the head pastry chef at Olive's at the W Hotel in Union Square (NY).
While some of the other chefs were extremely uptight and did not want any students near their desserts, Chef Stephens welcomed help from the volunteers as he blared 80's music from his orange iPod. Brushing chocolate onto hundreds of plastic plates was not as tedious with Journey and Guns 'N Roses to hum along with.
Chef Stephens allowed us to help plate every part of the dessert he was presenting, trying to give everyone helpful tips along the way. The dessert looked wonderful: hazelnut semifredo with Fruity Pebble popcorn, sour cherry sauce and malted ice cream on chocolate cookie crumbs. As the rush slowed, he asked if any of the volunteers had tasted it yet. No one had tried it, not sure if we were actually allowed to try the desserts. "Well, dig in!" he laughed.
It was incredible. Reading or hearing the description of the dessert may make it seem fussy with too many flavors, but the taste was simple and well executed.
We eventually walked around to taste all the desserts, some were interesting, some were wonderful and more than one was terrible. It was a really incredible evening to be part of; a truly unique experience.
Be sure to check out all my photos from the event by clicking on the "Photo Gallery" link on the right!