Laduree Shop on the Champs-Elysees
It's August! Almost the end in fact. Where has my summer gone? Once again as my time in Paris winds down and my departure to the US approaches, I start to reflect on the events of the past few weeks. This Friday I will be saying goodbye to my new friends at Laduree. Many of them will be saying goodbye to Laduree as well. The kitchen is moving to another location and many people have taken this as an oppurtunity to move on to other places as well. I'm saying goodbye to a lot of new friends already.
Last I had written I was working in the Bandes kitchen, filling the round Pate a Choux for the Religeuse, dipping finger-like Eclairs in fondant, and assembling the bases for the St. Honore's. I fell into the routine quickly and felt at home. This was after two weeks in the craziness of the Morning Entremet team. Entremet does everything, and everything in large quantities. I've made and measured coulis, pouring them into various shapped flexi-molds, piped fluffly meringue dacqouise in to spirals, I've seen the Laduree cupcakes through the entire production process and taken part in each step. I've frozen my finger tips from removing coulis from the molds directly out of the blast freezer, I've stacked and arranged multiple compents of all the Laduree pastries. I've learned short cuts and quick tips, and most importantly how to use both hands at all times!
Last Thursday I switched to my final post of my stage: Tour. Tour is the kitchen where everything croissant or bread is made, and then some. We are the earliest starting team of the day, beginning at 6:30 am. On my first day I rolled many croissants and found out that Laduree has two types of croissant: the Laduree and the Ancienne. The Ancienne has slightly more butter and an different turning process then the Laduree, giving it a flakier texture, where the Laduree has been described as being a bit more doughy. I plan to do a side by side comparison soon.
In Tour we also make a components of other desserts as well. The bases for the St. Honores and Tarte Tatins, Quiche crusts and little sales petit fours for the restaurant kitchen, Coconut Sables that are packaged and sold, and Tart shells that are filled later by the night team. This post is probably the most physically demanding. There is lots of lifting and turning of large patons of Croissant and Feuilletage. Overall the department is calm, things run pretty smoothly and there is a bit of a rhythm. Roll the Croissants, fold the Pain au Chocolat, set aside the pastries that need to baked off for the night crew, turn the patons, cut out various doughs, measure ingredients for the next day's batch of dough, clean, rinse, repeat. And thankfully in this department I work with a native English speaker. Its nice to have someone who can translate when I just can't figure out what they are saying, but it's also nice to have someone to share a little conversation with while working as well.
My lack of fluency in the French language has been the cause of most of my frustration and humor during this stage. Thankfully, I've forgotten most of the low moments already and the funny ones I'll never forget. I hope my coworkers have gotten as many laughs at my mispronounced words as I have of there's. This stage has been the most physically, mentally and emoitionally challenging thing I have done so far in my life, and I've so thankful for this oppurtunity.
Tomorrow is my last day in the Kitchen on the Champs-Elysees. I'm a little sad. Over the past few weeks as people have been slowly leaving, I've learned the custom is to bring in a bottle of Champagne on your last day to share with your coworkers. Everyone gathers around and makes a little toast and has a little drink to wish the departee well. Tomorrow is also the last day for several regular employees. I'm leaving the Champagne up to them. 3 months in France may have increased my understanding of French, but I still have to leave a nice American impression for them (as if I haven't left enough of one already). So in lieu of Champagne, I'm taking Chocolate Chip cookies. I'm sure they will go great with the others' Champagne.
It's Quite the Busy Place