Friday, April 30, 2010

last trip for a while

I'm sitting in the "Culinary Centre", at the General Mills headquarters, in Minneapolis. Once again, being treated like royalty. I'm here working with Jeremy Goduas. Jeremy is doing the viennoiserie portion of the next US baking team that will compete in Las Vegas in September. Currently, the bread guys, the sculptors, and the pastry guys are practicing separately, once the final three are chosen, they will begin choreographing their work together. I mentioned before that they need to share the equipment in a bake shop together and get their day done in eight hours. Lots of issues to get worked out.

Turns out Jeremy is the only viennoiserie candidate. left standing. The other two guys dropped out, not sure if permanently, or if they plan on coming back. Bottom line, they're not here now. We all arrived here yesterday. Peter Yuen and I drove up from Chicago. Jeremy, flew in from Seattle, and this afternoon, John Kraus and Philippe LeCorre will be here to critique Jeremy's work. We'll make some decisions and suggestions, and do it again tomorrow. Wednesday before we left, the US received the rules from France, regarding the upcoming LeSaffre Cup. No shocking changes, Jeremy wil have do a traditional croissant, chocolate croissant, traditional brioche in a fluted cup and braided brioche. Plus three other pastries of his choice, one being a "Variety from our country". They do that element every competition. Turns out you can justify anything, the US is a big place. We're making everything somewhere. They also have to down play this competition, because there are a lot of countries that compete, that aren't that familiar with an "Artisan" style of baking. There will be four of these LeSaffre Cup competitions, worldwide. They need to determine nine winners to round out the field to twelve teams for the World Cup in 2012. So many rice cultures and flat bread cultures, it's tough for them to compete in a "Long fermented" bakery world. We see it at every competition, the influence of "Flatter" breads done by the Moroccan team. The South American countries, always have very bland looking product, because that is in their "Culture". It goes back centuries, places that grow inferior wheat, are going to bake "Inferior" bread, by our standards.

Things at the bakery have been good. Burnin' thru macarons. The power of advertising is unmeasurable. Like my buddy John Roeser says "The more you make(of something) the better they will be, and the faster you be at makin' 'em". Sharp fellow, that Roeser guy. I'm very proud of our macarons and they way we get them done. I've been making all the shells, but preparing the fillings and putting them together has been a team effort. I think the biggest improvement has been in the caramel ones, really cool. Been makin' 'em everyday, couple mixes.

Joe has made huge strides in our pretzel production. We've been at it for a few months now, but now they are really spot-on. Near perfect. Next week, Matt plans on doing a page on our site about them. It is really an interesting process. Joe has determined that making them one day, and freezing them overnight is the ticket. It's all a balance between freezer temperature and percentage of prefermented flour. Very few items we do, are as consistent. After saying this, the next time I walk into the bakery, there will be a pile of lousy pretzels, but that is the chance I take.

First outdoor farmer's market tomorrow. Early in the week forecast wasn't very promising, but I guess that changed, supposed to be sunny and warm in the morning. That's good. we'll be ready. Next Saturday, we'll have both Wilmette and Evanston, here we go.


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