With Easter approaching I’ve been making lots of hard boiled eggs for products.
In our last class we made Greek Easter Bread and Easter Egg Nests each with a fully cooked and colored egg.
Then during a recent supermarket trip I saw hard boiled eggs in the dairy case. Really? How hard is it to make hard-boiled eggs?
But then I remembered the places where I’d worked and how even the gourmet eateries used convenience foods. One “fine dining” restaurant had lasagna on the menu. When a customer ordered lasagna, they probably envisioned a beautiful steaming pan made fresh that day. But this restaurant purchased a large frozen slab of Stouffer’s with precut pieces. Zip, into the microwave, then plated and served with a fresh slice of lemon and parsley sprig.
Using convenience foods or fully cooked frozen meals is not something we would expect from a restaurant kitchen. Especially the nationally recognized hotel chain where I worked as a pastry chef. Although I was expected to produce massive quantities of all-scratch baked goods, the line cooks used many frozen fully prepared items.
From The (Faux) Pastry Chef Page 101
We were both still in [Chef’s] office and I was getting restless – I had cakes to bake. Not to be deterred, Chef then began a wistful little speech about how having real cooks and bakers were what set us apart from other restaurant kitchens.
Oh, please. I was the short person whose lower eye view enabled me to discover the canned mashed potatoes under the grill line. I was the baker who heaved aside boxes of frozen, fully baked Sara Lee Danish and Donuts, and the frozen pie shells the cooks used for Quiche Lorraine, all to extract my “fresh” fresh frozen fruits from the cold storage department. I was the woman who waited patiently for the use of an oven while the morning cook thawed and warmed items for the daily breakfast buffet: pancakes, waffles, and French toast – all of them delivered to our loading dock fully prepared and frozen.
And let me not forget the bucket of frozen hard boiled eggs, a true kitchen time saver. How hard was it to boil eggs? The previous week the cook was out of these frozen eggs and said, “Maybe I will give them donuts, instead.” Well, that’s a good substitute. The only thing those two have in common, is that both arrive in a box and are frozen.
But I didn’t speak. I had nothing else I could say to Chef Nico. I stood there and looked at this man. He was wasting my time.
And the real food he had talked about? Let me give you an example of how the Hotel Gold line cook scrambled eggs. First, delete any picture you might have of eggs being cracked onto a hot griddle. Next, delete that picture of whole fresh eggs anyplace on premise. We had our choice of egg containers, a shell not being one of them. There was either a waxed quart box, reminiscent of a quart milk container, called Easy Eggs. Or there was a huge and heavy two-gallon clear plastic and formless bag filled with pre-beaten stabilizer enhanced eggs called a bladder.
My first day of work, never having seen one of these bladders before, the first thing I did was squirt a gallon of color-enhanced eggs across the room, onto the flour bins and floor, and down my leg into my new sneakers. This was all in one shot. I was wet and yellow the rest of the day, except for my face, which was surely a pretty shade of pink.
My second day on the job, I was about to put some cakes into the oven when two huge steam table pans of jiggly opaque yellow jello caught my eye. Jello in the morning? Yellow jello, with steam rising from its depths? I was stumped as to what it could be. Then I saw Masud, our Algerian line cook, standing there with a butter knife. He was cutting the jiggly mass into small squares.
“Masud, I have never seen anything like that before. What is it?”
He looked at me quizzically, like I was possibly making a joke that had to do with American culture. He might have been right, I did like to joke around, except I really had no idea what that stuff was. I could not even guess.
“Scrambled eggs,” he replied as a matter of fact, pleased that he finally knew more than a pro baker.
I have no doubt that as the residents were scooping “scrambled eggs” onto their breakfast plates, they truly believed there was a cook in the hotel’s gourmet kitchen cracking fresh eggs into a frying pan.
Real restaurant food? Ignorance was breakfast bliss.
Home-Based Baking at its Best!
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