Reflections Catering and Special Orders Course

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The last 4 weeks were spent on catering and special orders, in my opinion the closest to a real-life bakery setting so far in this program.

In the first week we didn’t have many special orders from clients, so we worked on our own planned schedule. It was nice to see, when given the opportunity, what products from the whole program students would go back to making. Some people went back to the things they liked most, some other went back to trying things they didn’t have a change to before, and I took the opportunity to explore choux paste as it is the topic of my final assignment.

I guess that because of the freedom to choose the products to make, it didn’t seemed like a catering and special orders course to me, however it totally change from the second week on. Not only we were given large amounts of products to make we were let to take charge in organizing the production and fulfillment of the orders.

Besides the special orders we received we had skill drill exercises, which even though not so many of us (me included) excel at, it was so beneficial in terms of skill set and time management. Like having to make marzipan roses and leaves within a time frame starting from a set amount of marzipan without any waste, meaning all marzipan had to be used. I got to say the flower making was not the difficult part per se, but when you add the time constrain and specially the no-waste specification things got really challenging. And fun, believe it or not I enjoyed the skill drill exercises most of anything in the past course. I don’t doubt my ability to make things, but I hardly have the time constrains determined by someone else other than myself. Great exercise!

We also had a 2-day practical exam. It was more challenging than I anticipated but I was not surprised when most of us could not complete all the assignments within the given time. During the whole pastry program we never had a practical exam, nor our skills were test along time management, like this test or the skill drills so in the end, while not a great result for most of us, many students suggested tests like this to be included in the previous parts of the program, in a way of preparing us for working in the industry.

The best past for me during the whole course was at the same time the most challenging time, working with chocolate. I do know the theory about chocolate, crystals, tempering, temperature but so many times I had such disconnect from theory to practical exercises, it forced me to work with different chocolate types and tempering methods to a point I got so frustrated that forced me to keep trying to get it all right from the start. And I did. Surprisingly I got better marks at chocolate mould making than cake during the practical test. Go figure.

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