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Tuesday was equally slow as Monday. In the afternoon, I made chocolate chantilly cream; pastry cream, which we flavor with yuzu as needed for the cream puffs; and poached pineapple with thyme for a different dessert plate.

My coworker also made a vanilla rice pudding that hotel guests eat with breakfast.

The rest of the afternoon and evening service consisted of more of the same tasks as Monday, alongside brainstorming for new menu items. The main Castel Marie Louise menu changes every two weeks, and the two women who work in the patisserie are responsible for proposing new concepts to the chef. He gives input before the others test the dishes. The chef yeas or nays the final plate. We spent our spare time flipping through recipe books and magazines the patisserie has on hand for inspiration. I think next week, test production on the new plates begins.

It’s interesting to see how the pastry chefs take very simple components and subtly change the flavor or shape to create a final, seemingly complex, sculpted plate. Sometimes, the brainstorming process begins with a sketch with shapes instead of flavor combinations. The different elements and flavors are then inserted into the sketch. It’s more like sculpture or painting than cooking; you visualize an image and use the materials you have on hand to complete the piece. Or, you draw inspiration from the materials themselves and build a final product. I appreciate getting to see how the process works, and I’m learning how to perceive seemingly basic pastry elements in a more enlightened fashion.

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