About Me

My photo
on the downward side of the age mountain.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Master Baker

He walked, or was it a strut or swagger. What ever it was it was purposeful, forthright, and with intent. His dancing brown eyes highlighted the all too healthy tan. The azure blue work shirt was opened one button too many. The gold chain, at least 18 karats was anchored with a medallion below the viewing point. His gold marriage ring was noticeable but one didn’t feel that it restricted his social movement. He was French with joie d’ vie.

He had a rounded paunch. Not the soft bread poking kind but one that was in constant use. One that felt curls, twists, and kitchen bends. He was virile and very masculine. His whole male package could make women of a certain age have an intake of breath and remember flirting, a hobby out of practice.

He shrugged his traveling bag off his shoulder and removed a nylon jacket and a neatly rolled chef’s coat. “I would like to hang this up; it has traveled a long way. I rode my bike up from Arizona,” his French accent caressed each word as his eyes probed mine.

It was his hands that mesmerized me. They were strong and muscular. Ragged finger nails capped the fingers and heavy calluses protected his hands from his profession as a Master Pastry Chef. Andre was a master of his profession. His passion was sugar sculpture. Working with sugar is a highly technical and artistic section of the pastry department that includes pulling sugar into gossamer sheets and the most delicate pastel colors. He could blow sugar balloons, imitate roses, and make a pond for swans to swim.

Sugar sculpture is a dying art, with few chefs developing the skills and having the patience necessary for blowing and pulling sugar into elaborate and decorative masterpieces. It takes years of dedication, perseverance, and burns along the way to master this discipline.

The sugar is boiled with water and glucose to a caramel, tartaric acid and food colors are added. As the sugar is cooled it is pulled to form a chain of sugar crystals which will give the sugar a pearl like shine. The artist goes to work molding, pulling, and blowing the sugar into the shapes. The final application is to hand paint or airbrush the finished product with food colors.

And here before me was a master ready to teach a class and hop on his red and chrome bike to ride back to Arizona. I gently took the chef’s coat and showed him the way to the back room. I shook out the jacket perhaps a little longer than necessary and stroked out the wrinkles.

I would not take the class and it would be better that way.


Inspired Amature said...

I liked this one a lot. I remember him well (tho obviously not as well as you).

Inspired Amature said...

I liked this one a lot. I remember him well (tho obviously not as well as you).