Learning with the Maestro

On the occasion of Le Cordon Bleu’s 120th birthday, students of G D Goenka School of Hospitality were introduced to Pâtisserie Master Chef Nicolas Houchet, who conducted a demonstration class along with Chef Katerina Garwood.

The recipe for the day was the Choux Crumble Chocolat et Caramel Salé. As much as I love baking cakes, there’s something immensely satisfying about making patisserie classics. Moreover, being a crazy chocolate and caramel fan myself, I was personally super stoked for this class!

Relaxed and personable, Chef Nicolas Houchet took the class step by step through the whole recipe; explaining each and every element and making complex techniques like tempering chocolate look so simple. He is such a passionate chef and teacher, and also incredibly enthusiastic and so fascinating to listen to. You can’t help but want to just jump back into the kitchen.

He started off the recipe by making the sable topping, to create a slightly crunchy crust over the choux pastry, and to balance the textures between the creamy filling and the soft choux pastry. He then moved onto other elements of the recipe, like creating the perfect sized choux pastry, getting the caramel filling done and making the chocolate chantilly. I never thought that a simple dessert like choux pastry could contain so many different elements.

Chef Nicolas Houchet’s class was fantastic. He himself is a bundle of energy in the kitchen and his knowledge of pastry in particular seemed unrivalled. It was an absolute delight watching him in the kitchen.

The end result was nothing but impressive. Not only did the choux pastry look spectacular, but it tasted divine as well! There was an explosion of flavours in my mouth when I had that bite-sized dessert. It was literally perfection in every bite. I just wanted to keep having more, and luckily, I managed to eat three.

At the end of the day, everyone left with great flavours playing on their palates and a big smile on their faces.

During the class, Chef also offered encouraging words to those of us who are about to embark on our careers as culinary and pastry chefs. The talented and gifted Chef told us how it took him more than one try to perfect his techniques and skills. It is helpful to remember this while learning new skills. We may not get it right the first time, but with practice, we will get it better.

Watching the chef and listening to his wisdom was a highlight I will never forget.

Blog Writer: Ashveen Kaur PGDCAM, SoH

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