Within the pastry department the to-do list is our lord and master. (I and the other assistants sometimes allow the chefs to think they are, but we all know what holds the real power here.) Each day the list, often 20+ items long, dictates what has to be prepped, frozen, baked, ordered, or signed for. On my first day, the list noted that we had to prepare cookies for the cookie plate, develop a new recipe for those Concord grapes that should be rolling in (assuming the order was made), bake up breads for Monday’s brunch, whip up components for the brulée, OH! and by the way, there’s a last minute, 30 person special event going on today so we’ll need to bam out some individual cheesecakes for that as well.
Just another day.
The list is formed by any number of things: the occupancy of the adjoining Citizen Hotel, the number of reservations on the book that night, what fruits need to be used up in the fridge, what produce is in season, what desserts on the menu are selling or not selling (the corn cake is epic; why aren’t the servers pushing it harder?), and so on.
This list is varied and fickle, often changing without warning and always adding, removing and bumping things in order to meet the sweet-tooth demands of staff and customers. This may sound like a complaint, but it’s not. The list’s shape-shifting tendencies are what keep the days so interesting and varied. We wouldn’t want pastry to become predictable now, would we?
Garrett McCord is a freelance and staff food writer. You can read his work in Edible Sacramento, Sacramento News and Review, and his blog, Vanilla Garlic.