Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Docent's 50th Anniversary Gala



The Art Institute of Chicago decided to throw a gala for their docent's 50th year and I was asked to create a golden dessert for their golden anniversary. I mulled it over for a very long time before I came up with this: Valrhona Manjari mousse with passion fruit gelee (inside), olive oil feuilletine layer between the mousse and chocolate cake, "golden" chocolate sauce and "golden" chocolate decor, and "golden" honey. Did I mention that I had to make 340 of these desserts? That it would be featured in the restaurant upstairs?

So I met with Chef M and explained my flavor profiles and what direction I was going in. She told me that the passion fruit would not be used, as they only served seasonal items in the restaurant. I was mostly using the passion fruit because it was golden in color, as well as for an acidic balance to the rich dark chocolate. Also, you really don't find a lot of yellow-hued fruits in the fall. So, we decided to use caped gooseberries for the garnish. I was fine with that (sort of, I mean, have you really tasted a caped gooseberry?). And absolutely NO GOLD would be on the plate AT ALL!! Well, I thought that a bit odd, seeing as how, after all, we were celebrating a "Golden Anniversary." Fast forward to the actual gala. I'm busting out 350 of these bad boys for the gala all by myself. Short staffed as I possibly could be, exhausted, with a sinus infection starting in (apparently ragweed and mold spores are high right now), lack of sleep and proper food. I'm dreaming about these desserts, I'm so stressed. I get through the event, not quite happy with the result. See, we often have to use cooks from other accounts, many of whom do not have any pastry experience. So, of course, plating is off, there is no consistency, some of them are a big "bruised," etc. Exhausted, but not quite dead, I go in the next morning at 6AM to prep the mousses without the insert (since I really didn't want to stay any later that night) and make sure that they had the mise upstairs for their lunch service. I'd sent an email to the chefs letting them know that I would be up to go over it with the staff. When I take everything upstairs, I'm told that the chef is in the pre-shift meeting and that they are not starting the dessert until tomorrow, seeing that it was so "last minute." Last minute my Aunt Fanny! I wasn't too happy, no wait, I was pissed! I'm losing sleep over this! Fast forward to today when I am told that Chef M. has decided to come up with her "own" concept of the idea, creating recipes so that I won't have to do the "work," like they're doing me a favor. I politely told the Sous that I had already started prep on the dessert and asked that they use those since they are already done. "Ok," (again with the favors!) was the reply. The dessert had been created and the recipes are in place. So, after it is all said and done, it will not be my dessert featured in the restaurant-f*ck-you-very-much-and I have no idea what they have come up with (even after I asked to be included in the process). This, after the announcement at the gala that my dessert would be on the menu in the restaurant and that for every one sold, $1 will go to the Docent Program.

So here I am, vacillating between being very angry (how dare she be so disrespectful!!), and trying to learn to let go (don't be such a Petty Betty!). I feel I have been treated in an unprofessional and rude manner. I have done everything possible to make this easy for them, including doing the prep for the dessert.

The photo posted is the one on the publications for the museum. Maybe that will change too, but it is the original dessert.

So that's where I am right now.

Oh well, on to the next project!

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