Friday, July 10, 2009

How I Spent My Vacation

During the last week in June I took some time off, closed down Jillicious Desserts for a week and drove down to California. It was time to have a little vacation, relax, visit friends and of course do some shopping. One of the highlights of my trip was visiting my mentor and friend Chef Doug, who I met right before graduating from culinary school. I had planned to visit him at the Professional Culinary Institute, where he currently teaches in the baking & pastry program, one of the days I was in town. One day turned into four fabulous days of my week long vacation. It was the best part of being back in the bay area.

Although I love having my own business and having the opportunity to create my own desserts, sometimes I miss being around other people in this industry. People that I know, admire and continue to learn from--which is why it was so great to be back in a learning environment. The great thing about the culinary industry is that you never stop learning about the trade. There is ALWAYS a skill you can practice, improve, cultivate, create, learn more about and then it translates into becoming a better chef, and having endless possibilities of imaginative creations that you discover over time. And if you are lucky, you have people in your life that inspire you to do better, push yourself further and at times, you can just simply enjoy being a part of the creative process. This was one of those times for me.

Over the several days I spent at the P.C.I., I did just that--I worked, learned, shared and was focused on the joy of creating. I visited at the perfect time; the students were getting prepared for their final projects and Chef Doug had taken some extra time to show them how to create a chocolate showpiece and the different techniques you can use in chocolate work. I have to admit that I get so engrossed during these times, that I forget to take pictures of each part of the process. But here are a few that I managed to take:

Let me introduce my good friend Chef Doug. He's working on the part of the chocolate that was poured into a shape and while it was almost set up, the abstract shape is carved and given more character.

There were many other steps before this one, but as I said before, I was too busy just enjoying watching and helping with the other chocolate components. After the main structure was built, a layer of chocolate and cocoa butter were sprayed to give the sculpture an even look and some gold accents were also added.

Most of this showpiece was made up of dark chocolate, but the flowers were made out of white chocolate and then later sprayed with color. This large flower was made up of several components and was very delicate.

After the flower was assembled, it was sprayed with a cocoa butter color and then it was ready to be added to the main sculpture.

Attaching this flower was the most difficult, as the petals were very fragile and the heat of your hands can melt the white chocolate pretty quick if handled incorrectly. But as you can see, it turned out beautifully and added an interesting dimension to the showpiece.

A closer look to one of the small flowers on the base of the sculpture (one of the flowers I helped to make--yes, it was so exciting!)

A side view of the completed Chocolate Showpiece.





Chef Doug--Thanks for everything you shared with me.


  1. Super cool...nice to take a break and learn every so often and remember why you love doing what you do.

  2. Did you get to eat it? Probably you were chocolated-out.

    Beautiful creation.

  3. Beautiful!
    I look forward to seeing some chocolate flowers on your next creations!!