This Week’s Latest Scoop:

Mooch has been slaving away making jars of frozen goodness this week and has a line up ready for you! It has been so refreshing to have the freedom of creating flavours and combining the expected with the unexpected, for example Black & Blue(berry) ice cream with a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg creating a woodsy spice.

Each flavour is created by hand, in microbatches (4 pints per batch!!) and can be picked up on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons.

Dairy-Free: Acai Green Tea Sorbet, Coconut Chai
Ice Creams: Salted Caramel Swirl, Caramel Apple, Madagascar Vanilla, Espresso Chocolate Chip.
Text 778 668 7393 for pick up!

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I Scream, You Scream, We All Want Mooch’s Ice Cream!

Yes Moochers, you read that right! Mooch is now making ice cream as well as sorbets, dairy-free ice cream, ice cream cakes (with a twist). It all started on my 24th birthday, when I churned my first batch- Raspberry Mint Sorbet…

Fast forward three days later, I had made and sold Raspberry Mint Sorbet, Madagascar Vanilla Bean, and Black & Blue(berry) ice cream- dark like these berries with a spiced woodsy feel. The demand and support was incredible, I was churning out ice cream just in time for them to be picked up by hungry Moochers! After the first week with my ice cream maker, I knew this had to become a Mooch staple.

Introducing, Mooch’s Microbatch Ice Cream: homemade, fresh, unique.

We are currently using an emailing list to keep Moochers updated on the new flavours that roll out on a weekly basis. To be added to the list, please send us a message! Flavours are sold by the pint in mason jars for $12 ($10 when you bring back the jar!), on a first come first serve basis.

Big News for Mooch!

Hello Moochers!

Sorry for the bit of a hiatus from posts and Moochables, I’ve been expanding my culinary brain and talent with the chefs at Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar in Vancouver’s trendy Yaletown! I have had the privilege of working with there after my stint at Four Seasons Vancouver and have added flavours and colours to my growing palate.

Without further delay, I am very happy and excited to announce that Mooch is back and ready to create with more passion and vigour than ever. Coming back from The Culinary Institute of America in 2016 led to the busiest summer in Mooch’s 4 year history. After spending the last six months in one of Vancouver’s best restaurants, I am ready to pursue Mooch with full force!

Mooch isn’t quite ready to have a storefront just yet, but I am in the midst of designing my own space to bake and decorate that is purely dedicated to Mooch.

Currently, I am working on creating a gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free macaron cake for a wedding in the fall. There will be more menu additions, so stay tuned! You can see Mooch’s current menu here! I hope to continue to grace your parties and gatherings with my creations. To place an order, click here.

The In’s & Out’s of Catering at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver: Part 2

The menus at each function consisted of a salad, soup, entrée and dessert. At the off-site event, the entrée options were either meat or vegetarian; whereas the in-house event had entrée options of fish, meat, or vegetarian with a different starch for each dish. In both cases, the vegetarian entrées were plated as needed and plated by one person whose responsibility also included restocking the hotel pans of components for the entrees. The fast-paced assembly line setup is essentially the same at both events when it comes to plating the various components, where multiple people are stationed and assigned a component. There were more “special request” orders for entrees such as vegan or gluten-free at the in-house event, which created a more intense environment for the cooks since all their kitchen needs are available and therefore can fulfill guests’ requests rather than be limited by the products that are brought to be used at off-site events.

Although I helped plate the other courses, as a pastry student my main focus was on dessert. Each event consisted of a plated dessert with five components, however the level of difficulty to plate in advance vastly differed. At the off-site event, two desserts were plated on-site but in advance, which gave guests some variation despite the fact they weren’t actually offered a choice between which desserts they were served. The plating styles were consistent in both events as they consisted of a sauce to “glue” the main component to the plate, a crumble to add texture, a crunchy component and the feature cake. Both desserts at the off-site could be plated and then placed aside until the main course was finished. This was the biggest difference between the in-house and off-site events; at the in-house event there was just one single dessert however it consisted of components that had to be executed à la minute. The dessert was a warm chocolate cake with a coffee ice cream quenelle; this was placed on the plates that had been assembled with the other components in advance.

The service style differed since the guests had options with the in-house event; an expediter called out the entrees by table instead of having the assembly line plate the same dish as efficiently as possible. This allowed the banquet servers to give guests their dishes at the same time, regardless of whether they ordered a vegetarian dish (which would likely be served with a slight delay). With two “kitchens” at the off-site event, the service and plating style varied. For example, salsa was added as a garnish into the vegetarian Thai curry soup when it was supposed to be a garnish for the vegetarian entrée in the next course. One type of catering isn’t more superior to another, however each comes with their advantages.

In-house banquets provide guests with a richer experience, and not just because of the warm chocolate cake. The various types of entrees served in-house allow guests more options and also showcases the kitchen’s multifaceted talents and cooking techniques. In addition, by having a uniform kitchen, the food and plating is more consistent as the Banquet Sous Chef supervises it. Catering off-site results in a more laid-back atmosphere since cooks and the Sous Chefs are working within limits of the environment and access to equipment; much of the planning occurs farther in advance because if it isn’t on the truck to the event, you learn that you suddenly don’t need it!

The In’s & Out’s of Catering at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver: Part 1

            Catering at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, whether in-house or off-site, comes with a central goal: to replicate and execute dishes quickly without sacrificing attention to detail. In case the challenge of plating over 200 exact replicas of a dish in a time crunch isn’t enough, the changing environment where the kitchen staff work can cause adaptations in the type of equipment used, the menu, as well as the style in which courses are served.

            Off-site catering brings the sophisticated plates of Four Seasons Vancouver to the guests at the location of their choice; for this event we headed to White Rock, B.C. to cater the Annual Peace Arch Hospital Gala. There were collapsible tables placed around the perimeter of an indoor ice rink with large stockpots and induction burners outside for heating up the pre-cooked food. Banquet servers, and both pastry and savory cooks were loaded onto a school bus joined with a handful of volunteers from the Pacific Culinary Institute of Vancouver. Mark Burton, Executive Pastry Chef and Michael Arnot, Banquet Sous Chef also joined us and each chef supervised one of the two kitchens that were spread around the rink. The makeshift “kitchens” at the off-site event were spread out around the rink, making it difficult for the Chefs, especially Michael Arnot to keep a close eye on all elements of the menu.

Catering banquets in-house allows service that can better cater to the desires of guests since the cooks and chefs have access to any and all equipment they could possibly need. At Four Seasons Vancouver, there is a kitchen solely dedicated to banquets with ample table space to plate up and easy to access heated storage units for the various hot elements of the dishes. Occasionally Four Seasons Vancouver will outsource volunteers from the Pacific Culinary Institute of Vancouver for plating, however current cooks work a majority of the banquets. Michael Arnot oversees the kitchen for all aspects of the menu, including dessert. An example plating of the dessert is demoed by Mark Burton, however the execution at the time of service is under Michael Arnot’s supervision.

Stay tuned for Part 2 with a focus on the best part of any culinary experience, the menu!

 

Je Vais Prend Tout Les Macarons

Translation? I’ll take all the macarons! I last wrote about these finicky French sandwich cookies when I made them at The Culinary Institute, I mentioned how challenging they are and how that challenge drives me to perfect the method in which they are made. Refresh your memory here. Well Moochers, I’ve done it!

I researched different methods online and found a variance in how people made their macarons. Some people say the secret is in how many times you sift the dry ingredients, others swear by leaving the oven door open a crack to decrease humidity, Italian vs. French meringue, saying a prayer to the Baking Gods…everyone has their own trick.

The Culinary Institute of America‘s method involves whisking a very tiny amount of egg white (the equivalent to 1/4 of an egg white) until foamy, and then tediously rubbing the almond/sugar mixture into it until it is essentially dry again. I never understood why this step was important, or even there at all! When I asked Chef Difilippo, who taught the class, he said that was just the “foolproof CIA way, we’ve been doing it that way for a long time and it seems to work”. If Chef says it works, say no more!

I tried using Italian meringue instead of French, where the sugar is made into a syrup and whipped into the egg whites. This creates a stronger, sturdier meringue. I found that the cookies were more chewy, but weren’t “better” than the original method. For the extra work of making sure your sugar doesn’t crystallize or turn into caramel (this happened and it may be the best kitchen mishap I’ve had while being back- re: Cream Puffs with Caramel), it doesn’t improve the macaron. So the French method it is!

I racked my mind trying to figure out why I was sifting, and then clumping it back up with frothy egg whites. So one day I decided to go against what I was taught at CIA; the best culinary school in North America, the one that sets the guidelines and writes the textbooks for all other culinary schools. I whipped up my French meringue, tossed in my 1/4 of an egg white, and folded in my dry. The outcome? Perfect macarons. And yes, this method worked more than once. Check out my instagram to see them in the making (and baking)!

Leave the weighing, sifting, whipping, folding, piping, baking, filling, and packaging to Mooch and order yourself a Macaron Tower here.

Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs with Caramel Sauce

Vanilla Bean Cream Puffs on a bed of Caramel and dusted with Powdered Sugar

This was my day off from work at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver or shall I say, “day off”. I find baking at home almost harder than baking at The Culinary Institute or Four Seasons because the kitchen isn’t solely dedicated to baking; the equipment is good enough for the “home cook”, but to be making treats good enough to be found in a restaurant the space only just meets expectations. Despite home baking being a little more chaotic (re: no dry storage stocked with anything you could possibly need, no fridge full of eggs and dairy, no endless amounts of sheet pans etc.), I feel like it gives me an opportunity to problem solve and understand my craft even more.

I decided to make pate a choux, or choux pastry. Pate a choux is a very versatile batter that can make eclairs, Paris-Brest, profiteroles, croquembouche, creampuffs… with limitless filling/flavour pairings. It is made by combining milk, water, butter and a bit of salt in a pot and bringing it to a boil. Once boiled, it is removed from the heat and the flour is stirred in until there are no lumps. Then, the mixture is placed back on medium heat and cooked until a thin film forms on the bottom of the pot. When the film begins to gain colour, transfer the mixture into a KitchenAid and with a paddle attachment, whip it until there is no steam coming out. Then, slowly add the eggs allowing each addition to fully incorporate. Stop before adding the last bit of eggs and check if the batter is the right consistency; the batter should fall and form a “V” shape when the paddle is lifted out of the mixer. It is crucial not to add too much of the eggs, or else you have to make a half batch of the cooked flour mixture to add to your currently runny batter. Now you’re ready to pipe the batter into whatever shape you desire. Before baking, wait 10-15 minutes to allow a skin to form on the piped batter- this helps the pastry rise upwards rather than just out. Last but not least, egg wash them and pop them in the oven! They will brown, and the dark colour enhances the pastry’s flavour since it develops due to Maillard reaction (protein+carbohydrate+dry heat).

The baking problem that needed solving today: the batter was too loose/fluid from an additional half an egg. Yes that’s right, it went south due to 25 grams of egg. Rather than make another half batch of the cooked flour mixture, I put the whole mixture in a pot and on low heat, stirred it until it began to thicken. I caution using this method because the eggs can curdle from the heat. I threw them in the oven as a Hail Mary for the Baking Gods, and these beautiful puffs came out!

When I made eclairs for my Second Term Practical Exam at CIA, Chef Difilippo gave me a near perfect grade (the only deduction was that on two of the eclairs the fondant did not have a clear line, it had a drip mark). Recently at Four Seasons Vancouver, I made gourgeres which are a cheesy, bite-sized savoury puff. I felt pleased with myself that I could take the knowledge I had gained from making pate a choux at CIA and apply it at Four Seasons!

PS- After working my first off-site catering event with Four Seasons, I’ve found a new love for plating desserts.

PPS- The caramel sauce pictured was the result another baking problem/blessing that happened while I was trying to find the perfect temperature on the electric stove to heat sugar for Italian Buttercream.
  

Teaser: a mini version of what is to come on the Mooch menu