Friday, August 2, 2013

Table Session: The Idea

I worked in professional pastry kitchens in the San Francisco Bay Area for 6 years before launching my blog, Pastry Studio, in 2007.  I'd taken a great consulting job in another professional field but I missed the smell of flour and butter.  I thought of the blog as a way for me to stay creative while I pursued other work.  My goal was to make it simple and fun and to challenge my instincts.

And then, somewhere along the way, I had this idea to write a cookbook………

My interest in the range and style of pastries from other regions began in pastry school.  One of the things that always inspires me about the culinary world is the increasing globalization of our tables.  As we discover more and more about regional cuisine, we’ve become much more adventurous with our menus.  Our local markets and bakeries provide increasing access to ingredients and products that bring new life to our kitchen.  Over time, I found my work in pastry gravitating toward the borders where language and culture co-mingle.  And I also began to notice that many of us find ourselves readjusting and re-imagining our family recipes to better fit our modern diets and lifestyles.  This shift in how we cook and eat and think and talk about food completely fascinates me.

When I set out to write a cookbook, I wanted to convey some of the promise of these cross-cultural currents we experience in our everyday lives.  So I took what I believe are some of the most interesting and delicious ideas and influences and wove them into my repertoire.  In The Global Pastry Table, I call on both old traditions and new approaches to convey what I think of as the global kitchen, a place where we use all our creative resources.

My style in pastry is simple, rustic and unfussy.  I want my work to feel accessible to as many people as possible.  For the most part, I like the pure confluence of flavors and I tend to use sugar as a backnote.   Style influences come from my years of working in both patisserie and restaurant environments, alongside cheesemongers and wine buyers and on a TV set as a plater of ingredients for the Weir Cooking in the City food series with Joanne Weir on public television.  My photography is mostly very minimalist, very still, very sparse.  I always want the pastry to be the central focus and I tend to want it to feel sort of quiet and natural.

The production of this electronic cookbook was a three-year process. From the conceptualization to the recipe development and testing; the photography and the writing; the refinement and the curating; formatting the ebook and then launching, there have been a steady stream of endless details.  In many unexpected ways, this has been a time of tremendous growth -  learning more about the culture of pastry, about people, about beauty, about ingredients, about myself.  

About the Table
I’ve always been interested in the metaphor of the table. The table receives what there is and gives what is there.  At the table, we serve, eat, drink, play, talk, work, confess, build, propose, negotiate, read, dream, trade, deal, win, lose, promise.  We bring our offerings, light our candles, commune, doubt and devour.  We meet, our place is set, the cards are revealed.  We do our best work at the table.

I always notice the mood that pastry creates when placed on any table. There’s a sense of joy and playfulness in the presence of a fruit galette fresh out of the oven or a deep dark chocolate cake, a plate of crisp nutty cookies, satisfying custard or a bowl of luscious ice cream glistening with chocolate syrup.  The forms, the shapes, the colors, the aromas all introduce an element of pure enjoyment.  So it is in this spirit that I hope my new collection entices you to get your hands in the flour, the butter, the chocolate, spices and fruit and enjoy the process of connecting with what is served and with those who are more than happy to receive your gifts.


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