The French Pastry School is known for being the top of its class. You don’t get to the top without demanding excellence, and this class is definitely doing that.
We started the day working with pastiage, a material that I as a chocolatier have never worked with. Pastiage is a combination of confectioners sugar, starch and geletin. It’s not particularly tasty but it’s nice to work with and allows easy molding of things that would be impossible with chocolate. Working quickly so it would not become to dry we made various swirls that reference wrought iron metal work.
I find it interesting to see how different chocolatiers use everyday objects and home made tools, a lot of tools for chocolate sculpture come right from the hardware store. Chef Leroux had his own collection including some homemade silicon molds used to mold leaves. We used a heat gun to mold acetate sheets to the leaf vein pattern on the homemade silicon molds. After sandwiching the semi molten acetate between the two sides of the silicon mold, appling pressure and letting it cool we were left with acetate leaves that we could mold chocolate on. This is a really cool technique that creates a very detailed leaf.
The rest of the day we spent continuing to fine tune our base pieces, molding chocolate leaves, and creating various spheres and swirls we’ll need for our final pieces. Chef Leroux is staying a few steps ahead of us as he builds one of each of the sculptures, so we’ll have an example for reference. It is constantly amazing to witness the skill of a master. Each action is so precise, and executed with such grace and accuracy. I can hope that with years of practice I might come close to Chef Leroux’s level, and close would be quite an accomplishment.