how sweet it is

Edmonton Sun - - LIFE - Chef Paul SHUFELT chef­paul@the­work­ @Chef­paulshufelt

There’s no deny­ing it. I have a sweet tooth. Any­one who has worked with me has likely caught me red-handed in the choco­late chip tub, or sneak­ing a short­bread cookie when I thought no one was look­ing. It’s likely a large part of the rea­son why my shape is round, but, hey, no one trusts a skinny chef any­way do they?

You would think that given my love for all the sweeter things in life I would be de­cent at cook­ing them, but the truth is that my bak­ing skills leave some­thing to be de­sired.

While cook­ing re­lies on a good foun­da­tion of the ba­sics and then a whole lot of gut in­stinct, and ad­just­ing course as we go, trust­ing our taste buds, bak­ing is far less fly by the seat of your pants, and far more pre­cise mea­sure­ment, with each in­gre­di­ent not only pro­vid­ing ele­ments of flavour, but also con­tribut­ing to the suc­cess or fail­ure of the end re­sult.

I think that’s why most chefs tend to stray away from the pas­try depart­ment, leav­ing that job for peo­ple with more pa­tience, fo­cus and at­ten­tion to de­tail, like a pas­try chef. That’s also why so many smaller restau­rants tend to have rather sim­ple desserts on their menus, as very few of them have the cash flow to af­ford hav­ing a pas­try chef on their team.

I’ll be the first to ad­mit that this is the case at Work­shop Eatery. We fo­cus on fairly sim­ple pas­tries and baked goods, ones that we can recre­ate con­sis­tently, but con­tinue to make from scratch and be proud of. I would sooner do that than to pur­chase fancy gar­nishes or pre-made baked goods.

We try to keep things fresh, chang­ing things up sea­son­ally, work­ing with what is read­ily avail­able at the time of year. When it gets to this time of year, things get a lit­tle scarce.

Our new­est ad­di­tion to the menu this fall is a crème caramel. This dish has ori­gins back to the orig­i­nal kitchens of France. The dish con­sists of a sim­ple sugar syrup cooked to a caramel stage, then poured into the mold be­fore adding the rich egg cus­tard. It is then cooked in a wa­ter bath in the oven un­til the cus­tard sets firm. It is then cooled, then flipped out onto a plate, with the soft caramel driz­zling down over the per­fectly set cus­tard.

This ba­sic dish finds a va­ri­ety of in­ter­pre­ta­tions through­out many cul­tures all over the world. In our case, we don’t mess with the clas­sic.

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