Clad in white aprons and armed with a spring-bound booklet of recipes, a dozen amateur chefs are busy preparing different types of delectable french pastries. Egg whites are being whipped into stiff peaks, choux pastry is being piped onto baking sheets and pecans and peanuts are being slivered, while Chef Franck Geuffroy walks from station to station, monitoring the progress of each team of participants.
Geuffroy, one of the top dessert chefs in France and the Pastry Director at the prestigious culinary institute, Alain Ducasse Education, is in India to conduct workshops on French cuisine, organised in partnership with Taj Hotels. After the two-day workshop in patisserie making in Mumbai this week, Geuffroy joins his colleague Chef Jeremy Delteil in Aurangabad for a workshop today and tomorrow at the Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad, followed by one in Delhi on June 20 and 22.
The chef is not fluent in English, but that is hardly an obstacle for him. He quickly demonstrates the steps to each recipe, aided with a smattering of English and expressive gesticulation, and his students for the day snap to attention. The making of french pastry is notoriously exacting and, chef explains, anyone attempting to make it needs to be fired by passion, besides needing loads of patience. Before the workshop began, the ingredients were already measured and parceled according to the preparations.
Still, the workshop participants have several questions, which the chef responds to with aplomb. “These are all amateur chefs who are here to have fun while learning something. I can’t go into too much detail with them,” Geuffroy explains, with the aid of a translator, “That will only cause them to lose interest. But at the workshops in Aurangabad and Delhi, I’ll really crack the whip. The participants there will be professional chefs, so I can up the ante by 200 percent.”
But Geuffroy acknowledges that he will have to tweak recipes according to food preferences. That seems like a hard thing to do; egg, for instance, is considered to be integral to French pastry. Geuffroy, however, says, “The final dish may not taste exactly the same as the original, but substitutions can be made. French pastry can be made even without egg. There is always a way to get around.”