Half Baked: Savory vs. Sweet
Patty Canedo is a chef in Palm Beach. She writes frequently about her kitchen exploits in this column, Half-Baked.
Black Truffles (top) Chocolate Truffles (bottom)
Photos by ulterior epicure & Jamesjyu
Even in our post work getup a stranger still attempted to approach us,
"Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm a real chef," her majesty, the grill cook, took a victory sip of her cocktail after her jab at me.
"Hi, I'm Patty. I'm a skilled chef," the sip nearly came out her nose. She toasted my witty retort regarding my (then) pastry chef status-- a position that still remains the most challenging and intense that I've ever held in any kitchen.
Ask either a pastry or savory chef if they could do the other's job and their ego will respond the same--a smirk and a quick "but it's been forever since I've done it". The reality is that neither one would work a shift in the other's clogs. Why?
Based on the most challenging and rewarding elements, here's my list of Savory Vs. Sweet from a woman with an affinity for both.
In the real world, you wouldn't pit a decadent, rich chocolate truffle against a tender filet mignon. In the kitchen there's a pretty definitive line between the sweet and the savory. Having added a taste of pastry to my repertoire gave me the opportunity to stand beside both chefs immersed in their element:
In all its glory, in any variety, using delicate hands, chocolate, cakes, sugar, etc. can be molded in any shape your imagination can take it.
Trim it, fabricate it, or hack it with a cleaver but that beautiful hunk of protein is still going to take a hauntingly falice shaped.
Equally challenging and sensitive to temperature but I've never had a dessert returned for being over or under cooked.
Timing: Savory & Pastry
In both cases, timing is everything but you can't pull a cake early to let it rest while you put the rest of the plate together. On the contrary, there are very few desserts made a la minute. The rich goodness of the dessert menu is ready for service just waiting to be plated. When you love the thrill of the rush where's the fun in that?
Any chef will tell you that pastry is a science! Measurements, ingredients, everthing has to be precise and the margin of error is minimal. With savory there's room to play and add your own signature on a dish. I've stumbled onto some of my best recipes from an accident prepping the hotline.
We chefs are reknowned for our patience...wait for it......LOL! So having to take a steady hand to add delicate features to something that's already taken hours to create is not the pace most chefs like to work at. It's a real test of character as well as skill.
Tools: Savory and Pastry
Working the hotline all we really need to arm ourselves with is one sharp knife and a pair of tongs to get through the rush. Plus there's nothing like a new knife. Pastries need a little more finesse--tweezers, tips, off set and regular spatulas, the list is endless and the baggage gets to heavy quick. Course there's nothing like a new toy.
The most controversial argument amongst the toqued. Which takes more? While a baker may know what temp medium rare is and a cook may know how to make a souffle doesn't mean their positions on the line are interchangeable.
So which do you think that I prefer? I have an appreciation for both sides of the line but my heart belongs to...
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to South Florida dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.