From scrach or out of the box

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Joined Jan 19, 2014
We do a combo of scratch made and packaged goods with our own embellishments. We do several scratch muffins and quick breads but they're  augmented with a few Gold Medal boxed mixes with our own added ingredients. We use a proof and bake raw 100% butter croissant. We also finish a blank pastry coil that's a thaw and bake product that we like. Fresh berries, and/or cheese makes it look like our own. We bake scratch donuts as our specialty. Packaged Frozen 6" pie shells with or without toppers are great for individual quiches and other sweet or savory pies. No trans fat and a good crumb. One of my line cooks is a pastry chef but he works for a line cook's wage, not a pastry cook's salary. Sure, we COULD make everything from scratch but there's only so many hours in the day, and as a small establishment, it's far more efficient to spend .63 for the 6" pie crust than to make our own.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
@kuan  ,

  I have to say that the volume of bid sheets have decreased over the years. Now I mainly bid out the products with volatile prices.Dairy, nuts,etc. I now produce and retail out of 1200 SQ. Ft. but still go through 400 lbs. butter and many cases of Heavy Cream. The heavy cream has been a nightmare lately. I have this lab that I send cream so much, they know my voice on the phone. I'm an ass sometimes. The dairies know damn well the fat content. They'll still let crap slide. I still get the line that their labs are still using mixers to time the cream for content. I'm an old Babcock guy. If the % is off by 4%, I'll call and tell them they have 15 minutes to pick up the crates or else they go on the sidewalk to make room for the new ones I ordered from so and so.The companies old sales VP's are old time friends and are always telling me my bid sheets are unorthodox. I leave the prices from other vendors right on the sheet. I figure if they take the time to respond first, then I leave their bid on the sheet. I buy only 1 lb. solids. I have tested the larger blocks, they are so inconsistent you can notice when you cut through.
 

pete

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Joined Oct 7, 2001
One of my favorite chef stories comes from a pastry chef that I used to work under.  He used to be the Assistant Pastry Chef at a large, well known hotel in Washington D.C.  A family had booked a very high-end wedding there.  The expected cost of the cake alone was going to be thousands and thousands of dollars.  As such, they offered to do cake tastings for the bride, the mother, etc.  Well, first tasting and the mother thought all the cakes were dry and tasteless.  Second tasting and the mother thought all the cakes were still dry and tasteless.  Remember these are pastry chefs with years and years of experience, making everything from scratch.  Third tasting; the same thing.  Finally on the 4th tasting they put in 2 samples from those "pudding in the mix" cake mixes.  Guess which one the mother chose?
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
@Pete  , For a couple of decades now it's SOP not to go outside our box. We tracked our numbers last year and we refer between 10-16% of our consultations

              because the client or Mom after multiple tastings were looking for something different. We learned 20 yrs. ago we don't accept recipes that have been brought in by customers.

              Hundreds used to ask us if we could make the cake their Grandmother used to make. It was the best thing they ever tasted. They always carried a tattered

              recipe with them. It took a few failures before one of our first customers who was a Phyciatrist researching brain function explained what we were experiencing. He told us the customer

              probably is not actually remembering the item, they are recalling the good time and the people around when they were eating it. The sign went up the next day, 19 yrs. ago.

@CapeCodChef  , the Gold Metal products basically do your scaling and result in consistency.
 
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Joined Apr 21, 2016
Oh @Pete, that made me laugh out loud.

My grandmother's baked goods were what first inspired me to go into pastry. She was a difficult person but was forthcoming with all her recipes except for her orange cake. She'd never even give me a hint. So there I am spending absolutely scandalous amounts of money on things like neroli oil and having friends illegally smuggle fresh bergamot oranges from Italy because my grandfather told me she started making it after they got back from a trip to Italy and although I'm making amazing orange cakes, I'm not making *her* orange cake.

Finally, after years of unsuccessful reverse engineering and God knows how much money and labor, I mention it in passing to my father. He starts laughing hysterically. Her secret recipe? A box of Duncan Hines Orange Supreme with a packet of orange Jell-O tossed in for good measure. She just hadn't told me because she was embarrassed.

Thank goodness when I rushed out and made it, it held up to the memory but still tasted like a box mix with jell-o in it. It would've been pretty damaging to my ego if I'd actually liked it better than my own scratch recipes.
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
 
One of my favorite chef stories comes from a pastry chef that I used to work under.  He used to be the Assistant Pastry Chef at a large, well known hotel in Washington D.C.  A family had booked a very high-end wedding there.  The expected cost of the cake alone was going to be thousands and thousands of dollars.  As such, they offered to do cake tastings for the bride, the mother, etc.  Well, first tasting and the mother thought all the cakes were dry and tasteless.  Second tasting and the mother thought all the cakes were still dry and tasteless.  Remember these are pastry chefs with years and years of experience, making everything from scratch.  Third tasting; the same thing.  Finally on the 4th tasting they put in 2 samples from those "pudding in the mix" cake mixes.  Guess which one the mother chose?
That scenario played out in a restaurant I was Chef at.

Made Italian Country gravy from scratch, and a customer commented that it was too bad the Chef uses canned spaghetti sauce.
 

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