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What's your best dessert?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I'm not really asking that question, I'm asking you how you answer that question at a job interview. If your a pastry chef when you interview for a job, that seems to be one of the questions the interviewer always asks you.

Why over think this question? Personally I don't have 1 favorite dessert (I really think it's a dumb question to ask a pro). I have a favorite recipe for tons of items....but one item to pick out of a crowded recipe file, I can't!

Do they want me to say something classic, creative, retro, do I describe a sky scraper dessert on a painted plate with balancing cones or some new crazy combo to show how procressively wild I can think....it's like guessing a number between 1 and 1000, I don't know what they want me to pick.

My answer is "my favorite dessert is the one the customer loves". But when I've said that I didn't think my interviewers liked my answer (last time around between jobs) even with some further explaination. It's not evasive, it's the truth, that's what I love to do, please my customers! Everyone has different tastes..........

So now that I'm between jobs again and I'm thinking about those interview questions this time around I'd like to know how you handle that question? Or if you were the interviewer what would you want to hear from me?

P.S. Another thing I've had asked from me is for is a tasting (although it never happened). Well that's loaded too (at least in my mind)! How do you compare 3 pastry chefs with a tasting? You can't, unless you hand all of them the same recipes and let them all work with the same equipment and time them from start to finish. Timing them isn't really fair either in a new enviroment. But the interviewer isn't going to run their tasting that way. No, they'll just ask you all to bring something in. Which again brings you back to desiding what your perfect dessert is. But aren't you guessing what the interviewers favorite is actually?

So what would you do? And what do you want to hear and taste if your the interviewer?
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #2 of 21
I agree, it's a terrible question, but I get asked that a lot too. If it's just Joe Shmo asking, I usually make up an equally vague answer.

I think people are trying to figure out what your specialty is by asking that question. In the case of interviewers, I think I might tell them that the ones that sell are the best, BUT my favorite thing to make is_______ (something more unique). That way you kill 2 birds with one stone.
post #3 of 21
Could it be that the interviewer just wants to know what's your strong point?

Where are your skills?

Is it working with chocolate or with puff pastry...bavarian creams, etc. etc. Bite size items or large items, that type of thing?

Just a thought Wendy.

:rolleyes:

Psssssst Momo: I think we were on the same frequency. Maybe I should have read yours before posting my reply... :eek:

[ August 31, 2001: Message edited by: Kimmie ]
K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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K

«Money talks. Chocolate sings. Beautifully.»
«Just Give Me Chocolate and Nobody Gets Hurt.»
«Coffee, Chocolate, Men ... Some things are just better rich.»
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post #4 of 21
Many times its not the answer to the question that is important it's how the question is answered.

When I am interviewing and I ask a question like "How do you figure food cost?", I am looking for the one right answer, but when I ask what is your specialty(the question I always hate for the same reasons already mentioned), I'm not looking for "My cooking is stylized after the cuisine of Lyon." way to limited. I'm looking to see if the interviewee has a philosophy about what they do.


When asked the question, 'What is your specialty?', my pat answer was, "I really get excited when I use European techniques to translate everyday fare into something different yet familiar to the guest."

I'd never ask for a tasting of a pastry chefs wares, not because of the reasons stated but because it's to limit a sample. I'd ask for specific techniques and/or ratios for some basic items. If the operation asked for it I might ask the candidate to do a try for a day to see how they fit in.

Back to the question; If I asked a pastry chef what their favorite dessert was, I would want to hear what gets them excited. I definitely wouldn't want to hear something that is limiting, like, "I love sabayon, I put sabayon on everything."
post #5 of 21
Really, it depends on the style of the place, but I would do something classical and familiar, with an obvious twist. Like a cobbler, but with a Turkish yufka dough, made into some kind of funky shape. Or a mini bombe of vanilla ice cream, toasted brazil nuts and chocolate. So they get some of the familiar, and something new.

You wouldn't want them thinking you're totally insane until after you get the job!! ;)

Hmmm.... what would be my ideal dessert? Tiramisu.

Just kidding.

How 'bout warm apple crepes, green apple granita, honey glazed apple chips, and calvados syrup. They'll get to see how multi faceted one ingredient can be.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
Actually I haven't ever been asked that by a chef (where a more peer related conversation could take place). It's the GM that asks it and it's pretty rare for a GM to know much about baking (cooking yes)to judge how challenging or interesting my pastry choice might be. Truthfully, I don't like being judged so quickly by such a question. It's one thing when joe blow off the street asks and you give him a simple equally dumb answer back. But when I want the job and that's my question I don't want to treat my answer the same way.

My mind says: let's state the job, we want to to make xyz, can you make those items skillfully and tastefully? My answer is yes or no, qualify me or show me the door. Lets' not pretend you understand more than you do and I won't pretend I know more than I do. But of course you could never say those nasty thoughts. I can't concieve of applying for a job you can't do, they'll find out pretty quickly.

Maybe it's a superfical question just to see "how the question is answered" like you mentioned blanchtoque explain my philosophy and show enthusisim. I think I breath enthusisim for desserts, heck my fat stomach is a testiment to that fact.

"Answer it with my strong points or skills"....will the GM get it? Or does he just love eclairs and want to know if I can make those? I think quite frankly the GM just wants to know if I can make his favorite dessert. Can you ask the guy what he likes and then come back with your recipe and how you like to make it? Or will that piss him off?

If I tell him I can do most of lastest techinques in the top pastry books will he understand that answer?

My strongest area I'll attempt to show him with photos and if he gives me the chance, explain what the items are in the photos (cause many items are hard to figure out even for another pastry chef). But I'm not that superfical, the taste comes first and last, the looks are just the fat girl singing and showing off.

I agree with your thoughts, their clear and simple, perhaps I worry too much (da), but this is just a private question shared with people I know will understand and I won't be so dirrect with my interviewer.

But lastly the question is "what is the perfect dessert to show your style and abilities by?".


What would your 1 dessert be? and WHY?
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #7 of 21
To know how to answer a this question, or any other question for that matter ask yourself what information the interviewer wants to learn about you with this question.

In this case he wants to know not only your preference and gauge the range of your repertoire. I could be wrong here though. Even if I'm wrong you can use this question to showcase your vast repertoire and knowledge.

In any case I would give him an answer that covers more territory. I love to make ... and ... but my favourite dessert to eat is ... (fill in the blank)

You could also give a seasonal answer. I love summer because of the abundance of fresh fruits. Love to make ... and ... in summer. Autumn is great for …... and winter conjure images of ...
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #8 of 21
I have to agree with blanchtoque, a very generic question. I think the answer would be along the lines of flavor,style,flair. What style do you stand out. Classical traditions with an upscale american presentation,etc.
I would not interperate the question as any one item. If that be the case than Frozen Twinkies for me.
If I do send someone into the kitchen cold and ask them to produce something, I'm not looking at the product at all. I looking to see how well they handle themselves. Time frame not important. Seeking out the tools and ingredients themselves, tells me alot. Asking, where is the scale? where is the flour? etc, tell me a lot. Just how one stands at the bench tells me volumns.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #9 of 21
Let's not forget that an interview is also a time to find out if your want to work at a place.

If the GM is doing the hiring, how does the chef feel about it? Is it something she is going to resent?

If the interviewer ask silly questions that show they really don't know what there talking about, how will that affect your work after your employed there.

If your skew your answers to what you think they want to hear aren't you missing a chance for a true fit for your skills.
post #10 of 21
I agree with Jeff and Blanchtoque. I'm glad you admitted to the twinkies, Jeff, because I just love Baskin Robbins ice-cream and Twix.
I've never really given this question a serious thought since I wasn't asked by my former interviewers. It was more along the lines of "Can you make ...?". Maybe that's the difference in interviewing for a bakery as opposed to a restaurant?
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Well having the GM being the one to hire is wrong and I'm sure it plays into feelings of not being apart of the chefs team (BOY, I've experienced before). BUT that's how it works in clubs, you send your resume' to the GM they deside if they want to have a pastry chef or not, then they pass on your resume to the chef. Going directly to the chef gets you know where. When interviewing the chef asks you qualifing questions but like in my last job, the chefs part of the interview was a joke it just highlighted the fact he knew nothing about baking to me. It's very rare to have a head chef that knows any thing about baking in clubs.

The whole process and how they set up kitchens for pastry chefs to answer to head chefs is wrong and flawed! The system is created by head chefs and GMs, neither ever take into perspective the pastry chefs position (neither have ever been there to have personal experience). You get hired by the GM but your not a dept. head, your one of the chefs kitchen people, but the chef doesn't cover you!

It's not like theres another option, there are VERY VERY few pastry chef jobs out there. If you ran from all the bad interviews there wouldn't be very many working pastry chefs.

Old & Wise and Angry, you have to pick something you make....whats your favorite? What sounds inteligent, not arrogant and is something they would understand and agree with?
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #12 of 21
So glad to see someone else who loves miniature AC. I find it so relaxing to make miniature cake or tart.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #13 of 21
Very tough to pick one thing I enjoy making...but for plated desserts I think I will say my specialty is sampler plates. Miniature versions of classic and not so classic desserts. I like the concept of having the customer enjoy some fruit, chocolate, caramel and coffeee flavors, different textures, etc. I also make these customized fondant covered handpainted cookies that no one else does around here, and we really "wow" people when we do film screenings and wrap/theme parties.
post #14 of 21
I realise I'm speaking as a non-professional cooking person here, but wouldn't the best technique be pretty much the same one that's recommended for any other job interview? That is - prepare ahead of time by knowing as much as you can about the establishment, so that you know what you can offer your prospective employer with your unique combination of training, experience and flair.

Unless the place is not yet open, it should be easy enough to look at their menus, and maybe some reviews and so forth, before the interview. Then you'll know what their general style is and have an idea of their likely clientele, and you can tailor your answer to that. Pick something that would appeal to that market, give it a zingy half-twist of your own to show you're thinking outside the box, and go with it.
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Dana, any chance in the world I could talk you into sharing more about what your doing to make those fondant covered cookies??????

"Painted on" (my little artists brain is really peeked and my heart is beating faster) really has me begging for info., PLEASE..........? Sounds really neat!
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #16 of 21
Well, I must admit that I truly love doing miniatures, old fashioned petit fours,short dough, rasp,frangiapan topped with marzipan,topped with fondant. I really enjoy doing all the classical chocolate drop work. I love to match the centerpiece to the dessert. We did a very upscale party two weeks ago. One of the guests brought wine from Europe and South Africa back with him.I made three miniature pastry trays. The centerpieces were, small chocolate wine press,marzipan grapes. A blown sugar wine split. A poured abstract sugar piece. It was one of the best evenings I have had all year. It was a charity thing so we got to enjoy our work with the guests.
FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 
I HATE making classic petite fours...when we were busy that was the item I always asked if we could buy out to suppliment my work. I just can't hit my fondant correctly, I'm like an idiot with fondant! Plus, mine never set nice, it would remain rather tacky to the touch (unlike the ones we purchased). Think I'm doing something wrong? I tried different brands and got frustrated with several. I was using simple syrup to thin, two coatings to cover...can you tell me anything you do to simplify the fondant process (do you freeze your cakes before coating?)??? Do yours remain tacky or can you touch your coating and not leave obvious finger prints?


I also love following a theme and doing centerpiece cakes, Jeff. That was my favorite part of my job!

But, I still don't have a favorite dessert. I'm not one to be politicly correct and go safe....I guess I'm stuck answering it the way I always have....it's what the client loves that turns me on and makes me strive to make it great for them. but I won't phrase it like that!

Now that you know I'm an idoit with fondant...your safe to tell me how you coat your cookies Dana, I'm a total dork with the stuff????? Just a little hint, PEASE, BEG, BEG, BEG...........? ;)
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #18 of 21
Wendy, the general idea for the cookies: use any shape of sugar cookies( a 1-2-3 dough works well), dip only the top surface in the fondant(which you can color any shade you want, I use an airbrush system) and then let dry for an hour so you can paint. You really can paint anything. I do a lot of animals; so you paint on the eyes, nose, mouth, tail and any distinctive markings then let dry overnight so the fondant hardens and then you can pack the cookies one on top of the other. I use purchased fondant which I thin with water(i've never used simple syrup, heck, the fondant is too sweet as is) after it is warmed. Warm the fondant only to body temp.(test on upper lip or wrist), it gets a funky finish if it is too hot. For painting I use regular slim brushes and food coloring paste which I thin a bit with water.
post #19 of 21
Thread Starter 
Is that what I'm doing wrong, using simple syrup? I use purchased fondant too....I know I read somewhere to use simple syrup (I think I got that from Friebergs book), now that's got me baffled... I get crazy watching my temp. because I can't figure out what's going wrong. So I know I'm not over heating for sure! Plus, you said it gets firm enough to stack them? OH MY, thats how purhased petite fours are, very durable, **** I wonder if that will fix my problems?!

I would never guess you could paint on pouring fondant! Wow, I can picture what your talking about with animal faces and patterns, that would be really neat. I can see why you wouldn't want to broadcast that, thanks for sharing!!!! How did you come across this method? Did you dream it up?
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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post #20 of 21
No, Wendy, there is nothing wrong with using simple syrup(in fact, I think most books say use simple syrup). I just prefer using water because it's easier, cheaper, been taught that way, and have been doing it for 5 years.The most important thing is that the cookies dry overnight. It dries to a nice shiny smooth icing, kinda like the royal icing cookies but with a shine. My old German boss employed this method for doing his holiday cookies, but with less detail. As I started doing it on my own, I'd get a little more creative and go more detailed.
By the way, email me so I can send you a picture of the mask: angrychef@earthlink.net
post #21 of 21
Thread Starter 
Have you ever noticed a difference in how your fondant works and sets with simple syrup vs. h2o? I was hoping that would be the answer for my failure in mastering fondant.

How thin do you make your fondant (for your cookies)...after you dip your cookies do you need to touch up/scrap off extra with a bent handle at all?
"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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"Bakers are born, not made. We are exacting people who delight in submitting ourselves to rules and formulas if it means achieving repeatable perfection", Rose Levy Beranbaum
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