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New Pastry Chef, graduated 2013

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello, my names Annie just became a pastry chef this past month and i'm so excited for the opportunity. I've been working as a prep/line cook for the past 3 years but have been in the restaurant business for 5 years. With that said I have gotten the opportunity to be a pastry chef at a small french bakery/patisserie/boulangerie and wow talk about a treat! I recieved my very own kitchen and am now responsible for all the duties inside it including all cleaning. 


I'd like to ask all of you for any advice/tips/help on keeping this place running! Ive asked for some help on my twitter account and received very little responses and hope i could have better luck here. 


Especially on these few things

-Cleaning sheet pans . . . all of mine are just horrible they leave black smudges all over your hands after handling even for a second.



-managing a dry storage... i don't have any proper tupperware just gallon bags and leftover containers from jams, cherries and pickles. <should i use this stuff for storage?) The pictures below were taken 2 weeks ago, since then i've used all my jam buckets to store bulk items such as white chocolate, cinnamon and crystal sugar. It's not pictured but on the right side the whole bottom shelf is now more organized and i've thrown/put away a lot of that nonsense i'll post an update on that but still could seriously use some ideas. 



-managing equipment . . . especially all my baking gear, i have maybe 13-15 cake pans/rings, bowls of all different sizes, and a large rectangular aluminum pan (turkey pan) that holds all my whisks, spoons, spatulas... not happy about this for sanitation reasons, any low cost suggestions on how to make a pot hanger or... some sort of suspension rig? 


And basically any form of advice would help out... I've been cooking and have decided learn about the pastry side now but have come to realize that i'm not getting any proper training from my boss/owner. He's just giving me recipes... and acts like he hardly has time to show me examples. I've tried and failed at a couple things and have mastered it maybe after the 3rd time, (a few things after the 4th) but man is it tricky getting this science done! Luckily now i have managed to master most of our main items and am slowly learning new things weekly. 


The photos below are horrible but this was the condition the kitchen was given to me, i've since then have picked it up a lot and have scrubbed those floors, all work benches and dry storage. 







post #2 of 8

First  all pans and pots should be stored upside down under the work table. The storage you do have organize better.  If you have a walk in fridge some bowls and pans can be sored in there.

Get a rubber mat and stand on it for your feet sake


Good Luck to you.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...


Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

post #3 of 8
Do you have a dishwasher? Those sheet pans should be getting WASHED
post #4 of 8

All in all, it's not a bad pastry kitchen, all the neccessary equipment is there, just needs a good bath and it's armpits shaved, that's all.


Sheetpans: Most metals--with the exception of pure gold and stainless steel will rust, tarnish, or oxidize.  Aluminum will oxidize, and that sticky black crud that ends up on your hands and on countertops and speed rack shelves is aluminum oxide.  There are a few ways to deal with this:


First is wash the sheet pans is plenty of hot water with a s/s steel scrubbie, take about 5 mins per pan.  After that, after every bake,-regardless if you use paper liners or not, take a cardboard box top and using it like a squeegee, scrape off any oil/grease/ crud from the pans, wash if neccessary.  After your initial wash, see if you can negotiate with the boss to get a dishwasher-person to manually scrub the pans once a week.


Another option is to get the pans treated with a non-stick glaze.  This is a food-grade clear glaze used on baking pans and loaf/muffin pans, etc.  The glaze will prevent aluminum oxide from forming on the pans, and is a kick-azz non-stick glaze.  The good news is that this glaze can be applied to anything, and at any age, and it is under 2 bucks per pan.  The bad news is that you will have to provide transport of the items to and from the glazing plant, and learn to live without the items for a few days while being treated.  The glaze only lasts for a few months, and the wear is accelerated with sugar rich and fat rich baking items.


Shelving: The wire grid shelving for clean utensil storage is good, you need the open grid to promote air circulation, but it is downright lousy for storing ingredients on. Once you spill crud on the wire grid you'll know how hard it is to clean compared to a smooth, hard surface.  If you can negotiate trading the wire grid shelving for solid shelving with the boss, great. If you can't I suggest laying down cardboard on the shelving, and changing it once it gets grotty.  This is more important under your workstation where spills are highly likely to happen, than it is in the dry storage area.


By the way, those wire shelves laying directly on the floor in your pic are a big no-no, nothing below 6" off the floor.  Equipment and/or ingredients can gete contaminated with "floor spice", mop water, etc.  See if you can get some 2 x 4 blocks about 6" high and prop a block under each corner of the shelf to get it off the floor.


Ingredient storage. You can spend some serious coin on decent ingredient storage.  A Cambro ingredient bin on wheels--the kind that will take 2-- 25 lb bags of flour can cost as much as 350 bucks, and you have to beg pretty to your Boss  to get at least 3 of them.  Brand new garbage containers will work, although most health inspectors hate them.  I have found that Ikea sells white plastic bins with lids that stack, and will accept a 25 bag of flour/sugar.  What I do for most of my other ingredients like nuts, cocoa powder, other flours, etc, is get rubbermaid plastic bins with lids, the kind you see at Mal*Wart or Lowes.  These will usually accept 10 lbs of dry ingredients and stack nicely.  They can also be tossed into the d/washer when they get grotty.  A word of warning about chocolate. chocolate, like all fat rich ingredients, will absorb odours--quickly.  If you store it in a bucket that had strawberry jam in it last, it will take on a strawberry jam flavour..


Cake rings, etc.  One of the cheapest and most practical fixes for cake rings or anything that can be hung up, is to get a length of 2 x 4, drill some holes abut 8" apart at a slight angle and glue in about 6" lengths of broomstick handle or 3/4 wood dowel into the holes.  Paint it, and stick it up on the wall.  You can get at least 6 rings per dowel/broomstick "hanger" as well as Hobart wire whisks.  DO NOT hang Hobart flat beaters or dough hooks from the wall, they are made of cast aluminum, and if they fall they will crack and break.


Hope this helps...

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for all the information. 

I am going to beg my heart out for a budget to get some new containers, i did not know about chocolate absorbing odors, and this concerns me since the most since we use it regularly. 

I really enjoy the idea for the cake rings, it sounds low cost too, hopefully i'll be able to convince my boss about that. 

And you're absolutely right about the table with the attachments being too low, i've noticed that but you opened my eyes about seriously storing these in a different area. That table surface used to support the equipment is cracked and leaning too low on one side so hopefully I can get that fixed as well. 

Everything you said is super useful, time to get back in that kitchen now. I'll post an update soon 

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

No we currently don't i'm responsible for all the cleaning duties for now, seriously am going to talk to my boss about hiring someone to come in once a week. The sheet pans are ridiculous. 

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you, yes the rubber mats I have are filthy, need to clean those just don't have a proper hose at the moment but am thinking of scrubbing them and rinsing them with a bucket. Our draining system is poor to say the least, so i'll be making a huge mess to clean if you know what i mean. 

post #8 of 8
Hi Annie!
Congrats on the job!
About the practice runs on the recipes.
I hope the owner realizes he is shooting himself in the foot with all that no training nonsense.
Food costs are through the roof so be careful and maintain a running tally on any duds.
Another thing.... are those tried and true customer approved recipes he handed you?
Watch a lot of YouTube for any skills you may be weak on and then try (the recipes) a couple of times each and then either tweak or trash.
Your continued failures may be nothing more than poorly written and developed formulas.
Pick up a good book about baking percentages.
Will become your baking bible.
Great for developing you own recipes as well.

OBTW... welcome to Chef Talk!
Any problems you encounter do not hesitate to ask.
On the most part the members are generous with both their time and talent licklips.gif

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