Back in the day, there was changing culinary trends. It always seemed to hit the Garde Manger Chef, especially with banquets. I remember the few yrs. I spent in the Big Apple working at a large property in the city with banquet #'s in the thousands. For a while, catering would throw dozens of ice carvings at GM. Some weekends we would have 5-6 functions that required 6-10 pieces each. Then the trend changed to personalized ice carvings with photos inside the block and ice bars to hold champagne or vodka. Ice wine racks. GM had one carver and himself. Every time I took the elevator down and the door opened, those poor guys were always there carving.
Chaud froid, aspic, melon carving was one thing, but when they started with the tallow carvings things got nuts. Clients would send in family statues for the poor chef to copy. The Garde Mangers' ice carver was an older Asian man, He was just a natural sculpture. He did some fantastic pieces. Of course sales loved the compliments from customers and just overwhelmed these poor guys. The Chef would have these statues and carvings line up in the office. It got so bad the Garde Man. Chef asked if I could help him. I said sure. My things usually never changed. From day one, I would go and give the sales people an a-- chewing if they went outside the box. I just had the usual plated/sauced dessert.. Mignardises & chocolates platter and a sugar centerpiece for each table.
I had done plenty of tallow before I moved there. I'm sure you old farts, chefross/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif, Kuan, know this. I got with the GMChef , who did not know , and I showed him how to make molds with the sculptures he had out of aspic. For those who don't know, you place the sculpture in a large enough container with straight sides. You then bring up some aspic using 8x the amount of dry aspic with the normal amount of water for 1x. When it sets up like a superball, remove from container, and cut the aspic around the piece to separate it in two parts making a negative. Then put the mold together and secure with saran wrap ropes and turn up side down to expose the hole made by the bottom of the sculpture. Melt down some tallow, we always use Australian white, Let it cool a while and pour into the mold. When the tallow sets, you untie, carefully separate the mold and remove the tallow piece. Then just detail it so that it looks hand carved. Simple. You can make multiple molds. The Asian man was completely amazed. He had the biggest smile for 24 hrs. I learned the aspic thing while over in France and Switzerland, they used chocolate instead. Do it in a quasi private place and it never shows. No mold making materials purchased. Just a little increase in dry aspic.