Tokyo Table

Culinary Adventures at Le Cordon Bleu, Tokyo

Cuisine Chef or Pastry Chef – Who Am I?

I looked at today’s notes and Chef will be making two of my favorite foods, quiche and apple pie! So many things are familiar in this day, but I’m also hoping to learn a technique for something I’ve always struggled with: moving dough from the rolling surface to the pie plate.  I wonder what technique Chef will use and whether I can replicate it. 

I’m also looking forward to focusing more on organization, since the recipe itself should be familiar.  The last few days have been very rushed for time and I just can’t keep my dishes cleaned fast enough for the next steps.  During the demonstration Chef has an assistant to help him with dishes, but he’s also doing three recipes in the time it takes me to do one. 

Chef starts off the lesson explaining why we are doing pastry. He says that an Executive Chef is always the Chef de Cuisine.  He/she is in charge of the Pastry Chef, never the other way around.  And you need to know their world, how they think, and how they work.   That’s food for thought.  I wonder what he means.  How do pastry chefs work, think, and approach their jobs?   How is it different?  Am I more pastry chef than cuisine chef?  How do I know? 

Before I can really contemplate this, Chef is talking about fat and why it’s so delicious:  “… Fat absorbs flavor.  The more fat, the more flavor it can absorb…”  Egg yolk, cream and cheese, all ready and willing to absorb flavor and dispense it in each mouthful.  Yes, the reason Quiche Lorraine is so loved: it is completely filled with cream, eggs, cheese and bacon. 


I can’t wait to taste Chef’s quiche and then make my own tomorrow.  I’ve served quiche to my children for dinner since they could eat solid food. I’ve added various fillings but I’ve always tried to make it more on the light side by skipping the cheese and bacon and adding corn kernels or spinach.  I wonder if my children know it’s supposed to be served with cream, cheese and bacon?   Looks like the secret will soon be out!

The tastings are amazing and the quiche is all it should be: golden on top, soft but cooked on the inside, a crisp buttery crust and then the wonderful finishing taste of bacon.  My waistline is  glad that all we get is a tasting and not an entire slice.  It’s no wonder that Quiche Lorraine is  loved throughout the world! 

The apple tart is also a delight for the senses.  The crust, a sweet one, is crunchy and buttery while the diced apples are perfectly cooked.  The aroma of  vanilla, apple, sugar, and Calvados fills our senses and makes me long for the crisp, cool days of autumn. 


The next day in the practical, I’m still trying to understand what Chef means about pastry chefs being different.  As I start my crust, I get a little insight.  Pastry, at least dough, is very comforting for me.  You can’t rush it, and the long motions–rolling out dough and shaping things with your hands–are soothing. 

Though we must work quickly, it’s important to get it right.  A forgotten ingredient can’t be added later. Thankfully I’ve had years of experience in making dough, so today’s concern  was trying to get it onto the pie dish in one piece.  Chef showed a few techniques for this and I’ll share them with you: 

  • Tip one: don’t roll out the dough too thin. 
  • Tip two: make sure you’re flouring the top and underside of the dough as you’re rolling it into a circle. 
  • Tip three: trim it to a size large enough to cover the dish with a generous overlap. 
  • Tip four:  flour the dough on top and brush off prior to moving it. 
  • Final tip: loosely roll the dough on the rolling pin, move to the top of the pie dish and unroll it to let it cover.  This is called chemiser, which means to dress. 

With these tips in mind, I was able, for the first time, to dress my pie plate without cracks and breaks.  Thank you Cordon Bleu!!


The final technique for today’s lesson was crimping the edges.  This was easily accomplished with a tool called a pastry pincher.  All this time I’ve presented less-than-appealing pie crusts. Now they can look beautiful and professional.  I don’t know whether I’m a pastry chef or cuisine chef, but I do know that I can make quiche and apple pie!

3 Comment

    1. The photos on the top of each blog are stock photos – the ones inside the blogs are mine and the Cordon Bleu chefs. I will try to label those so you can see how amazing the master chef’s creations are. They really are amazing chefs!

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