Two cups of flower, a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of sugar might be all you need for some baked goods. But what’s the perfect recipe for a pastry chef?
For most people, becoming part of the restaurant business is a mere dream but for chef Tiffani Faison, owner of Sweet Cheeks Q on Fenway and second runner up for the first season of “Top Chef”, this dream is a reality. Of course, with her busy schedule, I was unable to interview this amazing cook but others were able to share their thoughts.
“I love Sweet Cheeks and the biscuits are exceptional. Especially when they’re right out of the oven and they’re nice and warm. They’re flaky and buttery and melt in your mouth delicious,” said Isabel Munoz, Hill Holliday advertising employee and Fenway resident. There was no hesitation in Munoz’s comment about the biscuits; she was especially excited to talk about those. “Oh, and that butter!” Munoz added, “It’s simply to die for. Literally makes the entire experience of eating the biscuit unforgettable. It’s a good thing they come in a big bucket.”
Sweet Cheeks’ portions are abundant. Instead of the traditional plate this restaurant uses trays. Yes, trays. Southern food is messy and extreme in portions and Sweet Cheeks does nothing but pay tribute to southern comfort.
But the size of the plates is the least of worries of a hungry customer; it’s the biscuits they want. Freshly made butter biscuits served with a side of hand whipped honey butter served by the bucket. Every day, Chef Faison makes batched and trays of biscuits, which are simply too good for take out.
“The other day, I called to place an order but just of biscuits. Yes, they’re that good,” said Fenway resident and frequent Sweet Cheeks consumer, Amy Anastasia.
Unfortunately, Anastasia wasn’t able to place her order for what the hostess explained was “’insufficient amounts of biscuits’”. “Apparently, they only make enough for the afternoon seating because they’re that fresh – they simply don’t make big batches,” said Anastasia.
But I’m sure you’re still itching to find out what exactly it takes to become a pastry chef. Well, for starters, you need a formal education. According to FohBoh The Restaurant Network a business networking and social media site for restaurants, a pastry chef must have talent and a genuine love for cooking but there must also be some sort of formal training. And this is where a collegiate education comes in.
Schools like Le Cordon Bleu and Johnson and Wales have dramatically increased in applicants making them have to expand their campus radius and locations. Le Cordon Bleu, an internationally known hospitality and culinary school, originated in France in 1895. Now, according to the schools website, this worldly institution has 35 schools in five continents.
Johnson and Wales, originally founded as a strict business school, expanded into the culinary arts in 1973. Statistics from the university indicate that today there are five campuses ranging from Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and their largest in Providence, Rhode Island.
So, being talented and possessing the love for cooking is not enough. Other than these qualities there are more specific ones that an education can provide the maybe not-so-talented candidate. Being innovative and creative are musts for the cutthroat pastry business but most importantly attention to detail.
Bonnie Falbowsky Suh, an independent catering chef from Colchester, Connecticut and Southern New Hampshire University alumna, said, “When I went to culinary school I had to learn pastry techniques and let me tell you they are hard. There is so much to learn and with technology evolving so quickly pastry gadgets become more and more ambitious.
Not only is the technology advancing by the second but also understanding the responsibilities of the craft can take a toll on anyone. “Having stamina and strength are probably the most important qualities of a chef,” said Falbowsky. “The hours are long and the dedication has to be there at all time.”
Munoz, although not a part of the culinary field, said, “In my opinion a pastry chef needs to know how his pastries will relate well to the rest of the food in a restaurant in order to make it all work. And Sweet Cheeks definitely knows how to do this.” She added, “Their biscuits are the perfect compliment to BBQ food.”
Now that you know the starting point of pastry chef knowledge, let’s get back to the good stuff: warm flaky biscuits that melt in your mouth. A golden top and moist center is all you need to make all your problems go away.
“Eating these biscuits are like eating a slice of heaven but the butter is even better.” It’s like the perfect balance of sweet,” said Robert Suh, Lasell College lacrosse assistant coach. “The honey butter and biscuit combination is like having a biscuit with butter and homemade jam.
“I used to live in North Carolina, where southern food is their thing,” said Andrew Suh, brother of Robert Suh and student of Lasell College, from across the table. “This palace comes pretty close.”