Culinary School Update: Part Two

Spoiler alert: this post is ridiculously long. Even for my verbose self. Here’s a cupcake for the journey…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

This is…an update of sorts. How do I cram everything we have covered in the past 3 weeks into 823 words? Since we last talked we’ve breezed through 18 pies and tarts, 10 recipes with pâte à choux and 15 recipes with pâte feuilletée (puff pastry); we’ve had 3 practical exams; and I have washed more dishes than altogether reasonable.

And I love it. LOVE.

[Not the dishes. I hate washing dishes.]

Culinary School Update: Part Two

Culinary school is more intense and physically and emotionally demanding than I could have ever imagined. I was not prepared for this. I’m not sure how I could have prepared for this.

I spend from 8:30 to 2:30 in constant motion; my brain is running on mach 10 to keep track of each an every component, to remain ahead, to not burn anything (including myself) and to learn as much as possible during the chef’s demos. And then school ends and I am somehow wired and exhausted all at the same time.

But I force myself to go to the gym because somebody ate too many pâte à choux and puff pastry. I don’t know who…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

And then there is this City. It has leaked into my bones.

That might be the cold. Nevermind.

I LOVE being here. I love the bone-chilling walk to the subway each morning, the rush of people, the energy that emanates from every corner, and the possibilities. It makes me feel that I can work harder, do more, push for better.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

So what have I actually been making?

How much time do you have? Or tolerance for looking at sinfully delicious treats that you can’t have?

Tarts and Pies rocked my world. The number and complexity of the fillings and decorations made them more challenging than anything else we’ve made.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

My new partner and I worked with surgical precision: organizing and executing the 3-4 pies/tarts that we made each day with the speed and coordination of Le Tour de France. We were a tour de force.

I mean if I do say so myself…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

So I thought tarts and pies were my favorite until we got to pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). I cannot resist the flakey buttery goodness that is puff pastry. You fill that with some almond cream or frangipane and I lose all sense of reason.

I haven’t seen my self-control (or waistline) in weeks!

Puff and I…we’re on a first name basis. So in love.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

These Sacristans are basically strips of puff pastry rolled up with sugar, chopped almonds and more sugar (what did I tell you yesterday? #sugarallthethings), and they are one of the most addicting sweets that I have ever had.

Like EVER. I ate 10 before we even left class. And then I took one of chef’s (thank you Chef Jürgen!). And then I had to taste test some of my partner’s (Thank you, Chiara!).
Just to be sure. I am here to learn after all!

Culinary School Update: Part Two

And this Gâteau Pithivier? Shut the front door. So good. Buttery, flakey Puff wrapped around frangipane, which is almond cream mixed with pastry cream. So sinfully delicious.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

But my absolute favorites were the Conversations (top right above). Adorable little Puff tartlettes filled with almond cream, topped with more buttery Puff, and then covered with royal icing. In the oven the royal icing hardens and becomes a sugary sweet crunchy topping that compliments the creamy almond filling and flakey buttery pastry.

I have a weakness for almond cream. Can you tell?

And the little Tartes aux Poires en Cages (bottom pictures above). Can you even stand the cuteness?


I have had Tarte Tatin; I have had Tarte Tatin in Paris.

I hated it. Mushy flavorless apples on a non-descript pastry base. Bleh.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

That is not this Tarte Tatin. Nope. The one we made has flambéed caramelized apple halves that are baked under a magical puff pastry crust. And it is mind-blowingly delicious. Caramel, apples, brandy, buttery flakey Puff. You get the picture…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

I suppose I shouldn’t skip pâte à choux entirely but I’m kind of Meh on it. There were practically riots in the women’s locker room when I voiced this strangely unpopular opinion, but there, I’ve said it. Meh.

If you like éclairs more than life itself (you know who you are…Chiara), then I apologize, but the dough is flavorless and the combination of creamy cold inside and puffy outside just isn’t my thang.

Oh! Except the filling for the Paris-Brest! Think of it like Nutella on crack. It is creamy and flavorful and I could not stop eating it. I almost piped it straight into my mouth. But I refrained because I’m a lady. Bad Lindsey. Bad!

Culinary School Update: Part Two

To top it all off I got to meet Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Isreal. Ben-Isreal is a graduate of the ICC and Jacques Torres is the Pastry Dean. Both AH-mazing.

Are you still with me? I can’t possibly cover everything in one post, so to see what I make each day and just follow along on my adventure, follow me on Instagram.


    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you, Thao! I’m just not trying to savor so much that it lingers forever on my hips, you know what I mean?! 😉

  1. says

    Somehow I missed the fact that you were even going to culinary school?! I haven’t been around here in FOREVER! Seriously though, girl! I freaking LOVE this post! It’s really really helpful for me to see all of this, because I’m starting culinary school in August! Are you getting a degree in pastry or all-around culinary? JW.
    Anywho, congrats on all you’ve accomplished so far, Lindsey! Everything you’ve got here is literally making me drool.
    Oh, and puff pastry FOR LIFE! 🙂
    Sarah@ Whole and Heavenly Oven recently posted…Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie CasseroleMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      That is so exciting that you are starting in August! Where are you going? Are you doing culinary or pastry? I am getting a degree in just pastry. I’m so glad my post helped someone 🙂 You are going to be amazing though, I just know it!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      There is something about a lattice top that just makes the dish look super impressive! Torres was definitely a highlight! Like a major highlight!

  2. says

    Lindsey, I wish I could just sit down and talk to you about all of this — I felt the same emotions about culinary school. It was so demanding, invigorating, and I had so much pressure on myself not to fail. The puff pastry unit was one of my favorites, and I had no idea I would love it so much! Making it is easier than I ever would’ve guessed, and I need to do it here at home soon…nice reminder here! I am a huge pate a choux lover, but I won’t hold that against you. haha Everything you’ve made looks beyond amazing and beautiful, and meeting those culinary icons must’ve been a dream come true! I loved reading every word here, and I’m glad you’re enjoying your experience! 🙂
    marcie recently posted…Roasted Beet Citrus Salad with Blood Orange VinaigretteMy Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thank you for being one of my oldest readers, Aunt Susan! I’m so happy to know you are following along! Love you! (And I need to come up to visit soon!)

  3. says

    Loved reading this and thinking about you having so much fun. My only concern is that your future blog posts will beyond my ability to execute. I made your pot roast last week and enjoyed it for three nights. Yummm

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Don’t worry about that, Josephine! First of all, you have skills and second, I will make everything seem easy! Mmmm pot roast. That reminds me to make that again!

  4. says

    Oh, girl! I love, love, LOVE this post! Thank you so much for taking the time to document everything…all the photos, the stories, the humor and uploading everything into one incredible post to share with us. You ROCK! Of course, my favorite photos are of you and Chefs Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Isreal. Everything looks divine! Although I love all pastry, I must agree with you…PUFF rules! There is just no comparing the contrast of buttery, layered, crunchy goodness with creamy and absolutely sublime fillings! Thanks again for sharing, Linds. I’m wishing you every success in the coming weeks and look forward to part three! xo
    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen recently posted…For The Ultimate Detox: The Detox Miracle Sourcebook {review}My Profile

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I knew we were bff for a reason, Stacy! Puff forever! Thanks for reading and just being generally amazing! xoxox

  5. says

    I absolutely loved reading this update! I am so proud of you and can only imagine how intense but yet incredibly satisfying each class is. You are rocking it girl and I am seriously drooling over each and every one of these deserts here! Yay for puff pastry! So so cool that you got to meet Chef Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Israel. Now I am totally the one that #jealous haha 🙂

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks so much, kelly! Meeting them was incredible! I am trying to make the most of school and being here but, quite frankly, I’m exhausted! xox

  6. says

    Wow, what a marvelous baking journey you’re on! Every treat in your photos looks exquisite!! I wish I could sample them all!!!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Thanks, Liz! I’m doing the best I can with my iPhone, overhead lighting and a phone that dies after 3 minutes! lol

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      I do see it kind of like a mini journal! I’ve had every intention of keeping an actual journal but where is the time!??!

  7. says

    Wait – you said this review was too long…but I want MORE!!!!
    Such a wonderful recap – I didn’t think I even liked puff pastry till I “Ate” it through your words – and pictures! Those Conversations do sound spectacular! And That Paris-Brest – good gawwwwsh! So glad and jealous you got to meet Jacques Torres!!! And I cannot wait for Culinary School Part 3 – but, you better shoot for a long post for real next time!

    • AmericanCooking22 says

      Aww thanks, Shashi! Anyone who thinks they don’t like puff pastry has never had the real deal. I am fully convinced. Unless they don’t like sweet buttery things, in which case we cannot be friends! 🙂

  8. says

    What an amazing experience and I think I gained 5 pounds just looking at those pictures! Can’t wait for your next update!
    [email protected] recently posted…Banana Pudding CheesecakeMy Profile

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