Zach had hoped for us to meet pastry chef Andrea Meyer at the Chandler event but as Andrea had just opened her new patisserie, Bisous Bisous, a few days before so was unable to attend. Instead, Zach drove us over to meet her. Andrea gave us a tour of her kitchen, where we met one of her assistants, Molly Wilkinson who was making a tray of macarrons. Molly had recently returned from studying at the Cordon Blue in Paris and we were charmed by her enthusiasm and love of baking. It turned out that coincidentally; Molly's mother was planning to attend the Chandler event. Andrea recounted how she and her husband had moved temporarily to California to do a stage at Bouchon Bakery in Napa, and we envied her the experience of working with Thomas Keller. We then picked out a selection of Andrea's wonderful pastries to enjoy outside of her shop. Dallas is so lucky to have this exquisite place. The croissants were among the best I've ever experienced. In the afternoon, we arrived at Chandler's where she and Hedda Gioia Dowd, co-owner of Rise restaurant, arranged trays of hors d'oeuvres and champagne for guests to enjoy on their arrival before the demo. We were delighted finally to meet Joan Wade, who baked through Rose's Heavenly Cakes with the Heavenly Bakers; was part of the Beta Bakers testing team for The Baking Bible; and now is an Alpha Baker for our Baking Bible bake through group. Joan came all the way from Houston for both the Chandler Event and the Rise event the following day. Orin Lagbas, who just joined the Alpha Bakers a few weeks ago, came to see us and brought her future mother-in-law as well. To start the event, Zach asked each of the 23 people present to introduce ourselves and talk about our baking experience. We were charmed to discover that Chandler's daughter Chandler, who is a veterinarian, was part of our group. The only male presence other than Zach and Woody was the charming chef Cherif Brahmi, co-owner of Rise Restaurant. We then moved to kitchen for my demonstration on making the The Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies and my tips on baking. I also gave the history of creating the Deep Passion Chocolate Cake and the Wicked Good Ganache as Zach and Woody served slices to the attendees. When the meringue cookies had cooled after baking, Woody mounded dulce de leche ice cream on each as a second treat for our appreciative guests. The final act was signing all the books and enjoying more conversation. Connie Akins Mullins, chef and kitchen equipment consultant for Pirch's Dallas showroom, brought take home packages of her German Chocolate Cake. At the risk of sounding superlative about everything, please trust me when I say that this was the best I've ever tasted. Connie also encouraged us to come for a tour of her store the next day. We signed everyone's book along with more stories and conversation with our many new friends. We asked Chandler to join us at Rise for dinner but she had eaten so much of the desserts she was no longer hungry!
Hedda then treated Zach, Woody, and me to an eagerly awaited dinner of soufflés at her Rise restaurant. Hedda is responsible for the incredibly creative décor. Several of Rise's reserved tables are wooden school desks topped with Scrabble game letter racks that have the name of each guest spelled out with Scrabble letters. Our Baking Bible was also part of our table area's décor. Soufflés are Rise's forte and executed in most every way imaginable. Woody and I shared my top favorite: an Escargot Soufflé. We also enjoyed splitting a special for the night, Crawfish Soufflé. For dessert, we all enjoyed another special soufflé of the evening: Bananas Foster.