Pastry Chef Jason Pitschke and His Fantastic Tart Tatin. Those of you who enjoyed the postings on the Nathan Fong/Michèl Chicoine Vancouver wedding cake will be interested to know a little more about the pastry chef Jason Pitschke who generously not only gave us an area in his kitchen in which to work, but also loaned us his special equipment, and most important of all, his expertise, especially when the raspberry ganache turned out less than silky smooth. Pastry chefs have to be artists, engineers, and often detectives. Jason quickly thought to ask me what percentage cream we usually use for ganache, and when I said 40% he replied, in an ah hah moment: "That has to be it--we only have 36%--it needs more fat." He got out his immersion blender and started adding more cream and voila: perfection! 36% would have been just fine for an ordinary chocolate and heavy cream ganache. (As I write ordinary I recall how a mere 30 years ago few people ever heard of ganache in this country. I used to define it as the ultimate nosh--yiddish for treat or snack.) But this ganache replaced a large amount of the cream with raspberry purée. I was impressed by so many qualities Jason possessed: focus, humility, dedication, fortitude, and creative artistry. It turned out that we have a very special dear friend in common: Jean Franç Bonnet. Jason worked under JF when he was head pastry chef at restaurant Daniel in New York City. About 20 years ago, I wrote a letter to the government pleading to keep JF in this country and saying that we risked losing a culinary gem to France. I told JF that I would do this if he promised to stay humble because he was going to become the best pastry chef in the country. We have been friends ever since. JF is now owner of Tumbador Chocolate. I first met JF when I was writing a story about financiers for Food Arts Magazine for which I was interviewing pastry chefs. JF was the only one who actually took the temperature of the beurre noisette and I saw immediately that he had a rare and deep understanding of the science of baking. I would often call him with questions and he always knew the answer. As Jason and we worked in our close but separate areas of the pastry kitchen, between dashing off to the ovens across the way, we exchanged stories and tastes of what we were making. Here's a photo of one of his signature desserts which was every bit as delicious as it is stunning to behold: Jason's version of the red velvet cake. Talk about kindred spirits: it is enhanced with raspberry just as I brushed my red velvet rose with raspberry purée which gave it a moist and delicious flavor.
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