Monday, March 26, 2012

Seabirdskitchen visits Sustenio

Last weekend madame and I drove down to San Antonio to visit our good friend Chef David Gilbert (@beyondthekit on twitter) in his new adventure as the Executive Chef at Sustenio - the inspired restaurant at the Eilan resort in the North Western suburbs of San Antonio. And what a treat.

Even with all that magic, that wasn't the only high point! The resort and hotel are themselves fabulous. Great staff, wonderful place. But there's more. As many know, I am an avid baker. I was delighted when I was offered the chance to spend time with the brilliant bread maker Kelly Wiltshire in the pastry kitchen. The catch? Oh he starts at 4am. So at about 04:00 on the Saturday morning, I rocked up to the kitchen to find Kelly and get the training.
Intense. Fascinating to work with larger batches and the industrial sized Hobart mixers. Fresh yeast too.  So what did I learn (but come nowhere near mastering)?
  • That I am too nice to my dough. 
  • That shaping rolls has a rhythm and skill that I have yet to master, but am now on the way.
  • That doughs are more forgiving than I realized
  • The real importance of high gluten flours - and their ability to withstand jostling during transfer from making to baking
  • That you can (should) double bake artisinal breads to get extra crust
  • That it is even harder work than I expected!
  • That there is equipment I can only dream about 
Now That's a mixer!

 I also got to watch a Ernest, a pastry chef do some incredibly detailed work - and best of all let me taste some of the results. How do pastry chefs stay thin? beats me!