Taj Boston Update!

This past holiday season has been totally crazy at work but I feel like I’ve really been making progress in my career! As much as I loved my job as a baker at Flour, I wasn’t sure where I could go from there. I needed to  learn more, faster and I found that opportunity at the Taj! I started my employment as the swing shifter which means I was slowly being trained to cover any shift needed.

In a previous post (check it out HERE), I spoke a little bit about what the PM banquet shift was like! We prep for evening events like weddings or receptions and gatherings! It could be served banquet style where guests go up to a display and pick what they’d like to eat or even make it more formal and each guest receives a plated dessert. I alternate the PM shift with the AM shift where I prep plated desserts for the cafe and bake morning pastries for the in room dining guests (aka room service) or front desk.

While one of my co-workers is on a three week vacation, I’ve taken over a new shift! I’ve been spending my time learning how to execute high tea! Every weekend, we have multiple seatings of a formal high tea service. As the last part of their meal, each group would receive a little stand of pastries! We change that menu seasonally and I was able to help implement during its first week!

Included on the tea stand for the winter menu is: pistachio macaroons, chocolate roulade, vanilla pommegranate panna cotta, passion fruit ganache tart, blood orange pate de fruit, spiced cookies and maple walnut and cocoa scones served with orange curd and devonshire cream! While I didn’t come up with the menu items, I was able to help imagine their presentations and really try step up our tea game!

An old chef of mine from school used to work at the Taj and she came to visit the hotel one night. She laughed as she told me that a display dummy cake in the lobby was one she made back in 2010! I brought this to my current chefs attention and he’s going to let me design a new cake for the display! I’m really looking forward to expanding my skill set and adding something new to my portfolio.

Lastly, we have a new dessert menu coming up for the cafe that we’re currently testing recipes for! My dessert is a Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta with a Chambord Gelee, poppyseed cake, meringue crumble and mandarin orange sorbet! I’m looking forward to putting the finishing touches on the recipes and seeing it in action.

While I don’t have any pictures yet, I’ll be sure to post them in the upcoming weeks! I feel super lucky that I’m being exposed to so many facets of the industry at this job and I can’t wait to see what’s coming up next!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! Be sure to check back next week- I have a couple fun posts coming up! Thanks for reading!

 

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Boston Public Market

So by now, I think it’s pretty obvious how much I love food markets (check out my post about Haymarket here). So I was really excited when I heard that the Boston Public Market opened up a little less than two weeks ago! I had to get down there to check it out!

Apparently the BPM had been in the works for the last 15 years however with 9/11 and the economy taking a ginormous dump, the progress was pretty much halted. The BPM is a year-round indoor market that runs Wednesday through Sundays from 8am to 8pm. It’s conveniently located in the same building as the Haymarket T stop which is a connection for the green and orange lines. For those of you who are familiar with, or read my post about the open air market I referenced above, it’s literally at the same location so you’d get a TON of variety in products on Fridays and Saturdays.

As well as being accessible by the T, you can also drive and park in the garage directly above the market. This garage  (called Parcel 7) is validated by the front desk in the market for up to 3 hours! Each hour only costs a dollar so it’s probably the best kept short term parking secret in the city. However, the entrance is near impossible to find… I can attest to that from personal experience. I read all the reviews on Yelp and thought I had obtained the address that would lead me to the entrance of the building but it turns out I parked in a different parking garage… and ended up paying $24 for an hour and a half! EEK!!! But thankfully, it’s so close to many of Boston’s attractions (Fanueil Hall, the State House, Boston Commons/Gardens, etc) so you can make a day out of it!

The Boston Public Market has permanent food vendors in the building as well as a giant kitchen that will be used to host cooking class and demonstrations with talent from America’s Test Kitchen (where I used to work!) as well as some random yoga and fitness classes in there as well to utilize that amazing space.

Walking into the market, I was so incredibly impressed. The space was well thought out and totally modern in style. Everything was so clean and organized- I loved it! All of the stands there were either representatives from local farms or small businesses. I love shopping local and try to do that as often as I can to support the local economy.

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I purposely didn’t eat breakfast before I went so I could grab a donut from Union Square Donuts (some might argue that they are the BEST donuts in the city) when we got there. I ordered the Hazelnut Crunch Donut ($3) and a half dozen glazed donut holes ($2.50). HOLY WOW YUM WHAT A GREAT DECISION. We then chatted up the girl working the counter for the next couple of minutes discussing how we had been looking forward to donuts all morning and how they’re also working hand in hand with Shake Shack for their concrete of the month since my roommate Allie works there! (Stay tuned for an interview with Allie about her job at Shack Shake, coming soon!)

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While we munched our donuts, we wanted to take a spin around the building to sight see and figure out what we wanted to buy and from where. In addition to just food stands, there were also two stands that focuses on handmade plate and utensil wear! I wanted to buy it all but I haven’t hit the lottery yet, unfortunately. We were also really admiring a stand selling fresh cut flowers! So pretty!

572 580I also noticed that the market had a couple community tables where you can sit and eat or chat with some of the workers/other market-goers. It really brought a sense of community to the establishment. However, I think my favorite idea was a wall that was entirely dedicated to a “Cookbook Exchange”. Similar to the idea of Leave a Penny, Take a Penny, you could bring old cookbooks with different notes or ideas written in it, and exchange it for another cookbook. I love love LOVE this idea. There’s nothing more inspiring to me than fostering a community around the love of food.

579 567While not every single stand is completely up and running just yet since it only opened two weeks ago, it’s probably running at about 80% capacity right now. While looking at a couple fresh produce stands, we learned that one of the farms harvest the food only a day or two in advance before it comes to the market and is packed every day at 3am to be driven a hour to the market! Talk about fresh! Another stand was from Vermont and also brought local cheeses, eggs and dairy to sell. You could even watch fresh cider donuts being made! DROOL.

My favorite part of the day had to be when we visited a cheese stand and tasted four different products while discussing their qualities with a cheese monger. Free samples galore! I bought a quarter pound of cheese called Moses Sleeper which was basically a super flavorful brie. We also tried another cheese called Winnemere that tasted smoky with hints of bacon. There was one particular cheese I didn’t enjoy that tasted like mushrooms and smoke but I really am not a fan of mushrooms so that’ll explain it.

569 575 581 566I left the Market with a boule of sourdough bread, a quarter pound of Moses Sleeper cheese, a whole bunch of pamphlets and recipes, and a stomach full of donuts. BEST. MORNING. EVER. Afterwards, Allie and I went to go sit in the park for about an hour to eat our bread and cheese and soak up the sun! Such a perfect day. I would HIGHLY recommend making a trip to go see the Boston Public Market! It’s only going to get better and better over the next couple weeks as more stands open! Who knows, maybe I’ll be there too!

Hope you enjoyed Food for Thought Thursday! Check back on Tuesday for another infamous OkCupid/dating life update! Why do I always get the weird messages!?

What’s your favorite part about food markets? Share your experience with me! Enjoy your weekend!

Job Update #2- Taj Boston Pastry

In the past couple weeks at the Taj Hotel, I’ve been learning so many new things! I started training on the closing shift (2-10:30pm) which was a tough adjustment of my sleep schedule where I fell asleep at 8 or 9 to wake up at 3am. The closing shift is focused on night time banquets; this includes anything from holiday parties, award receptions or even weddings!

Since my day begins at 2pm, I try and wake up by 9:30 to go to the gym/eat breakfast/get stuff done before I take a 12:45 bus to work. Unfortunately, I never feel as productive on those days as when I open but it’s definitely given me more of a chance to go out at night and meet friends for a drink which is great! My schedule is ever-changing making my life totally refreshing- each day brings something new.

When focusing on banquets, we work at least two days in advance. On the day of an event, we typically only have to plate up the dessert and put their final touches on before pick up. What’s cool about banquets however is that the items we have to make is contingent on the guest! Some days it’s mini boston cream pies and another customer might was key lime tarts. I’ve also made tiramisu verrines, assortments of cookies, macaroons, cannolis, etc.

On the occasion that a wedding is happening in the hotel, the clients must buy their cake from us. They can get a dummy cake (fondant decorated Styrofoam) and sheet cakes (square cakes, plainly decorated to feed the masses) or they can just order a decorated cake. The most expensive cake I’ve seen ordered so far has totaled up to $3,000 for 100 guests! That’s $30 a plate per guest! If it’s a dummy cake, we often spend weeks in advance planning the decorations, shape, colors, execution, etc. of the design. Many hours of man-power go into making something spectacular which is why the cost is so high!

Check out some of my pictures below of some of the work I’ve been doing!
Hungry, yet?

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Caramel Whisky Verrine

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Lemon Meringue Tarts

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Midnight Torte

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Galaxy Chocolate

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Peach Cobbler

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Pecan Caramel Verrine with Candied Pecans

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Making Chocolate Cigarettes!

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Pile of finished cigarettes :]

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Apple Pie Macs: green apple gelee, caramel cinnamon ganache, brown butter crumble

Check back on Tuesday for a blog about some of my current book recommendations!

Twerkin’ at the Taj

So I landed a new job at the Taj Hotel in Boston! This is such a huge career move for me and I’m so happy that this landed in my lap. The Taj is a 4 star 4 diamond hotel so its SUUUUPER fancy. On my first day, a woman and her richy rich kids got off the elevator and I KID YOU NOT SAID, “Does anyone want to go to Tiffanys?” Wait wait, is that an option!? Those teeny bopper daughters just get to casually go to Tiffanys?! Oy, I grew up in a totally different world. They also have teeny tiny bottles of everything- Heinz ketchup, fancy jellies and honey’s, any type of condiments, you name it. I didn’t realize that they even made jars that small!

Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces was founded in the 1800’s, the original being the Taj Mahal which almost everyone is familiar with! The Taj Boston used to be the original Ritz Carlton hotel so it’s swimming in history! The Taj only currently has three hotels in the United States (Boston, New York and San Francisco) but they have them all over the world! You could visit London, India, the Maldives, you name it! Of course, it’s at the cheap-o price of $350 a night for the cheapest room. But I get 10 days of free stay a year at the hotel! HOLLAAAA

But regardless, I’ve been having a blast at this new job. It’s a breath of fresh air and really creative. I feel like I’m actually trusted to make decisions about flavors, textures, recipes, etc. I’ve been trained thus far on the morning shift where I bake all the small pastries for continental breakfast, room service and any morning banquets or meetings. But then it’s followed by production work where I prepare the components of the plated desserts in the cafe! 458 459Every weekend, a high tea is served with a separate menu and on Sunday’s, brunch is served on the rooftop of the hotel where you can see the most beautiful view of the city I have ever seen! The Taj borders Arlington Street which overlooks the Boston Public Gardens and Boston Commons as well as Newbury Street which is like the Rodeo Drive of Boston! Such a great spot for people watching and really enjoying a great view of the city- although it comes at a cost! Typical brunch with champagne goes at $80 bucks a pop!! Plus, gratuity automatically gets added to your bill at the end of the meal so be prepared to pay a pretty penny.

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470However, the brunch menu is unlimited! Every week, we prepare a dessert buffet that’s differs from the last! Nothing ever stays the same! And of course, there’s a raw bar, garde manager items and a hot bar with all you can eat. YUMMMMMM. The dessert bar always has some type of cheesecake, cookies, shot glass item and martini glass items as well as anything else we dream up in the pastry kitchen! I figured I’d post some pictures of our desserts thus far below so be prepared to drool! Note: Not everything was made entirely by me but the pastry team! So excited to be a part of something great!

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Opera Cake!

Opera Cake!

Brown Butter Blackberry Tarts!

Brown Butter Blackberry Tarts!

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Burnt Honey Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Honey Gelee

Burnt Honey Cheesecake with Chocolate Graham Cracker Crust and Honey Gelee

Keylime Torte

Keylime Torte

Midnight Chocolate Torte!

Midnight Chocolate Torte!

Cherry Chocolate Torte

Cherry Chocolate Torte

Oreo Cheesecake with Cookie Crust and Oreo filling on top!

Oreo Cheesecake with Cookie Crust and Oreo filling on top!

Cookies for VIP's:- from L to R: thyme sable with lemon curd, almond thumprints, orange sable, chocolate cookies with Dulcey chocolate drizzle

Cookies for VIP’s:- from L to R: thyme sable with lemon curd, almond thumprints, orange sable, chocolate cookies with Dulcey chocolate drizzle

Orange Mousseline with caramelized white chocolate crumble

Orange Mousseline with caramelized white chocolate crumble

Check back on Tuesday for another Post Grad blog about how I’m slowly but surely becoming a bad ass. ….Kinda. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!