Taj Update: Winter Cafe Desserts!

We just recently came out with a new winter dessert menu for the Taj Boston Cafe! Here’s what’s available for the upcoming weeks!

799Boston Cream Pie: vanilla anglais, citrus segments, chocolate garnish

800Hazelnut Pane de Gene: Taj honey bavarian mousse, chocolate garnish, pistachio ice cream, chocolate sauce

797Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta: chambord gelee, poppyseed cake, meringue crumble, mandarin orange sorbet

798Grand Marnier Daquoise: Hazelnut daquoise cake and Grand Marnier mousse wrapped in chocolate served with an orange Grand Marnier sauce.

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Peanut Butter Banana Torte (top left): peanut croquant, peanut butter powder, and chocolate sauce

Spiced Maple Cheesecake (3rd row from the top, left): walnut crust, brown butter powder, cocoa nib tuile, orange sauce

Masala Tea Creme Brulee (3rd row from the top, right): served with fruit and poundcake

Chocolate Fondue (bottom): served with assorted fruits, cakes and candies for dipping

Wipe that drool off your face and stop by to try it for yourself! Check back on Tuesday and enjoy your weekend ahead!

 

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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!

 

I’m back!!

Hey friends!

I’m finally back from my hiatus and I missed blogging and being a member of this community SO MUCH. I’m going to make this post a short re-cap because I have a lot of fun (and embarrassing and awkward) material to share with you guys in the upcoming weeks.

I’ve been working 6 day weeks since Halloween at the Taj Hotel constructing this GIANT gingerbread scene-scape of the Boston Tea Party. With a team of 6, we were each able to construct one business and at least one house to be placed along the dock  with a ton of miscellaneous details to recreate a piece of  Boston history. It took us over 300 hours to build and probably 100 lbs of gingerbread and other decorating material. But it’s done and on display in the lobby! To anyone who lives in Boston- feel free to visit! Come back on Thursday to see an extended post (with plenty of pictures included!) of our gingerbread masterpiece!

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Other than spending my life at work, I’ve managed to hold onto a bit of my social life. My apartment had an epic Halloween/birthday party for my roommate filled with plenty of snacks, candy and jello shots. I was Spinelli from the kid classic cartoon, Recess. I had a lot of fun being a drunken idiot with all of my friends and managed to scrape through the night without throwing up. PERSONAL WIN.

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I’ve been Zumba-ing my butt off and am considered a regular at the classes now. I was actually forced to be in the front row today, so maybe I’m finally starting to get the hang of it! I’m really loving that it keeps me moving and motivated to remain healthy especially through the holiday season where I just want to stuff cookies and donuts down my throat. Speaking of food…

I have a couple new recipes and restaurant reviews to share!! Be sure to check back on Food for Thought Thursdays to check out some of my favorite holiday/winter recipes and cool Boston hotspots!

On a more somber note, my roommates dad passed away recently and we made a trip down to New Jersey for the funeral and wakes. This was really tough on our apartment but managed to bring us closer to one another. It definitely reminded me to tell those close  that I love them and not to take any of my relationships for granted. Be sure to tell your friends and family you love them! Go do it!

But as much as life is fleeting, new life is brought into the world every day. One of my best friends from college had a baby October 16th! I’ve visited Logan Joseph twice and am more and more in love with the little nugget. Isn’t he the cutest squirmy little baby!?

Also coming up in the next few weeks, I have plenty of awkward and embarrassing stories to share… especially when it comes to my dating life. EEK, spoiler alert- it may include another run in with Chris from the infamous post Tinder Meets Real Life! AHHH MY LIFE IS WEIRD!

Happy Holidays, friends! I’m so happy to be back and share my life with you! Don’t miss out on the action every Tuesday and Thursday!

Caramel Corn!

HAPPY FALL, FRIENDS!

It’s officially my absolute favorite season!! It’s time for basic white girls squealing in delight over pumpkin flavored things and UGG boots. Thankfully, those are two things that I hate but EVERYTHING ELSE about fall makes me so excited. Boots, scarves, cozy sweaters, cute hats, crisp air, pretty leaves, pumpkin and apple picking,fall festivals, football games, a sense of community, etc etc etc. I could go on for days.

But the MOST exciting part revolves around food, of course. Who would I be if I didn’t relate everything to food??

I learned this caramel corn recipe from the Taj and it’s so freaking good and easy to make! Its the perfect match of sweet and crunchy for the fall and just in time for Halloween. Enjoy!!

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Yield: 5 quarts popcorn

1c butter
2 c brown sugar
1/2 c corn syrup
1 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 t vanilla extract
5 quarts popped popcorn

  1. Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Begin by popping your popcorn kernals on the stove in a large pot with a couple tablespoons of canola oil. Keep the pot covered with a lid or a large piece of aluminum foil. As the oil starts to get hot, begin shifting the pan back and forth to agitate the kernals and keep them from burning.
  3. In a sauce pot, melt the butter. Stir in both sugars, corn syrup and salt and bring to a boil
  4. Stop stirring once the mixture is boiling, and let it go for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Take the mixture off the heat and quickly stir in baking soda and vanilla extract.
  6. Immediately pour the mixture over the popcorn and quickly fold together coating all the kernals.
  7. Spread the popcorn on parchment and oiled sheet pans and bake for 60 minutes. Check and stir the popcorn every 20 minutes.
  8. Let cool, break into pieces and eat away!

679Let me know what you guys think! I’m definitely keeping this recipe in my back pocket. On Tuesday, I’m divulging some more of my secret Boston finds! I love this city! Thanks for reading- hope you all have a great 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!

It’s a New Dawn

God damn, Michel Buble is the best, hands down. Want to feel classy? Throw on Buble. Want to take a relaxing bubble bath? Put on some Buble and make it a Buble bath instead. In the mood for some Christmas or holiday music? Buble has an entire album dedicated to that.

Recently, I was making dinner with my roommate when she played the song “Feeling Good” and we were JAMMING OUT. I suggest at this point in the post, you hit play on the link below to truly feel the chills and vibe out for a minute. Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you to listen before I continue.

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ISN’T IT SO KILLER?! I guess at this point, you’re wondering why I’m writing a post about Michel Buble, or at the very least starting my post about him. The last couple weeks of my life have been a complete whirlwind. I was babysitting when I got a call from the Taj Hotel in Boston where they were looking at a resume I had submitted months and months ago. They were hiring for a pastry cook and wanted to know if I was interested in coming for an open interview. I somehow miraculously had the day off when they were holding the interviews so I went in to see what all the hub-bub was about.

I ended up being at the initial interview for 3 1/2 hours! I met with HR for a behavioral interview, then with the pastry chef and finally with the food and beverage director before they asked me to come back for a bench test. For those of you who may or may not remember, a bench test is a practical assessment of your skills. You go in to physically make the team whatever you’re asked and then they assess your skill level as a piece of the interviewing process.

EEK! I was given 3 days to come up with some type of small cookie and a cake under the condition that I had to “surprise the chef”. EXCUSE ME WHAT. No pressure, my ass! I spent a whole day planning out what to make and started to gather what I needed for practice. I knew I needed to do well at this bench test since this job could open up a lot of doors for me! I practiced all weekend and even made my friends come over to taste test. They were obviously offended that I asked for their help.

The day comes and I go in for the test. Nervous as ever, I swallow the butterflies and get to work. At first everything is going smoothly and I think I’m not doing so bad! …but then my mousse breaks… And my ganache doesn’t set. And my cookies don’t have a sheen. My icing isn’t thick enough. Literally everything that COULD go wrong, DID go wrong. I was so beyond embarrassed. All I wanted to do was go home and cry a bit. All that practice went to nothing!

As I was talking to the chef, I expressed how embarrassed I was and wanted to show him my website as a testament to my work ethic and talent. He blew it off which made me think that I blew it despite him having told me that he looks for more qualities in a candidate than what they can produce. Once again, I was taken back up to HR where I had to wait AN HOUR to have YET ANOTHER INTERVIEW with the hotel manager. After being at the hotel for almost 8 hours, they extended me an offer letter on the spot. I honestly don’t know why- especially after my performance on the bench test- but I GOT IT! A job with better pay and benefits (it’s all about the BENNIESSSSSSSS HEYOOO) where I can quit my second job and really only focus on learning and developing my pastry repertoire!

In less than two weeks, I had to give notice to my current job at Flour (WAHHHH) but tried keeping perspective about what was ahead of me. I’ve since started at the Taj- a four star luxury hotel in Boston with other branches of the company ALL over the world. I couldn’t be any luckier. I think sometimes that whats meant to be, will be no matter how impatient I am for the results. Que sera sera.

To all of my fellow post grads, keep your heads up. If I can survive being the Bad Luck Club queen after a winter full of car accidents, pink eye and shingles yet still come out on top- so can you. Maybe it’s cliche sounding but I am a firm believer that everything falls into place for a reason. It’ll be your turn soon, don’t worry! But until then, take a deep breath! Let Buble calm you down and treat yourself to a nice glass of wine! TREAT YO SELF!

Check back on Thursday for another Food for Thought post! Until next time!