“Best. Field. Trip. Ever.” Seriously, guys, everything can’t always be the “best”. Except it seems that being a Petit Chef these days is pretty darned awesome so maybe they are right! On Monday we headed to The Gallery Grill whose Chef Suzanne Baby just happens to be the sister of our own Ms Baby in the school office. Apart from being a beautiful location (from the website: “the vaulted ceiling, hand-painted stained glass windows and bird’s eye view of the oak-paneled Great Hall bellow creates a dining atmosphere like no other.“), the food is “comforting yet cosmopolitan” and the restaurant’s menu supports local producers of organic and/or naturally-raised foods whenever possible. When you’re in the dining room it feels like a special, secret place but the truth is it’s a not-so-well-kept secret here in Toronto. It might be a little tucked away in the campus of the University of Toronto but it’s most definitely worth seeking out.
When I contacted Suzanne to ask her for ideas of what we could do with the boys in the restaurant’s admittedly tiny kitchen, I made a few suggestions myself. I’m a little ashamed to say I picked “easy” dishes, very aware of the timing and space restrictions. When Suzanne came back with “I’m thinking of doing a hands on crash course in pâte à choux“, I knew we were speaking the same language. I know myself how easy pâte à choux is – I’ve made goat cheese mini puffs, éclairs, gougères, profiteroles, twice and heck, I even led a pâte à choux workshop at La Cuisine Paris last summer – but so many people think it’s complicated. Honestly – check out these ingredients…
The boys were a little unsure about working with so few ingredients but they watched Chef Suzanne with great interest…
And then they got to work…
And they were pretty excited to work on induction burners. “Hey Mlle, we need to get some of these for the science lab!” Indeed.
Before we knew it, we were ready to pipe out our puffs. Or whatever shapes we wanted. So. Much. Fun.
Right, our shapes weren’t quite as, shall we say, consistent, as Chef Suzanne’s but the boys certainly had fun and the great thing about this pastry is that if it’s made right it will bake up ok. As the boys’ trays of pastries baked, Chef Suzanne presented them with puffs and éclairs to fill and coat in chocolate. Can you say “Best. Field. Trip. Ever.”?
The photos I took aren’t the best but they show joy and enthusiasm which is worth a whole lot more in my book….
Chef Suzanne had all sorts of toppings and fillings including a balsamic caramel cream. “Pretty good” according to more than one Petit Chef. Such sophisticated little palates!
Can you say “focus”? (Well, except for the Petit Chef below who’s left his mini éclair in the chocolate dip as he offers advice to his friend on how to “get the most chocolate on top”. Ha!
And hey – Petits Chefs I have my eye on you. You are so busted!
Chef Suzanne – thank you. For showing the boys how easy pâte à choux really is. For showing them all manner of interpretations (pastry swans, réligieuses, churros – all unphotographed because there was a moment that needed to be lived in!). For empowering the boys. For showing them that fancy doesn’t mean difficult. I have no doubt that a few of the boys will be making these at home very soon. The idea of little boys making choux pastry makes me so so happy
The Gallery Grill
Hart House, University of Toronto
7 Hart House Circle,
Lunch: 11:30am – 2:30pm
Wednesday, Thursday & Friday
Cocktails: 4pm – 7pm
Brunch: 11am – 2pm