Author: PreGel

10 Questions with The Place

As the leaves are falling off the trees and the temperatures around most of the Unites States are becoming cold, Amy Andrade, PreGel Special Service Team Manager, takes you to a warm and tropical locale in this issue of “10 Questions With…”

Located in the Caribbean Sea and on the island’s North Eastern shore, San Juan, Puerto Rico enjoys warm temperatures year round and a gorgeous setting that lures tourists to this island’s most populated city.

San Juan is a city of juxtapositions; modern gray hotels and office-condo buildings are set against a backdrop of brightly painted historic homes, cobblestone streets, and colonial Spanish forts that date back centuries.  Almost anywhere you go in the city are water views of San Juan Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

This incredible setting is the home of The Place, a burger bar located in the hotel district known as Condado. While The Place at Condado, at its core, is a casual build-your-own burger bar, it is also a beer garden, a wood-oven pizza restaurant, and a limber food truck.  For those not familiar with the nearly century-old frozen treat uniquely Puerto Rican, limbers, in their simplest and most traditional form, are cups of hard-frozen fruit juices inverted onto cupcake wrappers, plates, or cups and consumed like a popsicle – by licking.

You may wonder why a burger bar would be featured in a publication from a frozen dessert ingredient company. The reason? Shakes, of course! There is nothing like the classic duo of a great burger and frosty milkshake. In addition to the shakes (which make up 90% of their frozen treat sales), The Place also serves Burger Gelato.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Carlos Vasquez, the founder and owner of The Place. Carlos is a farm-owning third generation jewelry salesman who opened The Place six years ago, having zero restaurant or food service experience. However, Carlos had a passion: his favorite food – burgers. He also had lots of experience with dining out, having traveled extensively during his twenty-five years in jewelry sales. He knew he wanted to open his own burger restaurant as a hobby by combining his favorite concepts from many different restaurants into one – serving simple, good quality food at a great price.

Carlos turned this hobby into a restaurant successful enough for him to quit the jewelry business three years ago. The restaurant averages 500 tickets a night – that’s a lot of burgers and shakes. So successful, in fact, that he has had numerous requests from people who want to franchise his business and bring it into the States.

 

Amy Andrade (AA): Let’s start here. What made you think that you would be able to run a successful restaurant with virtually no experience?

Carlos Vasquez (CV): If you can sell jewelry, you can sell anything. The jewelry sales business is a very tough business.

 

AA: There is a Burger Gelato on your menu. What is a Burger Gelato?

CV: Burger Gelato are gelato “burgers” made using PreGel’s Gelato Panini Machine, the brioche buns we use for the burgers, and the soft ice cream/ gelato and toppings. Customers select which soft ice cream/ gelato (burger) flavor they want and what topping(s) they want to build their own.

 

AA: What is your favorite PreGel item to use?

CV: Sprints

 

AA: Why is our Sprints line your favorite?

CV: Sprints are very easy to use and the soft ice cream/ gelato can be made very fast.

 

AA: What is the favorite flavor for frozen desserts in Puerto Rico?

CV: Coconut.

 

AA: What have been some successful marketing techniques you have used?

CV: We are closed Monday and Tuesday of every week. This gives people the time to crave our product. We actually have customers waiting outside for us to open on Wednesdays. These people tell us they had to come get a burger because they are craving them. If you give people what they want 24/7, it never gives people the opportunity to crave the product. The product just becomes not special anymore if you can get it whenever you want it.

We also have call-in/ pick up service. We are in an area that is surrounded by a lot of residential buildings. People are not allowed to grill on their balconies or patios so they call in orders, pick them up, and take them back home to eat. We currently do not do deliveries but we are looking to do them in the future.

 

AA: I also see that you allow dogs in your outside area?

CV: Yes, I am a dog lover. I have five dogs. We’ve done this from the very beginning when we opened. We were the first restaurant in Puerto Rico that allowed dogs in a restaurant environment. They are allowed outside in our beer garden. Every dog that comes in gets a treat and a bowl of water.

 

AA: As a dog owner of three, I know I like to go where I can bring my dogs.

CV: Yes. We are also kid-friendly. We have a basketball court and dominoes in the beer garden so that children can play while the adults can sit and enjoy some beer and food. We wanted to make our place very family-friendly. People come and stay for a long time.

As an aside, these are great marketing tools – it is proven that parents eat at restaurants where their kids want to eat. Kids want to eat where it is fun for them. In this world of millennials, millennials see their pets as their “children” and want to go places where they can take their pets, especially dogs.

 

AA: You recently visited our International Training Center in Florida. How was that experience for you?

CV: Everything was super. I had personal class where I went and Victoria (PreGel’s Florida ITC Pastry Chef) helped me with new concepts I am working on. Victoria was very helpful and knowledgeable.

 

AA: Do you incorporate any of your soft ice cream/ gelato into your adult beverage or cocktail offerings?

CV: Yes, we serve affogato (espresso over gelato).

 

AA: Your restaurant is so successful. I understand you are planning on expanding?

CV: Yes, we are in the process of opening a build-your-own sandwich shop – like the concept of the build-your-own burgers. However, the sandwich shop, which will be located near our restaurant, will not have as much seating and will be more for take-out.

 

AA: What is your personal favorite flavor of frozen desserts?

CV: Gianduiotto (chocolate hazelnut).

The Many Flavors of Chocolate

PreGel Corporate Pastry Chef & US ITC Manager, Sean Pera, is exploring the delicious spectrum of a never-ending trend: chocolate. Take note of how Chef Pera recommends some uses of chocolate in all its splendorous forms.

 

With the world of chocolate ever-expanding in its vast choices of flavors and sommelier-esque descriptions, it can sometimes feel as if there’s no limit to the amount of micro and macro flavor trends that chocolate can associate to itself. So let’s ask ourselves what the perfect balance of familiarity and exotic is.

Black Forest Milkshake: Get the recipe here!

 

There’s absolutely no doubt that a pink trend is in. Mostly due to the creation of the infamous Ruby chocolate made with unfermented cocoa beans, there seems to have been a jolt in pink-inspired flavors. So, naturally, florals and botanicals are in this year. Everything from rose, rhubarb, berries, hibiscus, cherries and pink spices.

Chocolate Raspberry Gelato: Get the recipe here!

We all grew up with doctors telling us to eat our fruits and veggies, and technically, they never said combine them with chocolate. But, why not? I mean, cocoa beans are in fact a vegetable according to the FDA. So feel free to make fruit and vegetable-inspired ganache for your chocolate bonbons, or mélange some beet powder into your dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Bonbons: Get the recipe here!

And maybe this is my favorite trend for 2019: smoked and fermented chocolate flavors. Chocolate is already made with fermented cocoa beans and gets slight smoky notes from roasting, and if it didn’t, well, it just wouldn’t taste like chocolate. So as natural as fermentation is already to the chocolate world, I’m thinking of different ways to bring fermented flavors into a ganache. Did someone say kombucha?

Choco Naked Cake: Get the recipe here!

Smoke is on the rise, quite literally, and smoked chocolate is definitely a good thing. In fact, pretty much anything you smoke is bound to be delicious, but maybe that’s just the Texan in me. It’s fair to say that 2019, so far, has boasted smoke and ‘smokeless’ flavors as highlighted in applications  such as Cherrywood infused into cream for ganache, and smoked chocolate tequila sorbet.

Butter Pecan S’mores Pop: Get the recipe here!

It’s true that chocolate is a flavor that never goes out of style, and depending on how you manipulate it, chocolate is an ingredient that is proving to get better with time.

 

All Things Chocolate: Bean to Dessert with Chef Michael Laiskonis

In his ninth year lecturing at the PreGel 5-Star Pastry Series®, Chef Michael Laiskonis, creative director at the Institute of Culinary Education, New York City, fascinated attendees with his extensive knowledge of chocolate. He showcased mono portions and verrines as well as a variety of bonbons and confections that incorporated the chocolate produced in class.

The “All Things Chocolate: Bean to Dessert” seminar began with an in-depth lecture covering the science behind bean-to-bar chocolate production. Chef Laiskonis educated the class about cocoa farms and how cocoa pods are grown and harvested. The attendees continued with scaling the items for each recipe and working alongside Chef Laiskonis while soaking in as much information as they could.

Chef Laiskonis pre-roasted, shelled, and broke down Dominican Republic and Ugandan cocoa beans. He then added them to a chocolate refiner where they stayed for 24 hours to achieve a completely smooth texture and develop stronger flavor profiles. The attendees were blown away by Chef Laiskonis’ talent, experience, and scientific understanding of chocolate.

 

The chefs arrived from different locations in North Carolina as well as Ohio and Puerto Rico, representing restaurants, country clubs, bakeries, and universities.  The 3-day class finished with a large buffet of pastries and confections that each included the bean-to-bar chocolate prepared in class. Overall, the class was extraordinary and attendees left eager to incorporate their new knowledge of chocolate into their present work.

 

Student Testimonials

 

“Meeting Chef Laiskonis was a huge honor and getting to receive so much information from him in such an intimate class size was amazing. I took so many valuable notes that I will be able to take with me for always. Thank you Chef Laiskonis and the wonderful PreGel staff.”  – Kallie Haines, assistant chef to the Executive Pastry Chef, The Ohio State University

“I have learned more than I thought possible over the last three days. Although, I also learned that I have an infinite amount of information ahead of me to learn.” Gene Phelps II, general manager, The Chocolate Cellar LLC.

“This class challenge led me to think outside the box and be aware of every ingredient and every step that chocolate goes.” – Gabriel Maysonet, pastry sous chef, Condodo Vanderbilt Hotel

“I cannot believe how much I learned, how many pastries Chef Laiskonis made in a few short days! He was so informed, yet approachable. I would definitely recommend his class to anyone!” – Zibaa Sammandler, pastry chef, Aziza Restaurant

“Great class. Thoroughly enjoyed first the lectures and the techniques as well.” Anthony Rizzo, executive chef, Two Rivers Country Club, Williamsburg, VA

“This is my first 5-Star pastry class I had the privilege to attend. The class was very thorough and inspiring. I’ve learned and I revived a passion to further understand my ingredients and how it works. I plan on attending more classes.” – Bouavanh Southivorarat, pastry chef, Southminster

“Although only able to attend one day of the seminar, it was thoroughly educational, entertaining, and fun.” Michael McCarthy, pastry sous chef, Mohegan Sun

“Class was very informative and insightful. I am more of a savory food chef, but wanted to learn more of trends, and everyone’s favorite chocolate. I will incorporate ideas and knowledge to help me and my area grow.” Roger Garland, executive chef, The Ohio State University

Pizzachio! Pistachio Pesto Pizza

Taken from the pages of PreGel’s P Magazine,  in this article written by Daniela Milano, social media specialist for PreGel America, we revisit how ingredients for creating artisanal desserts can be utilized to prepare savory menu options, such as Pistachio Pesto Pizza! 

When Sweets Go Nuts for Savory

When you talk about sweet and savory, you open the door to endless menu options. According to the New York Times, the relationship between sweet and savory has come full circle—from medieval and Renaissance Europe, when there was no division between them, to their segregation during the 20th century and back again to the current era, in which cutting-edge chefs delight in toying with our expectations.

There are many ingredients that, at first thought, are associated with either sweet or savory. Nonetheless, these items are becoming interchangeable between these two categories. As the world of sweet and savory pairings is evolving, we are seeing more out of the box recipes expanding beyond some of the classics we are familiar with such as chocolate-covered pretzels or salted caramel brownies. In fact, this culinary sector has been present across various cuisines for years. Take, for example, some traditional Thanksgiving dishes like sweet potato casserole or cranberry sauce with turkey.

We have been familiar with the idea of sweet and savory for a while, but as we continue to gain knowledge into the flavor profile and versatility of various ingredients, we are seeing them being utilized in more creative inspired recipes.

In addition to the desire to experiment, food trends are a major source of new and innovative ways to use seemingly common ingredients and transform them into a wide range of dishes. Food service industry publication, Food Business News, notes that, savory flavors became a trend 8 to 10 years ago. The first movement was salty snacks, and then it started to expand with bacon everywhere, with high visibility in ice cream and chocolate. That was when there was a convergence of salty and sweet. That is old school now. It’s ubiquitous to see savory sweet desserts.

Between what’s trending and chefs’ ambition to create new and innovative menu options, sweet and savory pairing opens a whole new world of culinary treasures. Today, we are seeing a rise in the use of ingredients that may have been more commonly associated with sweet applications just as often in savory applications. As stated in Food Business News, it is not accurate to say flavor trends are shifting from sweet to savory, but it is accurate to note the influx of new flavor trends that tend to have a savory positioning. A micro-trend identified by market researcher group Datassential is “new savory,” which involves chefs taking traditionally sweet applications and turning them into “savory-dominant concepts.”

 

Click here for the Pistachio Pesto Pizza recipe

In this light, we can see how many specialty dessert ingredient solutions can be applicable not just in various desserts, but savory dishes as well. In the featured recipe, we have a Pistachio Pesto Pizza made with PreGel’s Pistachio Pure Anatolia Traditional Paste. Many nuts, pistachios in particular (though they are botanically classified as a drupe fruit), are a common ingredient that you see frequently in sweet and savory recipes. As explained by flavor firm, FONA International, the pistachio is known for its delicate and subtle flavor, and can be a perfect partner to many dishes and products. Its well-known flavor profile is showing clear growth as well, noted to create unique tastes when paired with stronger flavors ranging from halibut to chocolate bark.

Moreover, Research and Markets, an online market research store, predicts the global pistachio market to grow with a CAGR of 3.21% over the forecast period of 2018-2024 based on driver and opportunities including:

  • Rising usages of pistachio as a flavoring agent in the bakery product
  • Rising consumption of pistachio as a snack
  • Increasing application of pistachio in food confectionery and bakery items

Furthermore, www.tridge.com, a global sourcing hub, reports that nut products within the segment will reach USD 5.3 billion by 2020 at an annual growth rate of 2.1%.

The featured Pistachio Pesto Pizza recipe is one of many savory applications PreGel pistachio pastes can be used for. If you are only flavoring your sweet options with pistachio paste, here’s a chance to step out of your comfort zone.

Boutique Style Entremets with Chef Amaury Guichon

Click here to watch Chef Guichon answer: What is your favorite technique?

 

In his third return to the 5-Star Pastry Series® at PreGel America, Chef Amaury Guichon, international pastry instructor, debuted his first ever entremets class for students from all around the world. During the seminar, seven different entremets were produced to completion from the glazes, to the chocolate garnishes.

The “Boutique Style Entremets” demonstration began by jumping directly into the heart of the desserts. The attendees watched closely as Chef Guichon moved quickly, making each layer for the entremets, starting with the inside and working his way out. He surprised the students with an additional entremet just to show how excited he was to be teaching entremets for the first time. Chef Guichon invited students to volunteer, beginning day one, by cutting fruit for the compotes and sheeting out the doughs.

Chef Guichon talked about the importance of using everything in multiple ways from incorporating vanilla bean pods in their entirety in his Old School Praline recipe, to thinking about day-to-day items to make into desserts. For example, he recreated the classic black forest cake into the shape of a drum.

On day three, Chef Guichon showed the students how to make his now infamous sugar dome for his Compass by controlling everything from the temperature of the sugar to the type of water used in the recipe.

The student chefs arrived from all over the United States, Mexico, and Canada, with some traveling from countries as far away as Denmark. Student chefs represented restaurants, universities, hotels, bakeries, golf clubs, and convention centers.

The 3-day class finished with a large buffet of all the unique and eye-catching entremets. The class ended with Chef Guichon signing copies of his new book The Art of Flavor, followed by everyone toasting a glass of champagne to a wonderful experience and indulging in all the delicious desserts that were created.

Overall, the attendees left the PreGel International Training Centers armed with the understanding and know-how of multiple new techniques introduced by Chef Guichon, and a connection to a newfound community of peers in the pastry community that will assist in their continued growth in the industry.

 

Student Testimonials

“Outstanding class taught by a chef with enormous talent.” – Hyunmi Lee, Instructor, CSN

“Amazing class and amazing instructor. I’ve taken professional classes before, but none were this interesting or advanced.” – Lymarie Jimenez, pastry chef, Palmira Golf Club

“This was a fantastic class. Chef Guichon is so talented and charismatic. I picked up so many new techniques and am leaving extremely inspired. Thank you for yet another awesome experience.”  – Melissa Attanas, baking + pastry arts instructor, Wale Tech Community College

“Informative, inspirational, and Chef Guichon made all students feel like questions were welcome. The final products actually lived up to former visuals and tasted even better. I’m leaving class feeling as though I have gained an enormous amount of new knowledge and am eager to apply them.” – Christina Andrews, teacher/caterer, freelancer

“Great class, methods, and techniques. Really great information and tips.” Ana Bonilla, assistant pastry chef

“I loved the level of instruction and attention to detail.” Jocelyn Weatherford, chef/owner, Defy Explanation

“It was an amazing class with lots of techniques that were very well explained. Chef Guichon was wonderful; he showed every recipe to perfection. I love that we didnt waste time measuring ingredients. We used the time to learn and see every demonstration. Everyone at PreGel was so nice and welcoming.” Fernanda Dutra, executive pastry chef, BYU

“This was an amazing class. Great facility, great accomodations. I heard about it through work. My boss and sous chef came here for a class two years ago. I hope to come back in the future to see more and learn more.” Nickolas Aubin, pastry chef de partie, Edmonton Convention Centre

“Amaury was amazing. His attention to detail, creativity, and passion for his craft definitely shines through in his creations. I appreciated that accommodations were included and transportation to and from the hotel.” Ilyana Lam, pastry sous chef, Edmonton Convention Centre

“An amazing experience. Chef Amaury was incredibly attentive and went beyond to answer all questions. The PreGel staff went above the call of duty to ensure an outstanding, memorable experience. THANK YOU!!” Scott Valenti

“I loved it. It was really educational and exciting. Even though it was a long journey across the Atlantic, I would be happy to come again.” Maria Seremet, store employee, Circle K A/S Denmark

“Wonderful class with great new techniques. The skills are artfully taught. Culinary knowledge is explained well.” Elena Coghlan

Ice Cream Around the World

It’s July. You know what that means? It’s National Ice Cream Month–31 days of celebrating Americans’ love for its classic frozen treat. In honor of this sweet occasion, we’re bringing back this P Magazine article by Maria Seaman, area marketing manager, Latin America, to revisit how ice cream is loved around the world.

Learn about our collection of Pistachio flavoring pastes.

Every country, region, city, even town has a particular dish that makes them known or even puts them on the world map of culinary excellence. Nowadays, almost every culinary desire is within our reach, making us more aware of the cultures in other countries, thereby increasing our curiosity to know more about all of them.

When it comes to desserts, some of us, tend to do some investigative work when we travel or visit a new restaurant. But there’s nothing simpler than ice cream, we all know it in some way, shape, or form, and although ice cream can be enjoyed in different ways, it doesn’t matter where you come from, ice cream has proven to be a timeless desert. So, join me in this short tour of ice cream around the world.

Register here to take an Ice Cream 101 class at the PreGel International Training Centers

Let’s start with Kulfi from Far East, India. Kulfi uses a slow cooking process and is made with condensed milk, making it denser and sweeter.  The website India.com explains the process: kulfi is poured into molds and frozen in a vessel filled with salt and ice. The vessel is well-insulated and both protects the kulfi from outside heat, and slows the melting time of the ice. Flavors include rosewater, mango, and saffron, and to add some crunch, pieces of pistachio are sprinkled in.

We now move to the Philippines with Sorbetes, also known as “dirty ice cream.” But don’t be alarmed, Sorbetes gets its unique nickname because it’s sold from street carts. Made with coconut milk or carabo’s (water buffalo) milk, Sorbetes is thickened with cassava flour, and depending on the vendor, you can get it on a wafer cone, in a small plastic cup, or bread bun. Flavors consist of mango, melon, avocado, and jackfruit.

Next stop, Turkey! This region brings us the creamiest and most flexible ice cream of all—Dondurma. The stretchiness of this treat is thanks to a special and rare ingredient, salep—a wild orchid root native to Turkey; while mastic or gum Arabic lends its elasticity and a higher melting point to help withstand the blistering Mediterranean sun.

Our delicious world ice cream tour now brings us to Russia, with its Plombir. As stated on the Food Network’s website, Russia’s food was heavily influenced by classical French cuisine in the 19th century, where Plombir has its roots. Unlike the ice cream that is currently popular in France, Plombir is heavy on the eggs — like a thick, frozen pastry cream.

We now move to something closer to us in the Americas. Our neighbor, Mexico, brings us Chongos. This delicacy is a Mexican custard which is transformed into an ice cream. It all begins with milk and sugar that’s curdled and finished with some cinnamon.

And to finalize this short tour, we end at the equator. Ecuador brings us not only the beauty of the Galapagos Islands, but the deliciousness of simplicity with its Helado de Paila.  Made in a huge round-bottom brass pan filled with local fruits, sugar, water or cream, and sitting on top of crushed ice, this pan then is turned continuously until the mixture starts freezing. Flavor recommendations from the locals are mora (blackberry) and taxo (banana passion fruit).

Download for trendy drinkable desserts you can make with ice cream!

Now that you have experienced a glimpse of the processes, ingredients, and ways of serving ice cream in different countries around the world, perhaps these flavors will inspire your next innovative ice cream recipe to add to the international “treat” list.

Contemporary Patisserie: A Journey with Chef William Werner

In his first 5-Star Pastry Series® at PreGel America, Chef William Werner intrigued chef attendees from all over the U.S. with his unique style of pastries.  Chef Werner is the pastry chef and owner of the San Francisco-based contemporary style pastry shop Craftsman and Wolves. He showcased his infamous recipes using unique flavor combinations and out-of-the box ideas.

The “Contemporary Patisserie” class began with the student chefs being split into four teams, which, throughout the class, were named by Chef Werner himself. He worked closely with each team, educating them on his recipes, how they were created, and how important it is to keep a production schedule especially when making bread. The Gogi-Nib Chocolate Levain was time-consuming but captivated everyone with each step. The Levain began with a starter, affectionately named “Dolly,” and ended with perfection and Coffee Laced Milk Jam. The class consisted of various cakes, tarts, snacks, and confections, each as delicious as the one prior.

Chef Werner took traditional recipes and enhanced them in different ways. For example, he demonstrated adding bitters to Demerara sugar for the exterior coating on a Blood Orange Pâte de Fruit, and he used uncommon flavors like osmanthus, black sesame, and buckwheat in his recipe innovation.

Chef Werner finds inspiration when visiting Asian markets, and he inspired the students to step out of their norm to find ingredients that will make their desserts stand out. He shared ideas on how he comes up with a new item—taking each ingredient and tasting them side by side to see which complements the other(s) the best.

The real star of the show, which took a generous amount of testing to come alive, was The Rebel Within: a savory muffin surrounding a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg finished with “‘Basco Salt.” It began with mixing sour cream, oil, and eggs until combined, adding all of the dry ingredients, and then mixing in shredded cheese, onions, and crumbled sausage. It was flawless!

The chef students arrived from all over the United States, representing career changers, restaurants, universities, and private clubs. The 3-day class finished with a modern display of pastries and confections that led everyone to think about how they would incorporate these new techniques into their work. Chef Werner toasted to a wonderful class and ended with great conversation, while enjoying all of their hard work that had culminated into a beautiful buffet of contemporary pastries.

 

Student Testimonials

 

“After an intense, three-day workshop, I would like to thank PreGel and Pastry Chef William Werner for making this an unforgettable experience. I would highly recommend attending events much like this.”  – Justin Kostelansky

“PreGel is always an amazing experience. They do a really nice job in selecting not only knowledgeable chefs, but great teachers/storytellers.” – Quientina Steward, assistant professor, Johnson & Wales University

“Very intense, energetic class. Chef Werner is very knowledgeable and is willing to share the wealth of his knowledge and practical experience. I highly encourage taking his class. Chef Werner is very personable and friendly, having called every student by name.”       – Raymond Jang

“I am grateful to have learned something new and to have trained at PreGel America. I will be back again to learn more.”                          – Dhan Tamang, executive sous chef, Army Navy Club, Washington D.C.

“This was the first class I’ve participated in. The knowledge and expertise of Chef Werner was amazing. The pairings of flavors and textures! The hands-on experience really helped to make me feel that I could do this myself! Thank you for the great overall experience.” – Beth Ashby, co-owner, Mangia Italian Restaurant

“I enjoyed class with Chef William Werner. His energy and knowledge was very inspiring. I would highly recommend attending a class at PreGel America.” – Todd Richter, executive pastry chef, Prestonwood Country Club

“Great class! Chef Werner was very organized with a new approach to the classic presentation and flavor combinations. Great personality and easy to follow explanations.” Rene Olmeda, pastry chef instructor, Johnson & Wales University

“Love it! I will be back every year. Chef William was super fun and gave the best advice. The desserts were amazing. Thank you!” – Elsa Flores, pastry chef, dolce salato

Mental Health at Work

Written by guest blogger, Lynne Lee, human resources manager, PreGel America.  Published for Mental Health Awareness Month. 

 

Most people are familiar with clowns – comical, mime-like performers who dress up in colorful, elaborate costumes and wigs, oftentimes with a huge smile painted on their made-up faces in effort to bring other people joy. How many times have we, or someone we know, employed the “clown” mentality of smiling although something just wasn’t right? And how severe is the “something” that is not right?

 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 300 million people suffer from depression—the leading cause of disability—globally, with many of this group also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. And with so many people silently suffering, why are these cases not reported more often? Stigma.

 

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist

 

Most employees are afraid to discuss their illnesses with colleagues and employers due to fear of job loss, damaged relationships, or the ability to find future employment, which is why approximately 85% of mental health conditions in the workplace are untreated. This silence lends itself to expensive results for employers, as according to Life, the blog published by www.huffpost.com, mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year.

 

However, as business leaders, you can help. Web resource www.mentalhealthamerica.net suggests some of following examples to consider:

  • Provide access to Employee Assistance Programs that deal with stress-related, emotional, and psychiatric pressures
  • Provide adequate mental health coverage
  • Create a comfortable environment where mental health concerns can be discussed without fear

 

The “clown” mentality in the workplace doesn’t have to be a commonality when resources are available to help make those smiles authentic.

Dessert Herbs for Spring

Written by guest blogger, Christiane Carter, Marketing Support Specialist, PreGel America,  just in time for spring!

 

It’s not unheard of for culinary artists to branch out and try new, adventurous ingredients when they create show-stopping recipes. Nowadays, the race to discover new herbs and their culinary uses is trending, and I’ve listed a few uncommon herbs for you to try in your next gelato recipe below.

 

Green Shiso:

Perilla Frutescens, more famously known as Green Shiso, is an herb with two other famous siblings (Red Shiso and Korean Shiso) and is indigenous to the Asian continent. Green Shiso is best known as an accompaniment to classic Japanese sashimi, as it has a sterilizing property and a flavor that pairs well with fresh fish.

It packs a subtle peppery punch similar to mint with a complex undertone of crisp apple. Try muddling a few bright green leaves with raw sugar, and sprinkle it atop your finest creamy coconut gelato to add a lively menthol kick to an otherwise overlooked classic flavor.

Pineapple Coriander Bloom Sorbetto

Lemon Balm:

Other than its zesty bite and slightly minty flavor, one of the most interesting things about lemon balm is that it’s common for beekeepers to plant them in strategic areas in their gardens close to their bee colonies in order to attract more bees and boost honey production. That’s why its genus name is Melissa Officinalis – “Melissa” is Greek for “Honey Bee”.

How fascinating… and inspiring! Try infusing the lemon balm in honey to drizzle or fold into a creamy Fior di Latte Gelato and dust it with crunchy pistachio pieces to experience the purest form of flavor. You can also add muddled leaves to your strawberry sorbet before you spin it to give the berries a more intense flavor with a refreshing after affect.

 

Violet:

Viola Odorata, otherwise known as Sweet Violets, are better known for the bejeweling qualities they provide to classic English gardens, but their floral and slightly sweet flavor is becoming popular in restaurants and pastry shops around the world. Most chefs add the flowers to spring salads paired with a drizzle of citrus-y vinaigrette, and pastry chefs like to coat them in sugar before decorating cupcakes, petit gateaux, and eclairs. Coating violet blossoms in sugar not only intensifies the flavor, but they prolong the beautiful features of the bloom.

 

PreGel Five Star Chef Pannacrema Violet Pastry Compound

 

PreGel featured this flavor at the 2018 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago paired with yogurt gelato to make a delicious duo. The pan was a swirl of fragrant sweetness and creamy tartness that was a pleasant interruption to the traditional and classic flavors that were available for the thousands of attendees that attended the trade show.

 

Elderflower:

Sambucus Nigra is the genus name of the elegant and fragrant Elderflower and is the blossom that proceeds the berries (elderberries) on the elder tree. Elderflowers have been used for centuries as a remedy for respiratory sickness and achy joints. It has also been discovered to act like insulin and lower blood sugar, which is perfect for anyone who has a problem overindulging in desserts, like me.

 

Pear and Violet Sorbetto

 

The blooms and the berries have very distinct and similar flavors. While the berries are juicy, tart, and sweet, the sprigs carry a heady Muscat grape fragrance and pairs beautifully with tart fruits like rhubarb, raspberries, and even granny smith apples. While more commonly used with pastries, you can still experiment with these bunches in your sorbetto flavors. Whip up an elderflower simple syrup that you can add to a Prosecco and Pear Sorbet.  Or you can make a refreshing sorbet by pairing it with cucumber and gin.

Boutique Style Petit Gateaux with Chef Amaury Guichon

In his return to the PreGel America 5-Star Pastry Series®, Chef Amaury Guichon, international pastry instructor, wowed chefs from all over the world with his out-of-the-box techniques and imaginative style. He demonstrated an array of boutique style petit gateaux, each inspired by day to day items such as mushrooms, coconuts, and much more.

 

The “Boutique Style Petit Gateaux” demonstration began by jumping directly into the heart of the desserts. The attendees watched closely as Chef Guichon moved quickly, making each layer to the petit gateaux, starting with the inside and working his way out. He brought individual molds for each item including 3-D printed components he custom made to bring each of his visions to life.

 

Chef Guichon talked about the importance of using everything in multiple ways from incorporating vanilla bean pods in their entirety in his old school praline, to using the underside of a silicon mold for the face of his Scaphandre.

Attendees’ eyes were opened to all the possibilities that he created as well as small tricks to ensure their products came out perfect every time. Chef Guichon demonstrated his knowledge for chocolate work by creating décor in front of the attendees and guiding them to work together to build the flower decoration for the beloved Fiona cake.

The chefs arrived from all over the United States including countries as far as Russia, Brazil, Trinidad, and Canada; representing restaurants, universities, hotels, bakeries,  and private yachts. The 3-day class finished with a large buffet of all the petit gateaux made over the duration of the three-day class.

 

The class ended with everyone toasting to a wonderful experience and indulging in all the delicious desserts that were created. Overall, the attendees learned multiple new techniques and left with a newfound pastry community to continue their growth in the industry with the knowledge they gained from Chef Guichon.

 

Student Testimonials

 

“The PreGel America class with Amaury Guichon has been an unforgettable experience that anyone within the world of pastry could learn from. From seasoned professionals to the pastry novice, everyone will walk away gaining something special.”  – Michael Santos, executive pastry chef, Anne Arundel Community College

 

“It was a very interesting and informative  masterclass. I will be glad to visit again!” – Ugleva Viktoriia, chef, Mousse Pastry Shop

 

Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend a class of such a high class chef. The organization was amazing. Looking forward to coming back for some other class.” – Vera Arbatskaya, chef, Candice NY

 

“This has been an amazing class! We’ve been taught new techniques as well as new ways to do established processes.” Christine DiGiorgio, owner, Sweet Sugars Cookies

 

“Incredible experience! Nothing but good things to say about your 5-Star program. This is my second 5-Star program and I would recommend this highly to the chefs who are looking for ongoing inspiration and learning.” – Regina Lee, owner, Gaia Kitchen

 

“Wonderful, inspirational experience! The class taught many new techniques and skills that I can’t wait to use. I would love to come back!” Hailee McDonald, chef de partie-pastry, JW Marriott – Nashville

 

“As always, great opportunity to learn from the best in the industry. The class was very interesting and we learned so much. Amaury is incredible. His attention to detail is beyond normal understanding. Thanks to PreGel products for helping to create the best experiences for our guests!” – Gregory Arrendell, pastry chef, Hyatt Regency, Trinidad

 

“This class was perfect. I learned many techniques from the chef, and the organization at PreGel was excellent.” – Jefferson Francisco, sous chef, private yacht

 

“Loved every minute of these classes. I learned so much. Also, the staff at PreGel was so kind and helpful.” Johna L. Mason, owner, Momma Johna’s Cakes & Coffee

 

“Great class! I’ve learned new techniques that I look forward to trying out.” –  Ashley F. Cutrona, pastry chef de partie, JW Marriott – Nashville

 

“This was an amazing class! Lots of techniques, lots of information, fantastic chef! All the organization was just perfect!” – Yuliya Skokava, owner, Tasty Academy

 

“Chef Guichon teaches with ease, knowledge, experience, and a considerable amount of wit. PreGel feels like home and all the staff is incredibly welcoming. The ingenuity of the various finishing techniques really inspire me to rethink both old and new ideas.” – Elizabeth Zylka, chef, private yacht

 

“Great class. A class to remember. Thank you so much to the PreGel team. You  guys do an excellent job.” – Carlos Sierra, Dolce Cafe

 

“It was a wonderful experience to attend this class. The creativity was beyond my expectations! It was something I didn’t even imagine. Thoroughly enjoyed the class.” Rosie Herbert, co-owner, Momma Johna’s Cakes & Coffee

 

 

Prepare for a Trade Show

Written by guest blogger, Christiane Carter, Events & Marketing Specialist, PreGel America

If you get the chance to attend an industry trade show, you’ll be given countless opportunities to learn new techniques, discover new technology, and encounter new trends in your industry… but watch out. If you go unprepared, trade shows that aim to create exciting and energetic environments can also overwhelm and confuse you.

 

Once you’ve decided which trade shows you’ll attend, create a strategy of how you’ll navigate the whirlwind of activities, educational sessions, and crowded exhibition halls in order to receive the kind of enriching experience you want.

 

Before you head to the registration desk to pick up your attendee badge, here are three simple things you should do to prepare:

 

  1. Verify that your current vendors are attending and what new products or services they’ll feature. Who knows? You might cook up a new concept, or realize that a new goal is within easy reach just by continuing a tried-and-true business relationship.
  2. Research trends that you want to incorporate into your concept and create a list of items to track down at the show. When you’re there, keep it at the forefront of your mind; that way you’ll be harder to distract when irrelevant vendors try to gain your attention and time.
  3. Check the schedule of educational sessions and match it up with short or long term goals you’re hoping to achieve in your business. Most trade shows do a fabulous job of booking experts in their fields who are motivational as well as instructive.