I spent the day at the Central Park Boathouse yesterday, my former workplace for those who don’t know. Hard to believe it has been over six months since I last set foot in the kitchen there. Their search for a new Pastry Chef has proven a bit harder than anticipated, so they called me in to do a bit of consulting on a new menu. Most of the items on the current menu have been there since I left last November, and over time they seem to have evolved into desserts that I no longer recognize as my own. Garnishes have been eliminated, recipes have been changed to make production easier, and so on. I know the job better than anyone else, so I was happy to help them out for one or two days a week.
My first task is to redesign the entire dessert menu. I actually managed to put together four new desserts yesterday – it’s amazing how much you can get done when you’re not worried about the day to day operations of the restaurant and can just focus on creating. I made a raspberry-almond tart, a ricotta cheesecake with tarragon roasted peaches, some roasted pineapple with lychee gelée and coconut foam, and a chocolate almond torte with dulce de leche and spicy peanuts. They all need some minor adjustments, but in general were very well received by all who tried them. Alas, the owner is on vacation, so the final and most important judgment will have to wait until then. I’m just happy that I can still find my way around a restaurant kitchen after being out so long!
One more thing has changed at the Boathouse since I left. They have started a recycling AND a composting program, which is very admirable, especially for a restaurant of that size. I have long felt that restaurants are one of the most wasteful industries, but if the Boathouse (which is not really known for being well-organized) can keep it up, they will certainly set a good example for others. Apparently most of the Boathouse’s trash was either compostable or recyclable, so now their current garbage output is a mere fraction of what is was before. Kudos!