Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How Sweet!

This is a photo post that I'm sure will make your mouth water. But first...

Most of you know I am a contractor. Painting houses, installing drywall, and applying specialty concrete coatings is what I do for a living. Yada, yada, yada.

What you may not know is that prior to this I spent several years in the restaurant biz, fifteen to be exact. I started this journey as a dishwasher and I knew from the very first day that scrubbing pots and pans was not my life's ambition. Working harder and faster than any of my amigos proved to be well worth the extra effort as I was promoted to a prep cook within a very short amount of time. From there I worked in every aspect of the restaurant, bus boy, line cook, waiter and so forth until at the ripe old age of eighteen I had earned the privilege of becoming the assistant manager of a very popular eatery in northern California, Jeremiah's Steak House.

Having to be in charge of employees who sometimes had more years in the business than I had on the planet was extremely challenging at times. It required that I be the boss and the student of the trade all at the same time. As it turned out I ended up leaving that job much more educated than I had ever dreamed of in two short years, but ready for something a bit less stressful.

Over the next several years I would work in a variety of restaurants, settling in on the kitchen as my area of comfort. It was at a winery/restaurant Chateau Souvereign that I was introduced to the world of desserts and pastry. The chef was a flaming nut job by the name of Gary Danko. He was the biggest pain in the backside I've ever worked for, but also one of the most brilliant chef's too.

Several years later I would have the chance to go to the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. This is the world famous cooking school's west coast extension. The owner of the winery that I worked for at the time, Ken DeBaun, picked up the tab for my formal education at the school. Can you say, "Cha-Ching!"

The following year, my beautiful wife Lisa was also able to take some classes there. The one class we both took was "Plated Desserts" taught by an incredible pastry chef by the name of Bo Friberg. This man lived and breathed pastry, and he was an absolute genius in a white coat.

The pictures below are all desserts Lisa made. I of course, neglected to take a camera with me to school. I wish I would have had a blog back then, because I know I'd of had a camera. Oh well.

Lisa with Chef Bo

Gingered Pineapple

Frozen Yogurt

Baklava with
Mascarpone Bavarian
and Cherry Sauce

Creme Caramel


Wine Foam and
Blackberry Bavarian

Valentine's Day Heart

Red Current Bavarian

Cappucino Mousse
with Sambuca Cream
in a Chocolate Cup

Everything you see on the plates is 100% edible and 100% Delicious.

Can my baby cook or what?


Jules~ said...

Wow! They are all so amazing and beautiful works of art! That takes skill, talent, and patience in my book.
If I had to choose one to destroy by sticking in my mouth, I think I would have to go with the chocolate mousse and cup creation.
It would seem such a shame to eat it though after it being such a beauty.

Ron said...

Ok, Jeff...please tell Lisa that I would like order 5 each of these incredible SWEETS!!

(and I'll pay her in blog posts)

WOW!!! Lisa...WAY TO GO!!!

No kidding, their ALL beautiful and mouth-watering!

YUMMY, YUMMY! All I need to go with them is a nice espresso and then I can go FLYING around the room!

Hey, and thanks for sharing your backround in the BIZ, Jeff. I know from my brother, that it's hard work. But you did it, and I bet you're an awesome culinary guy, yourself!

GREAT post!

Jeni said...

Well Jeff, we share a working background in food service -I have about 15 years total time served, often feeling like I'd already died and gone to Hell in a handbasket, particularly where I worked as an asst. manager of a truck stop restaurant. I used to enjoy cooking, not so much anymore but I have no talent whatsoever and not near enough patience either to mess with things like these desserts. (Don't have enough coins either to risk in making stuff like that in the event they get all messed up too by me!)
Beautiful desserts, for sure, though they are. Big Kudos for your wife on those items.

R.E.H. said...

Wow! These are some awesome looking deserts. Only thing that worries me is that if someone serves that up to me... I'm not sure I'd have the heart to eat it - wouldn't want to ruin something so nice!

CrystalChick said...

Beautiful wife with some serious skills. What more could a man want? Those desserts really are amazing!
I let my hubby get a bag of Chips Ahoy at the grocery store last night. As long as he doesn't do any blog reading, I'm safe for now. ;)

buffalodickdy said...

They looked like magazine cover perfect! Food sometimes becomes Art!

Matt-Man said...

Very Nice. I see where the talent in your family lies. ; ) Cheers Jeff!!

Dana said...

Wow! Those aren't deserts - those are works of art!

Jeff B said...

Jules- That would be a good one to choose. Awesome flavor combination. For the cup we would dip chocolate into a balloon and after it hardened, let the air out. Net result, a perfectly smooth cup.

Ron- We both loved the creative aspect, but the long, goofy hours and crapy pay are why we don't do it anymore.

Jeni- "Died and gone to hell in a handbasket." Spoken like somebody who knows the business well! Been there, experienced that.

REH- After the first bite you don't mind tearing into them because they taste every bit as good as they look.

Crystalchick- At least you brought him cookies. Trust me that is a much easier way to go.

Buffalo- The thing I love about dessert making is that the end result is always so beautiful.

Matt- ha ha, That's the nicest left handed conpliment I've had all week.

Dana- She did an amazing job for sure.

Leighann said...

Those look fantastic! Why can't veggies look like that? ;)

Rhea said...

They're each little works of art! You need to print and frame and put them in your kitchen. yummy.

Very cool you were able to take lessons at that culinary institute! I could sure use some lessons on cooking. :o)

San said...

Jeff, you lucky devil--you have a beautiful wife who can create pure magic with pastries! A feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

And I absolutely LOVED reading about your restaurant career.

You are one amazing man, my friend.

Anndi said...

I sneezed on the last one... it's TOTALLY mine now! bwahahahahahaha!!!


Does she still make those?

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Your baby can cook. Yes. It certainly did make my mouth water too. Yummy. Thanks for sharing a very large piece of your past. Have a great day and thank Lisa for being a hugh part of this post. :)

Bond said...

I will be over tonight...tell Lisa to make mine yummy

Akelamalu said...

Those are not desserts! They are works of art!

And you must be handy to have in the kitchen with all that experience. :)

kevin wecker said...

The desserts you two make are masterfully delicious! Wow!

And by mere coincidence, I happened to blog about your talents on my blogsite today...

Interesting, eh?

Mel said...


And I burn mac and cheese.....

HOLY moley!

Well done, Lisa!
(and good snag, Jeff! LOL)

katherine. said...

while they are actually beautiful...I bet they taste amazing!

I second mel....nice snag....you married up didn't ya?

Sandi McBride said...

Okay, you had me at Baklava. And I need a pantry built...I would have said I'd pay in chicken fried steak and bicuits, but seems you might be able to out cook me!

nitebyrd said...

Those are amazing! She has incredible talent. I'm thrilled when the Mrs. Smith's comes out of the tin without falling apart. Gods! those are beautiful.

Jeff B said...

Leighann- Great point!

Rhea- It was an increadible learning experience.

San- She is awesome!

Anndi- That made me laugh!

sandee- Will do. I think I could write posts for a month straight about some of the restaurant days.

Bond- Come on over, there's always plenty to go around.

Akelamalu- Most of the time we cook seperately, but when we combine our forces on a project it's really fun.

Kevin- That was a fun read. Poor little slice of cake.

Mel- I done good didn't I?

Katherine- That is the cool thing. Once you bite into them they just get better.

Married up?...You becha!

Sandi- Will work for CFS & Biscuts.
That would make a good cardboard sign.

BTW I love down home cooking.

Nitebyrd- Believe it or not, we've been known to break out the frozen pies too. Funny how when you have kids, your cooking ambition changes.

Gene Bach said...

Yeah, whatever. Did you listen to me when I said, "Hey Jeff, why don't you put the cheese on the inside of the bagel?" NOPE! You moron! We could have both been rich but nooooooooooo, you knew better.

Did I mention the fact that I recently saw cheese on the inside tater tots?


Travis said...

You are a lucky man! Those look amazing.

Nicole P said...

Those are fantastic looking desserts.
And what an interesting background you have. Quite diverse.
I spent many many many years as a waitress or server as they call it now, or a bartender so I know all about those crappy hours.
And sometimes the people are hard to deal with as well.
But hey, nice to know you are a contractor now. There are a few half finished projects in my house ranging from 3 months old to 5 years old. Wanna tackle a few. Cause I am slowly coming to terms with the reality that my husband is never going to finish them.

Jeff B said...

Gene- May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your armpits!

Travis- Lucky indeed.

Nicole- I like to tell my customers that I can build or remodel their kitchen and then teach them how to use it.

I'd love to give you a hand, but I'm affraid the commute would be a killer. I'm in the Portland Oregon area.

jennifer said...

The desserts are lovely but your wife is GORGEOUS!!! Interesting details about you!


Roger said...

"MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM" "MMMMMMMMMMMMMM"!! (my favorite line from What About Bob) "MMMMMMMMMM"

kelly ann said...

Jeff, do guys hire out? Or do you need a someone to taste your new creations? I work cheap! Just feed me!!

Odat said...

Sweet!!!! And I'm sure she continues to this day to make this wonderful desserts for you, right????? ahahahaha.
and btw, what's with those hats???

jennifer said...

Hello! I linked you in my post today.


Rhea said...

I have never done a MEME before, and I was tagged with one today for the first time. So, I had to tag six more people, and you're one of them!

Don't feel like you have to do it. It won't hurt my feelings if you don't. But, I thought you'd like to know I talked about you and linked to your blog in the post. :o)

Anndi said...

It just dawned on me that there are no pics of desserts made with bananas... hmmmmmmmm....


Patti said...

What gorgeous desserts!
It would be a shame to break into any of them.

Interesting to read about your first career, Jeff.

Lu' said...

Hi Jeff, hopped over from Doc and Mt Cat. Those pictures are spectacular, wow. I truely admire her talent.

Jeff B said...

Jenifer- She is a babe! My little Italian Stallionette.

Thanks for the link.

Roger- You might want to get some 409 and clean the M key, looks like it's stuck.

Kelly Ann- I'll have to keep you in mind the next time she gets creative.

Odat- Fortunately for my waist line these are not a normal occurance around the house. I always hated wearing those dorky hats!

Rhea- You're no longer a meme virgin! I'll check it out and put it in the list of thing to accomplish. thanks

Anndi- You turkey!

Patti- I'll probably do some more posts about my restaurant days.

Lu- Welcome. Nice to have you visit.

Anndi said...

I'm a stinker aren't I? SMOOCH!

Kimmie said...

Jeff, not only do you make beautiful children together, I bet you make beautiful food together also! You wife is a beauty, and her talent is priceless.

My hubby and I go to a restaurant when the funds are good, and they serve desserts like that. I just sit and have to stare at it and take in its beauty before I can eat it. There is nothing like having food of any kind served to you such a beautiful way. Sort of like a masterpiece for the tummy.

Thank You for sharing Lisa and her talents with us. You are a very blessed man.