Thanksgiving Meal #2. Sunday roast staff meal at Lawrence — standing rib roast, crispy brussels sprouts, stewed cabbage, and mini yorkshire puddings (I use Hugh’s recipe!). Considering how chaotic brunch service gets, I’m pretty proud at how well we pulled this one together.
A few weeks ago, the team at Lawrence competed in the annual Gold Medal Plates competition, a charity event featuring Canadian chefs cooking their signature dishes for hundreds of people. Marc was invited to participate in the Quebec event, and we all helped him out. I felt like I finally had a taste of what it would be like hustling on one of those insane Top Chef challenges — complete with copious amounts of running back and forth between our display table and the onsite kitchens — and we took home a bronze medal! The dish? The ultimate marriage of sweet and salty: crispy pork cheek and mustard sauce atop a mini apple tart tatin. I’ve never made more puff pastry in my life.
You can’t quite tell in this photo, but buried under that mountain of delicious mashed avocado is another loaf of victory bread. Right now, this black bread is my favorite thing at Lawrence — it’s compact, hearty, and intensely savory, thanks to traces of espresso grounds, molasses, butter, chopped shallots, fennel seeds, caraway seeds, bran flakes, and rye flour. (If you’d like to make something similar, this recipe looks lovely). When our black bread comes out of the oven, the smell is really unbelievable. All this black bread really needs is a thick smear of salted butter, but in the morning I’ve been eating it with chopped avocado, lemon juice, and lots of black pepper.
Also, I know I’m so behind on the NYFW chatter, but I finally looked at Rachel Comey’s spring collection and I just can’t. It’s all so beautiful, especially those crop tops and that high necked chartreuse dress. I’ll just imagine that I’m wearing those breezy white numbers while lounging in Greece with Adam — lucky dude gets to go there in a few weeks!
Things have seemed a little quiet around here, haven’t they? The truth is, I’ve never been busier in my life.
Somewhere around the end of July, Marc Cohen of Lawrence — one of my very favorite restaurants in the city — approached me with the opportunity of a lifetime. Was I interested in being his new assistant pastry chef, he asked. My first thought was: I’m no pastry chef. I never went to pastry school, and I’m definitely self-taught. I’m more of a writer, an observer, a consumer. And I felt so safe and cozy being part of the Depanneur Le Pick Up family, making brownies and cupcakes and granola bars. This was something else altogether, something strange and scary.
There was so much doubt and nervousness, but also excitement. (Let’s just say there were a lot of pep talks delivered from loved ones.) But I wanted the job. Badly. Even if I meant that I would fail. So I did my trial shift, finished my training, and now I’m officially Lawrence’s assistant pastry chef. Things are different but the same — I’m working in a kitchen with people I really respect, learning about an art that I’m totally in love with, at a pace and in an environment that’s challenging, exhilarating, exhausting, gorgeous, and surreal. (I mean, just take a peep at this beautiful menu!)
I was worried that my crazy new schedule (50 hours a week! What was I thinking!) would affect the amount of time that I would get to hang with Adam. But then I woke up one morning, tired and overwhelmed and missing him, and found a little present on my doorstep. Half of a perfect watermelon, a market gift from him to me. I need these sweet reminders from the people who believe in me, and share my excitement.
I’ll keep writing here, but I was thinking that the content will shift. I want to write more about this new restaurant life, my new pastry skills, my new insane schedule. Life is so weird. Here I am, a California girl making pastry in Montreal. I never, ever would have imagined this would be my life. But I am so grateful.