Saturday, the Park Hyatt Washington DC held its three sold out classes for the seasonal Masters of Food and Wine culinary event.Â I personally got to attend the “Spring Rhubarb Tart with Almond Crumble and Cherry Blossom Sorbet” class with Blue Duck Tavern Pastry Chef Peter Brett.
This particular class was very intimate, only six people, which was fitting because it took place in the open pastry kitchen which you cannot miss as you enter the open airy Blue Duck Tavern.Â Tony Chi, the designer, brilliantly placed the kitchen there so guests are greeted with an enticing mouth-watering beckoning call sweet treats (one can always catch a whiff of their daily made apple pies and other pastry delights), even before they set foot into the main dining room. Talk about whetting ones appetite.
Now baking is less of an art and more of a science.Â It’s about perfect measurements, temperatures, and exactness.Â It’s not about a dash of this and a guess of that. Since I’m no cook (nor baker) I relied on listening to Chef Peter’s careful instructions and demonstrations.Â He invited us to ask questions about pastries, baking, his life as a chef, his favorite sweets (ice cream), a kitchen nightmare (which happened so long ago, another lifetime ago and only had to do with floral arrangement on cakes turning black in the freezer, but alas, all was saved), his love of baking which originated when he was a child (he went onto university for art, then learned he could go professional with his passion in the kitchen) and how he really enjoys teaching and doing demos. This was one of three demonstrations he hadDione this week one of which was for NBC4.
I was a bit apprehensive at first being such a novice, but with Peter’s patient guidance and gentile manners my fear was overcome.Â He said part of why he likes teaching is when the students really “get it”, there is a feeling of real satisfaction. From the looks of the end results, the six of us really did “get it”.Â The three sets of two-somes came from Houston and New York and Dupont Circle, then there was us, from McLean and Arlington, so the mother and daughter who came the from furthest away we praised highly (hey, it’s a testament as to the value of these learning experiences).
The class was held in the afternoon from 3pm-530pm and included Champagne before during and after. When we were finished, we gathered at one of the communal tables in the Lounge to converse with each other, taste a few other pastries from the menu, all though knowing our finished baked product was about to come out piping hot with a perfect scoop of the sorbet kept us from ruining our appetites with other sweets. Chef Peter retrieved us from our break to plate our brown crusty tarts in the kitchen then we returned back to the table for bubbles and bites.
The great thing about these classes is that they are small so that each participant has equal time to ask the chef questions and really gain value from his or her experience there, plus not only do you interact with some really nice people, you get to take your finished product home with you (we also got to keep the dough we made and our aprons).Â You learn a lot (the difference between an American and a French rolling pin, how to make the perfect friendly pastry dough, a few other tricks of the trade, where to work with your dough – marble, because it stays cold, where you find rhubarb, which is NOT Southern – first found in Washington State, and so much more) and you have FUN.
To learn more about the Masters of Food and Wine, please go to www.mastersfoodandwine.com.
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.