[All photos in this post are courtesy of E at Heaven in a Wild Flower, who was the fabulous FOH at the supperclub the night I guest chef-ed (I would also like to add that she's mightily talented in cooking, design, photography above everything else that she's also good at)!]
Some of you may have read that I made my first ever guest chef appearance recently on 13 November 2011, at the Plusixfive supperclub no less, and I thought it would be nice to document my experience here. It was a real eye-opener for me to be changing gears on what I usually do, as I’m more of an amateur home cook who siphons off the excess things that come out of my kitchen to willing friends. To actually bake for something which I’ve been commissioned for, to offer my pastries to paying customers, now that is a different ball game. To sum it up, it was a daunting albeit rewarding experience for me, and I wouldn’t have embarked on it if Goz, head chef at Plusixfive, hadn’t bambi-eyed me into it (read this to see how a grown man manages to do this!).
Gula melaka salted caramel buttercream macarons
This was made even more challenging, when my oven decided to go kaput on my macarons the week before. I was getting cracked macarons left, right and center with the same recipe that have always worked for me, and I had no idea what went wrong. I panicked quite a bit as I didn’t want to disappoint Goz and his guests, so I made batches after batches of macarons to test out every variable (as I would have in my past life as a scientist before I made a career switch), and finally narrowed it down to an overheating oven. The odd thing was the oven didn’t have any effect on my other baked goods, and my conclusion was macarons are just extremely sensitive to heat. This was affirmed when I tried some new steps that I’ve now included on top of my usual recipe (not posted yet), which thankfully gave me beautiful macarons once again, just in time for the supperclub. I also spent a good amount of time tweaking my lychee chiffon cake recipe to perfection, and even had my husband mule some lychee essence back from Singapore to do this. A few hours before the supperclub on 13 November, I was absolutely relieved to get everything done in time for the guests.
Lychee chiffon cake
So after the nightmare that was the oven, you can imagine how anxious I was in having ‘em desserts meet the customers, especially since Goz was serving up his famous (and very very very yummy, I can attest to this) gula melaka ice cream right before my macarons and chiffon cake were presented to the guests! But I am glad to report that they received positive reviews despite the oven drama that I went through, and despite the fact that Goz set really high standards with his gula melaka ice cream. Some supperclub guests asked how I made the macarons and chiffon, others asked if they could order baked goods from me in future, some were wowed by the macarons, others were bowled over by the chiffon cake. I was just buzzing with nerves and excitement, then flooded with relief when everyone went home feeling happy about the desserts (or at least, they pretended to, being very cordial people they are!). T, one of the guests, left a comment on my Facebook page on the chiffon cake, and Jen who writes at Hungry Tiger Thirsty Dragon gave us some glowing reviews on the desserts.
Jen has kindly given me permission to quote an excerpt from her review here:
Desserts were the highlight of the evening: the gula melaka ice-cream was divine, salty-sweet with gorgeous caramelised notes. Guest-chef desserts were courtesy of Rachel of The Pleasure Monger: gula melaka macarons and lychee chiffon cake. The macarons were so good I could forgive the double-dose of gula melaka, and the chiffon cake was wonderfully airy and fresh.
Did I learn anything from this? Yes, a hell lot! Did I gain some confidence, which I’ve been told I severely lack? Yes, a teeny bit. Would I do this again? Yes, why not! Did I have fun? Without a doubt!
There you go, my first guest chef experience, and hopefully more to come.
Before I go, I’d also like to say that Goz’s rendang is DA BOMB, and personally, I would die for it. M gushed, ‘Man, Goz CAN cook!!’ as he fought me off with his spoon when I tried to stake a claim on the rendang. So, I’m urging you to sign up for the Plusixfive supperclub – hop on over here to find out how. Read these reviews if you’re not convinced! And scroll on for some snapshots of what you missed at the supperclub!