Bakerboy From Lyon


In the zone

So I got to work and drank an energy drink and then slept for about 30min on top of the freezer before Alexandre woke me up when he got there. Got changed and onto the work...

We were banging out the bread like machines...Alexandre used the divider to do some rustically shaped baguettes while I did all the biological bread and misc. shapes. By the time Benjamin came in at 2 we were almost done with everything. I got onto mixing all the other dough’s like kamut and spelt, viennoise and seigle Auvergne. The seigle Auvergne came out flippen sexy, with beautiful colouration and cracks. And I divided and shaped the viennoise on my own as well, as Benjamin was pretty slow even though he only had the white dough to do.

I honestly was in the zone, not talking much, just kept my head down and got shit done. I love that feeling or over tired second wind energy where you just go with everything. Alexandre mixed a rye recipe with some orange juice and zest in it which is an interesting idea.

After cleaning we were done around 10:30 and I was exhausted as once the work slows down, fatigue starts to creep in, but still pushed on. Oh and Bonnie is pregnant!!! You can see her belly swelling up already. She’s so cute...and I feel very protective of her but she still runs around and chases things like normal.
Ah and the ginger beer I brewed was really good. It could’ve fermented a bit more but it’s so cold at night that it couldn’t be helped.

When I got home I passed out hard, but only after cooking and doing some washing J and I woke up late!!! I had set my alarm but I only woke up after the rugby test match between SA and France had started. Anyway, I rushed to King Arthur where Alex, Pierre, Hugo and a beer were already waiting for me. Was a bit shit because they had some chick singing so they had no volume on the game but then again the French are more into their soccer.

The game wasn’t that great but SA beat France so no worries...  I bought a round of 3 pints of that awesome banana bread beer for Alex, Hugo and myself and when I got my sms for the transaction I was shocked...20 plus euros came to R275 for 3 pints!!!! They must’ve upped the prices a bit as its December but still...for that price I could buy 2 cases of beer back home. Oh well. It was a good night.

Everyone was hungry so we decided to go to McDonalds which was the first time I was going to one in France. They have a really cool system where you put your order through on a touch screen and pay for it, then just wait with your ticket until its ready. It’s so efficient and would really be better for SA I think. They also give you an option of potato wedges which I thought was really cool.


Fond u

Good day of production today...except for the fact that I weighed of the chataigne recipe with just the chestnut flour instead of the to compensate we changed the recipe and ended up with enough bread for the week so we just precooked most of it and stored it in the freezer.

I was invited to the official house warming of Alex and his housemate Hugo for dinner so I met up at their place around 8pm. I was a little delayed because there was something delaying the metro and once they got it working there was a bottleneck of people so the first 3 trains were too full: p

Finally once I got there I was welcomed by everyone but luckily wasn’t the last to arrive. In the meanwhile we played some COD Blackops multiplayer on Xbox. Alex’s younger brother is really good and kicked my ass, albeit not too much ...but if I was on a pc I would’ve totally owned him.

For snacks we had some dried sausage (not droewors [South African dried sausage], but saucisson sec) and some lovely sardine pate which was almost like a gourmet fish paste on some bread. As well as some Beaujolais wine (wine from the new season) which was really fruity and light in alcohol.

Finally we got down to the main event: RACLETTE! They bought half a wheel of raclette cheese which was cut up into small slabs, plates of charcuterie including ham, Parma ham, salami, coppa, mortadella, “bacon” as they called it, potatoes and more bread. So there was a small machine with and element underneath and everyone had a little pan where you put your cheese into and slid underneath to melt. There is a warm plate in top which kept the taters nice and hot too.

So you cut up your charcuterie into smaller, bite size pieces and pour the melted cheese over your taters and charcuterie and chow like that. It’s a really cool, communal eating experience. Although one guy mixed his charcuterie and potatoes together and made a paste almost...which looked disgusting and is think is kinda disrespectful to the host and the food but anyway, not my house.

I ate so much though and we only finished after 23:00 so I decided to go straight to work as Alexandre and I had decided to start at 00:30....


Cat & ‘mousse’

Today was a standard push...

But after all the bread was done being baked we got stuck onto decorating the gingerbread houses. Mr Pozzoli coated the roofs with chocolate and then sprinkled some hail sugar down the sides, then Alexandre and Alex piped on some royal icing which is 6 parts icing sugar to 1 part egg whites. Looks almost like meringue but it’s more like a grainy paste texture. We made a crap load of the base and then mixed small amounts of green and red icing as well. So Alex and Alexandre did the edge of the roofs, chimneys and ledge, making it looks like the snow was built up.

Afterwards we put little mushrooms and Santa Clauses on which were made of jellies and icing! I piped on vines and leaves and then little red berries. We had a nice production line going and we were literally on our knees sometimes in order to get the icing on.

They also made “longhopf” which is a sort of Austrian brioche with rum-soaked raisins, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts and specific alsacean spices. It’s baked in a clay mould and afterwards is brushed with melted butter and dusted in cinnamon brown sugar. Looks sick! Mmm I wish is could stay to still see all of the products that get produced but I’m already looking forward to coming home.

I found Bonnie playing with a small mouse in the afternoon. The poor thing’s heart was beating so fast and you could see that it was almost dead. But Bonnie would just chase it then pick it up in her mouth and then play with it again. So is did what is thought was best and killed the mouse. It was pretty gruesome as when I stepped on it, crushed everything and I felt a bit bad but at least it was a quick, albeit brutal death.

It’s still super cold as heater is on permanently J


It’s raining snow!

Standard day today, except for the part where Izam made an 80kg poolish O_o  ha-ha is have no idea what he did with the autolyse but there was a layer of flour on the inside of the mixer that just did not get hydrated. Alexandre eventually had to add an additional 7 kg of flour... my guess is Izam probably added 10 litres too much water. Benjamin was ok in that he wasn’t too slow or didn’t make any mistakes.

I helped Alexandre bake some biscuits in the afternoon. A really practical system where you lightly brush a sheet of silicone paper with water then place an inverted cutter mould sheet on top (so sharp edge is facing up) then sheet your biscuit dough and then place over the sheet mould, covered by a silpat  mat and then use a rolling pin to “cut” out the biscuits by rolling over the dough. As Alexandre likes to say “it’s a factory” J
I was feeling pretty tired after work so went down to the cellar and just lay on the flour for like 10 min and played with the cats. I’m going to miss them when I leave...

It’s snowing!!!! I almost couldn’t believe it this morning when is saw the soft white flakes dancing down into the street. So after a nice hot shower and layering up as best I could I ventured out. Bloody hell it was flippen cold. The ground was also slippery as hell. Had to watch my step. Snow is a lot more mystical and romantic when your face isn’t freezing and you aren’t covered in tiny pieces of slowly melting ice.

The houses and trees looked sick with that fluffy white layer on them though. And is walked past a mom playing with her little kid in the snow, making snowballs and throwing them at each other.
Walked around a bit and took some pics, then popped into L’Atelier des Boulangers and bought a tarte tout chocolate, pain au cacao and a mini sandwich with jambon cru and ricotta. The pain au cacao was really cool...a chocolate bread with chocolate chips.  A slice of that toasted for breakfast with bananas and syrup would be sick. Or even a nice orange and ginger marmalade or something like that.

Gonna be brewing some ginger beer tomorrow...representing baby! Really looking forward to sunny South Africa now though...more baking, dnb [drum ‘n bass ] and krav maga await!!


Burger Bun Bonanza

So we had that big order for mini burger buns...20g pieces. What a pain in the ass.
Alexandre and I started at 1am so by the time Benjamin came in at 2 we were almost done with everything. I was on mixing the dough and in between shaping and dividing dough. Day was going pretty good for most of the day but Benjamin is just unreliable...he had to mix some dough’s and didn’t know base temperatures or mixing times etc. and was asking Izam who is an apprentice stagiare. We had another stagiare today, only for 2 weeks, a 15 year old kid named Nicolas.

Interestingly these stages are organised in conjunction with schools and all kids do them. I think it’s a great idea as I never forget my 1 week job shadowing at the Mount Nelson.
Although the kid lacked initiative and interest. And when he asked to take a break and was told he could have 1 hour he said it was too short. I almost flipped when I heard that. Wtf is he doing here? It’s only 7 hours. Maybe I’m too hard but I am a firm believer in hard work and that you don’t get anywhere by sitting in the back seat, but whatever.

A former stagiare visited as well, Indra, a 25 year old Mexican who just recently acquired French nationality. He’s been studying and working in France for about 7 years now. He told me it was always a dream of his to become a chef so he actually studied at institute Paul Bocuse as well and knows chef Berthomier. He’s a really cool guy and he, Alexandre and I went for a beer and burger at Ninkasi just next to the bakery.

We had a good time talking about mentalities in the industry and the f***ed up legal system in France. I found out that if you catch an employee stealing something you can’t just fire All the laws really f*** the small business owner. Like our cleaning lady who has claimed sick and hasn’t been to work for over a month but is still getting paid. And Alexandre can’t fire her either... seems that if you’re stuck with a shit employee there’s nothing you can do.

I prefer coming in an hour earlier...much nicer and it reminds me of coming in 2 hours before all the other staff...just much smoother knocking everything else out. So Alexandre and I are starting at 1 tomorrow so I’m gonna be off....


Everyone’s doin’ the ‘hustle’…Lausanne, here I come!

Today was pretty interesting as Alexandre was off for the weekend so it was Alex, Pierre, Izam and myself working. I was at the oven and everything was fine except for scoring one type of bread like another but it was able to make a change so there was a difference between the 2. We managed to get done pretty early and then cleaned down and were out after 10am. Nice life...

When it got home it didn’t want to leave stuff to do for when it returned so it did washing and cooked some stuff that might not have lasted and then just chilled for a bit before heading out about 1 hour before my train.
When it got to the station it was like a bee hive...crawling with people everywhere. I had to wait to see where my train would be so had to wait and look at the departures board for like 15 min...

While waiting some young girl came up to me asking for a donation for some handicapped organisation and was quite pushy about didn’t have any cash anyway so told her it didn’t and she was still like “just 2 euros”. Whatever. After waiting for a bit longer it saw there were 2 other girls also doing the same. Some guy then came up to them and looked pretty pissed (it just had my earphones in so it just watched everything happen) and asked for their papers then wanted to see what t-shirts they were wearing. They were wearing normal t-shirts...people from an organisation would have official t-shirts or at least t-shirts that were all the same with a logo or something. And after it thought about it, the donation sheet was photo copied too which should have raised alarms.

So this guy, a passenger, pretty much took their sheets and told them to piss off and the 3 girls just sulked off...embarrassed at being called out. Everyone’s trying to hustle hey...

Anyway, it got on my train no problem and it was really nicely fitted, even for second class. And like all the other public transport, you have to validate your ticket yourself before you get on (which it forgot to do since it thought trains have conductors but France is different) and if you get caught with a ticket that’s not validated they can fine you like 128 euros...once you’re on the train you can’t even do it which sucks ass. So it was kinda shitting my pants but luckily there was no one who came to check tickets the whole trip.
It was quite a pleasant trip to Geneva, even though the weather was pretty crappy. Once there it just had to walk to another platform to take my next train to Lausanne which was less than 30 min long. I was picked up by Emma and Anotonie (tony for short) ad we drove back to their place. Lausanne as a city is really cool and almost has a story book feeling with the leaves all changing colours and the tramlines and hills and curves and just a small, but busy town feeling really.

I had time to have a beer with Emma and Tony before Emma had to leave for work and tony went to watch a soccer game with some friends. No worries for me...had a shower and a little nap.
I woke up to the house phone was Emma’s friends who had come to pick me up to go to Emma’s restaurant. Cafe Bellini was pumping by the time we got there just before 10pm. We were 6 people...3 Swiss, 1 Brit and 1 Saffa [South African] actually. All were really cool people and conversation flowed nicely in French and English. I had a Grimbergen to start while everyone else had a south African red think was something like Vriesenhof or something. I’m not sure.

I ordered a small octopus salad. For 14 Swiss francs. That R140. [South African Rands] For a starter. Switzerland is f****** expensive.
It was awesome though...Emma gave me a big boy portion ;) it was chunks of the octopus, baby potatoes, pickled cauliflower a bit too strongly pickled...really over powered all the other subtle flavours, radishes, orange segments, fennel bulb, mixed leaves and basil pesto (I know Emma loves her basil pesto. It was a delightful dish and really filling too. We stayed quite a while and Emma joined us when she was finished and we had another bottle of wine... on our way out of the restaurant to a bar across the road, the barman gave Emma and me a shot of apricot eau de vie. The shot glass overflowed. Literally. Omw that stuff sets your throat on fire...and it’s not the kind of taste you want to think about when having a shot....urgh.

Ok, so across the road we went to a bar called “comptoir”, no idea what it means. Emma had her birthday party there so they still had a huge sign up saying “Gatsby gone wild”...nice small place with a bar and lounge area upstairs and a dance floor/bar downstairs. We moved between the two, having drinks and chatting and then dancing...if had looooads of fun. But the place closed at 3 am so we went ambling along to the next place. Oh one of Emma’s friends is a Xhosa guy who’s a doctor and entrepreneur and has been staying in Switzerland for 20 years so he speaks English, Xhosa and French... J

We briefly popped into a place called “13e” or “tresieme” meaning “thirteenth” in French. I don’t know what the significance of the name was. People were still dressed up in Halloween outfits as if suppose most couldn’t celebrate it during the week. It was a really cool place, built in the old part of Lausanne and had bars and dance floors in these ancient cellars pretty much. It was too crowded so we headed off to Darling which is where Emma’s fiancé works/manages.

That place was packed...kinda like a mix of Stones and Tiger Tiger but not formal...but nice pumping music and a square bar in the centre so they could serve people on 4 sides simultaneous which makes sense....and utter chaos. A double gin and tonic cost 13 francs...R130.that is INSANE! We ended up staying there until about 5 or something and then caught a cab home. I was pretty much off my trolley at this point but was still making sensible conversation. My body just was lagging behind :p Emma and if still stayed up until sometime between 6-7am talking and drinking wine and eating Lindt chocolate .


Thinking out of the box

Was awake from 4 am today and actually heard from Travis. Seems the fanny finally got a Malaysian sim [sim card for mobile phone]. We were talking about breads and croissants as he was having difficulty with the humidity affecting the crust as normally the salt in your pastries or breads will absorb the humidity so you need to either eliminate it completely or use very little. I suggested also using a levain in the pastries and breads as the increased acidity helps with keeping quality and crust.

On a side note if want to experiment with cocktail inspired breads. Like a rum n raisin bread where the raisins are soaked in rum, but then it’s mixed into a pain viennoise. And still playing with the idea of a ‘Klippies’ and Coke sorbet [ Klipdrift – a South African brandy ] J
I think when I start at the school if want to continue my journal, even if only for myself, documenting changes and developments if notice with recipes and production and also to keep track of ideas and progress..

Had a nice chat with Faitha today as well while we ate one of her concoctions of split peas, chilli, pasta and potatoes. Don’t ask... we were talking about relationships and life and how it’s difficult to find someone when you have a really free spirit but how important and real it is to have someone or friends outside a work/party environment that you can do things with and talk to .

Daily Grind

Another grind today.
Was feeling a little exhausted still but nothing a good breakfast and a coffee can’t solve. I was baking again from 5:30-10:30..we had a lot to bake and I had a nice rotation so that the time I was finished with one trolley, the next was already out and starting to come up to temperature so I was owning it. Scoring was good and baking was on par. It’s pretty cool that Alexandre leaves me to bake almost all the bread most of the time. I mean, if someone was on the oven and didn’t really handle it, it would be a huge f***up.

Pretty standard Saturday though...knocked out production and everyone started deep cleaning early while I was still busy so by 11:30 we were all done. I got to try a foret noir (black forest) which was good. 
They add some of the maraschino liquid to the cream when whipping the Chantilly so it has loads of flavour. I’m gonna miss being able to try all these things...but only 2 weeks left at Maison Pozzoli now.

I’m thinking about organising a trip up to Paris in my last week but I need to find someone who would want to go with me as I know if I go alone I won’t really want to walk around and see things.

Got home and passed out...and woke up around 8pm. The weather here is getting really crappy and depressing. Ready to get back to sunny SA although I know the weather has been a bit wonky there but still, home is home.


Gingerbread Man

Want to know what a sack of s#&t looks like? It looks like Benjamin. So he was finally back at work today...that’s like a week and a half. And turns out he wasn’t sick but fell down the stairs or whatever and hurt his knee. Shit, I’ve worked with sprained ankles and after dentist’s appointments and stuff before...I don’t let small things hold me back.

Man he was slooooooow. And he was making mistakes. And pissing Alexandre off which is never a good thing. Like for the poolish he just weighed off the water, yeast and flour together but didn’t mix it. Wtf? And forgot to shape epis at the normal time so they weren’t ready when one usual customer came for them.
Other than that it was a pretty standard day. Oh and baguette with jambon cru and Roquefort ftw. J

I didn’t sleep at all last night. Apart from a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon I didn’t really sleep. I stayed awake talking to Magen. She’s a girl that studied with Nicholas, my brother, and we never really spoke before but since about 2 months ago we started talking every day and now she is just part of my life. I literally stayed up until my alarm went off to get up. And even then I didn’t want to stop talking to her. It’s really amazing when you meet someone that you can have endless conversations with.

I think if it wasn’t for her company, Lyon would’ve made me miserable by now. She makes me more aware of my actions and beliefs and stimulates me intellectually and challenges me constantly. Every day brings us closer and I can’t wait to get to hang out with her in Dec when she is down to visit.

So even though I didn’t sleep, I had a coffee and a croissant with frangipani and just owned today. I was on the oven and was pumping stuff out left and right. Sack of s#&t was slow again, nothing new there. I can see he really pisses Alex off as well...

I made my brioche recipe yesterday and shaped it today so we’ll get to do a taste comparison tomorrow. Now I just want to make ginger beer!!!

Ah and we made gingerbread houses today and started cutting out gingerbread men...the recipe was a nice end product, with Alexandre adding some minced dried orange peel which really lifted the flavour. Although my favourite is still the German lebkuchen.
Nothing beats that...I could eat it until I enter a food coma.

It was really cool to see how the houses got made and I helped put together the chimneys. We used melted isomalt as the glue. It works like sugar but doesn’t crystallise; oh and it burns like sugar too. F*** me I had forgotten what that felt like. So there was a lot of swearing going on...and if you ever watch peoples reaction when there’s sudden pain they always swear in a native language... lately I swear in French but that time I was swearing in English and Afrikaans J even tried teaching Alexandre some words but French people struggle with the hard, guttural sounds..

Anyway, so 60 houses down, now we just need to do 40 more and make the bigger houses. But as for gingerbread men, we cut out about 50...and we need 600. So it’s over 200kg of dough we need to make; that’s a lot of gingerbread men.


Rubbery Couch Potato

Today I was just taking it easy as even though I got home at 2am yesterday, I only ended up going to sleep around 8am. 
Didn’t eat much as I was still processing everything I consumed the day before. I felt like that fat guy in the one Monty Python skit who eats a crap load of food and then wants a wafer thin mint hehehe.

So yeah, pretty boring with it: D watched DotA2 casts on YouTube and lazed on the couch like a rubbery couch potato.