Chef Spotlight & Recipe: Christine Beard
With a career that's brought her everywhere from Virginia (The Inn at Little Washington) to DC (The Fairmont) to Los Angeles (Michael Mina & Wolfgang Puck) and now to Vancouver as our Executive Pastry Chef, Chef Christine Beard has been an incredible addition to our school's faculty. Bringing her decades of industry experience to the school, she is a fount of wisdom and baking geekery that every student (and colleague) is incredibly lucky to have.
Though much of her time is spent overseeing the entire baking & pastry department, students will often find her right in the thick of things, apron on, hands-on imparting her knowledge, refining her technique, creating fantastic desserts for Bakery 101, or teaching our public classes. A day isn't complete without hearing her infectious laughter, tasting her delicious pastries, or doing a little dance to some '80's power rock song in the kitchen.
Read on and learn more about Chef Christine - including her most recent foray into the world of pastry competitions! Lucky for us, she's even sharing her delectable recipe for it.
What was your first cooking job, and your best (or worst!) cooking experience there or elsewhere?
At a summer camp north of Toronto - I was the griddle master - I loved making pancakes! There are too many "best experiences" in my career. It's so hard to pick.
How would you describe your style of cooking?
Classic, with a little bit of modern thrown in.
What's the difference between your culinary education, and the education you provide at PICA?
The biggest difference is the pace. Luckily, I had worked in kitchens before attending school for baking, so I was used to the pace and sounds of the kitchen. At PICA, the second half of the program is set where you're learning in a live environment. Students learn to prepare for a restaurant that offers three-course meals as well as items for our bakery that offers everything from breakfast pastries to cakes to confections - all for real customers. Learning in such an environment gives our students the confidence to transition into the industry very easily.
What's the most common mistake you see your students make in the kitchen (or in their undertakings)?
Rushing to become "Chef." The journey is SO important. The experiences as a cook prepare you to lead a kitchen. When you find yourself in challenging situations, you can look to the past to find the solution.
If you were not a chef, what would your alternate career be?
Cheese monger, for sure!
Most exclusive or memorable culinary experience?
Family meals in LA. We had a tight group of chefs and industry friends who were all transplants. Every two weeks, we would get together and have a family meal. It was a great time to catch up, relax, brainstorm, share, but most of all... laugh. Sometimes, there would be four or five people. Other times there would be twenty. This industry can transplant you easily around the world. It's so important to find a group, to be conneted, to know they have your back - just like your family would.
What was your latest food or equipment splurge - and was it worth it?
My immersion blender. It's indispensable!
What are your thoughts about 2017's food trends?
I'm hoping to see more Ethiopian places and maybe a place for pupusas.
Dinner fallbacks (whether take-away, delivery, or pulled from your freezer/fridge)?
Noodles from Peaceful Restaurant or Halibut Green Curry from Maenam.
Who is your own icon, mentor or inspiration?
The women in my family. Regardless of how busy they are, there is always time to try a new recipe.
What is your dream culinary vacation?
Anywhere that offers cheese and/or bread.
Finally, do you have any words of reflection for us?
The students remind me of what can be accomplished with focus and perseverance. In six months, to see someone go from fumbling with a spatula to running the dessert station in Bistro 101 is inspiring.
This time last month, Chef Christine travelled to Montreal to compete in 2017's Cacao Barry Canadian World Chocolate Masters. After months of practise and training, Chef Christine went through a two-day on-site competition creating a chocolate showpiece, a takeaway creation, and a plated dessert. We're incredibly proud that she was selected to compete (against two others, both of whom were seasoned veterans of the competition) and represent BC!
Chef Christine is delighted to share her recipe for Earth's Bounty, her plated dessert for this competition to us. A marvelous combination of textures and unique flavours, this dessert is like nothing you'll have ever tasted before!
140g All Purpose Flour
50g Icing Sugar
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all ingredients except eggs until sandy. Add eggs, and mix until combined. Wrap and chill until firm, then roll out on parchment paper, baking at 350˚F until evenly browned.
150g Pâte Sucrée, ground
125g Alunga Chocolate
Melt the chocolate and butter together. combine with the ground cookie and feuilletine, and roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Chill, then cut to your preferred shape with a knife or cutter.
Buckwheat & Oat Sponge
90g All Purpose Flour
40g Oat Flour
15g Buckwheat Flour
5g Baking Powder
50g Canola Oil
150g Egg Whites
Sift together the dry ingredients. Whisk together the wet ingredients. Combine both in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, make a firm meringue with the egg whites and sugar, then fold meringue into the batter. Spread on a half sheet pan and bake at 375˚F until evenly brown, and sponge springs back when touched. Chill.
Roasted Red Pepper & Raspberry Gelée
200g Roasted, cleaned and puréed red peppers
200g Raspberry Puree
25g Invert Sugar
8g Pectin nH
2g Gelatin, soaked in cold water
Whisk together the pectin and sugar. Combine the purees with the invert sugar, sugar, and pectin. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Spread the gelée on the buckwheat & oat sponge, and let set before cutting to shape (matching the cookie base)!
30g Ocoa Dark Chocolate
126g Haiti Dark Chocolate
222g Cream, whipped to soft peaks
Partially melt the chocolates. Combine cream, yolks, and sugar in a medium pot, and heat to 84˚C. Remove from the heat and add gelatin. Pour over chocolates and make ganache, then cool to 35˚C. Fold in the soft whipped cream, and chill until needed. To prepare for service, whisk the mousse to fluff it up and transfer to a piping bag.
To put it all together...
Adhere the oat sponge (with gelée on it) to the cookie base with a bit of the chocolate mousse. Decoratively pipe the chocolate mousse on top of the gelée layer. Finish with fresh raspberries and a piece of supremed grapefruit - the acidity cuts the richness of the chocolate and balances all the flavours in the dish!