A breathtaking experience
Dayna Moyses, 2018 Trade Scholar (Cookery)
In April, I took a dessert course in Burnaby, Canada with Ksenia Penkina. This coursed specialised in mouse entremet cake and tempered chocolate. I was super excited about this course due to my passion in cooking being desserts. The 3 days were intense, mind blowing and delicious. From that course I have come back with so much knowledge and an eager drive to test out the skills I learnt. Whilst in Canada I had the chance to do some exploring. And I’m a definitely glad I did. Granville Island Markets were the best markets I have ever been to. From making fresh pasta and bagels right in front of you to seafood and meat stalls, they had it all. This place was by far the best experience in Canada. We also went to Grouse Mountain to see the snow and the Bears. You are able to enjoy a meal while looking over Canada.
In April I flew out of Canada and headed to London, with a stopover in Frankfurt to enjoy a quick sausage. In London I worked at The Hilton Bankside, Waterloo. Here I was able to work in the pastry kitchen alongside my head pastry chef Louis. It was amazing to see how a hotel with such a large quantity of customers runs.
The Hilton had three kitchens. One upstairs, which was the main kitchen, the pastry kitchen downstairs with the function kitchen and then also another function kitchen in the banqueting rooms. Working at Bankside I learnt techniques specific to the pastry kitchen, such as; how to cater for large numbers (everything was made in bulk and stored for later) and how service runs for a 24 hour kitchen. During my time in the pastry kitchen I learnt how to make Focaccia and Greek bread. It’s definitely not easy to do, making Focaccia is about a 6 hour process of letting it rest, folding and resting again. But once finished, the bread is so light and airy. I also had a lot of practice with my piping skills, learning how to do flowers, ribbons and leaves. In my last week there, I was able to go upstairs and see how the main side of the kitchen works. It was amazing, the turnover, quality and efficiency of the kitchen never stops.
My biggest struggle while in London was a language barrier, since (surprisingly) most of my colleagues spoke French. I also worked with Colombians and Greeks! Little did I know that it was only going to get worse the further into my trip. I was lucky enough that everyone was lovely to get along with and we would just laugh it off if we couldn’t figure out what the other was saying. By the end of my 4 weeks in London, the work and communication got easier. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here and would go back in a heartbeat. Whilst I was at the Hilton, I enjoyed eating there twice, for brunch and dinner. The brunch there was amazing, it was an all you can eat buffet but with a fancy twist. I’m hoping that one day I can bring this back to my restaurant. On one of my nights off, I headed to a Gordon Ramsay restaurant, where I enjoyed the best meal of my life. With veal tongue and quail, I now see why he is so popular.
My adventures in London included going to the Brick Lane markets, where people lined up for half an hour to get the best salted beef you’ve ever tasted. It was so simple, with just beef, mustard, pickles and a freshly baked roll. From there we headed over to Oxford Street and found a pizza restaurant which did heaps of different pizzas, bread and main meals. Along this same street, there was a prosciutto shop, chocolate shop, cupcake bakery, sushi shop and china town at the end of the street. From my time in London I learnt a lot about playing with flavours and pastry. I’m thankful for Louis teaching me his knowledge, letting me bring recipes/tips home and being able to keep in contact with him if I needed to.
Next stop Paris! The city of love.
The love I found in Paris was macaroons. After eating countless macaroons, croissants and bread, I have come home determined to make the perfect macaroons. I tried a lot of French food, mostly pastries. Most importantly, I tried snails. Which taste just like rubber and garlic butter, yet nice at the same time. In Paris there are cafes everywhere, I soon learned to go where the people are. Which lead me to a cute restaurant where I had an old classic, Chicken Ballentine and chocolate mousse.
My favourite experience of Paris was that every time you walk down a different street, you find more patisseries to try. The butter flavour in all the pastry was to die for. With only 3 short days in Paris, I learned a little bit of French and how talented the pastry chefs are there.
Towards the end of May, I flew to Barcelona to get myself some paella. Little did I know that there are about 15-20 different paellas on most menus. Near the beach was a popular café where I ordered chicken paella. Worried it wasn’t going to live up to the expectations, I patiently waited for it to come out. I was blown away by the flavour. The sun was out and so was everyone else. As you walked down to the beach there are pop up stalls. All these stalls sold cute homemade things. Ranging from cheese, honey, pastries, cake, sangrias, and candied nuts. I tried to stay and watch the whole process of candying but it took about 1-2 hours. They take the candy straight off the pan and hand them out. I still have no idea how they did it, but it was amazing, they didn’t stick and had a thick red coating. I can’t even describe how good they were because they tasted that amazing. My favourite part about Barcelona was the tile art work everywhere on the buildings.
Roaming on to Rome.
I was ready for pasta, pizza and gelato galore! As soon as I arrived, I headed on out to find some pasta. Finding my previous favourite pasta, spaghetti bolognese. The first and last pasta I ate in Rome were both divine, with the first being spaghetti bolognese and last being a truffled pecorino spaghetti. In the middle of Rome near the Trevi fountain was a gelato store, with 25-30 different flavours. I tried 3 flavours and they were all delicious. I’ve realised that gelato over there is more on the ice cream side. From pizza to pasta you couldn’t go hungry with so many options to try. I would definitely recommend to anyone with this award, who is also a chef to go and treat your taste buds.
The last stop of the trip, heading into the start of June, was Singapore. Due to very strict laws, Singapore is a very clean and safe place. I started work experience at Swissotel in the Skai Restaurant, working with Paul Hallet, who was my head chef there. This was an ideal opportunity for me to see a fine dining restaurant at work. Every detail is prepared and plated perfectly. It was mind blowing to experience the picture perfect, the goals in a chefs life, in real person. The hardest part about working at Skai was the communication because I was the odd one out due to not understanding them. I learnt that just doing and watching is the easiest way to communicate.
This hotel was massive. It has 13-15 restaurants in total, a shopping centre in the middle and I was working on level 69. The best part about Skai was doing split shifts and heading to the shopping centre to go to 1 of the 3 levels of food courts and get all the delicious Asian cuisine (which has my favourite flavours to play with). I had some of my work colleagues take me to their favourite place to try some traditional noodles. I also went to a dumpling restaurant, with the best fresh dumplings I’ve ever tasted. Singapore was one of my favourite places and I would definitely go back for a longer time period to check out the food scene more.
This Scholarship has been a life changing experience…
The overall experience was absolutely amazing. Sometimes it was awkward, sometimes it was scary and sometimes it was breathtaking. You go through all the emotions whilst you are away, excited, then scared, then home sick, and it all loops back around. Then, all of a sudden, you’re back home thinking did I really just do all of that?
Over the past 2 months I have learnt so much. Even down to the difference in produce between Australia and Europe, which affects use. For example, eggs, they come in a carton already pasteurised so when you make creme brulee, you just mix it all together. I’m so grateful for everyone I have worked with to have shown me their knowledge and teach me as much as they could while I was there. And bring home some of their recipes. I feel as though I have grown personally from this trip and matured even more.
Since I have returned, I have realised that life is too short and exciting to waste it working away all your time. I have now changed jobs to a café which only does days so I can enjoy my life at home with my family. I now manage that café and I believe if it wasn’t for my trip, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. Going away has given me so many ideas in marketing, work, advertising and designing menus and communication. My future plan is to use everything I have learnt back here at home. I would also like to open my own French style café, by the water like in Paris and Barcelona. But it may be a bit further along the line!
Some breathtaking moments of the trip include walking into Skai restaurant in Singapore for the first time and the final product of my dessert course. Some scary moments include, stepping off my first plane trip into another country, my first day of work and a trip to the airport gone wrong. It was pretty scary when, at midnight in Paris, on my way to the airport, early Saturday morning some drunk people started arguing and fighting in front of me whilst on a bus and I couldn’t get off. Everyone around me acted like it was normal! Some awkward moments involved communication, we would just stand there and stare at each other wondering what was just said. Sometimes it was pretty funny when it happened.