Cooking

'Room for Dessert' Takes You into the Mind of Will Goldfarb

His new cookbook is equal parts autobiography and thesis on sugar
Will Goldfarb Cookbook
Photos: Martin Westlake

Once you flip open Room for Dessert, you'll realize author Will Goldfarb isn't so much a pastry chef as he is a dessert physicist, as his new cookbook (on sale tomorrow) is a dissertation on sugar. The New York native, who made his culinary career switch to avoid attending law school, worked in some of the world's most cutting-edge kitchens—including El Bulli in Spain—before opening his NYC desserts-only restaurant, Room4Dessert, which he's since reopened in Bali, Indonesia.

Godlfarb's Baliwould dessert.

Before you get to recipes like the Color of Money (crepes tinted green from moringa powder) and Baliwould (olive oil cake with passion fruit meringue and mango and raspberry marshmallows), you'll first read through Goldfarb's miniature autobiography, broken into separate episodes detailing each step of his professional journey. Below is an excerpt of how he first came to work under legendary Parisian chef Gérard Mulot.

Episode 6: Mulot and the zen of separating eggs

Listening: Jackie Brown soundtrack

Excerpted from Room for Dessert (Phaidon) by Will Goldfarb

Mulot, the gentleman patissier. The first in and the last out. Gérard Mulot was the first person who made it seem like pastry was something I could do. I'm not exactly sure why. It certainly wasn't because I was good at waking up at 3.45 a.m. to run to the shop, after punching my stereo to turn off the music. It certainly wasn't because I was good at it, but it was something I could compete at and win, or at least win enough of the time to find enjoyment. And I found enjoyment in the least likely places. Like separating eggs, for example. If the entire kitchen is waiting for your yolks, and nobody (nobody like you) can make pastry cream, almond cream, lemon curd, and the like, then you'd best be cracking them eggs with a vengeance.

Early 1998 found me at a little station by the kitchen doorway that was simply a converted speedrack, and it wobbled to and fro as I tried to shorten the time it took to separate three hundred eggs each day. A speck of white in the yolk was forgivable, but any trace of yolk in the white and Monsieur Le Macaron was sure to give you a stern talking to; any fragments of shell and it would be a hasty exit. Soon I was able to get a clean yolk in just under seven seconds, which meant I could get just shy of nine per minute, and if I really hustled, come close to thirty minutes for the lot. This meant we could start right away on the pastry cream, all thirty litres of it.

I had plenty of catastrophes, of course, like adding chocolate ganache to the Chantilly too early, and therefore bringing a very melted millefeuille to the pass. Never a shout, never a scream, just a clear look in the eyes that made it clear that discussion was not recommended, but replacements were.

Three lessons I learned from Mulot:


Do your own dishes
We all brought our own tools then, even sugar lamps, sugar pots, chinois and the like, which made us appreciate the value of washing up our own dishes.

Don't judge!
We had a crazy baker who ran around like a whirling dervish. I don't think he ever wore shoes or a shirt, but he cranked out 400 baguettes every single afternoon. 

Have just one person use the oven
Shit doesn't get burnt then.

The lessons I learned at Mulot were myriad, but before I could build on any of it, I needed to get into better shape. Serious cooking demands serious fitness, and after a two-month stage, I needed to rest and recharge. More importantly, something in me was changing. I decided to enrol for the final certificate course at Le Cordon Bleu and get my actual diploma.

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