3 Days with Chef Guillaume Mabilleau

 
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I'm a regular when it comes to the advanced courses at the Chocolate Academy Centre in Dubai. Run by The Barry Callebaut Group, one of the leading manufacturers of high-quality chocolate and cocoa products; the chocolate academy provides a range of short courses from basic to advance with hands on training. The teaching staff at the centres regularly includes Chocolate Ambassadors, a vibrant network of the worlds' leading  pastry chefs, master bakers and confectioners, all of international reputation. Some of them are also MOFs (Meilleurs Ouvriers de France) - One of the most gruelling competitions the culinary industry has seen which requires months, sometimes years, of preparation. After having done all the basics and worked professionally in the industry it's not so easy to find courses that still challenge and teach you something new. That's why I love these intense 2-3 day advanced lessons, a crash course for some immediate inspiration with the best of the best in the industry, some whom i've been following for years and it's truly amazing to have the opportunity to learn from them. This past week, I enrolled in a 3 day course with Chef Guillaume Mabilleau, MOF Pâtissier and owner of Nuances Gourmandes, a pâtisserie that provides all things sweet, from macarons to wedding cakes, including individual desserts and petits fours, and oh boy, was it intense!

Not going to lie, when we finished day 1, my brain was spinning trying to keep up with him! His organization, time management and attention to detail is exceptional. Just by looking at a finished component he can tell if it's done correctly or not.

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I've been fortunate enough to see a lot of master chefs at work but this was in a league of its own. Guillaume Mabilleau is a machine in the kitchen; an artist and perfectionist. All his work was magical on the palate, a combination of flavors that you wouldn't expect to go so well together turn out to be surprisingly well balanced. Some of the techniques he used are unlike anything I've seen before! Just goes to show you, in this industry, the sky's the limit. Using cling film to shape mousse encasing a streusel base and choux (profiterole) filled top into a giant Truffe shape and hanging it in the freezer to set; piping tempered chocolate into a deep bowl filled with cocoa powder and after set, brushing off the excess, so easy with beautiful results for garnish; spraying a gelatin based glaze instead of cocoa butter based liquids for a shiny finish; recooking an already cooked dacquoise (meringue based sponge) with a bit of egg white until it soufflés; piping meringue over a customized silicone half sphere and baking it, later removing the silicone from the inside creates a meringue bowl which can be filled with just about anything!; using a zester to shape the sharp edges of tarts to create perfectly rounded sides; cleaning the base of glazed cakes by lifting the entire wire tray and sliding the cake around (this is definitely not something I'll be brave enough to do any time soon, me being my clumsy self)!

Something else I found to be quite interesting was how each component of a finished product didn't necessarily taste amazing on its own, but when put together, was incredible! I think in general this is a problem in the industry, where the big picture is forgotten when making intricate desserts with 5-10 different flavors. The different components are perfected but the end result is an overly sweet and overdone entremet without that balance on the palate.

The next course is in March foodies, with Johan Martin, an incredible pastry chef I've been following for years now, whose niche is chocolate and sugar showpieces. Can't wait!

As always, thank you for reading xo