Jenni Field is the creative force behind Pastry Chef Online. She has been baking, developing recipes, and experimenting in the kitchen for almost three decades.
She worked as a special education teacher and a pastry chef, and now she's using her passion for teaching and baking to help people find their own fearlessness in the kitchen.
1. You are an advocate of fearless cooking. What does that mean? What does "fearlessness in the kitchen" entail?
For me, fearlessness is born from an understanding and comfort-level with basic methods and techniques. I think if you can learn how to make a particular type of food and understand the hows and whys of the techniques, then you are freed up to fearlessly explore your own flavor combinations.
For example, if you know how to make a butter cake and understand the rules of The Creaming Method of making cakes as well as the proportions of ingredients, then you can almost effortlessly make your own variations and be confident that it will turn out well. That to me is fearlessness. It's confidence, and you can only become truly confident with practice.
2. You've been cooking for over 30 years. Have you ever felt tired of cooking or bored with it?
There are times when I get stuck in a rut and end up cooking because I need to eat rather than for the love of cooking. Fortunately since I have a good understanding of cooking technique, I can run into the kitchen and whip up something that's pretty darned good, even if I don't feel like cooking. And then there are nights where I just make popcorn.
3. Can you tell us more about your ebook, "How to be Fearless in the Kitchen?" Are you working on something similar?
A new ebook perhaps? My "How to Be Fearless in the Kitchen" ebook is an introduction to my cooking and baking philosophy: learn and really understand ingredient function and mixing methods as foundational skills and then build from there.
I offer it as a free bonus when folks sign up for my email list, and there are links to many of my ingredient function and mixing method posts as well as reiterating my main message: fearlessness = confidence.
As far as follow-up books are concerned, I do have some ideas brewing but no concrete plans right now. I have started a series of Facebook live videos on my Pastry Chef Online Facebook page called What Can I Do For You Wednesday where I answer readers' baking, cooking, and pastry questions and sometimes demonstrate techniques as well.
Another project I'm engaged in with my friend Denise Vivaldo is a bi-coastal virtual cookalong called Cook the Book with Denise and Jenni where we invite a cookbook author to cook with us, either with Denise in her kitchen in Los Angeles or with me in my North Carolina kitchen.
Our audience can cook along in real time and enter to win signed copies of the books we cook from. It's a fun and really unique way to connect cookbook authors with their fans. You can find us here: Cook the Book with Denise and Jenni
4. What keeps you busy on a daily basis? Are you still working as a pastry chef
What keeps me busy on a daily basis is working with existing clients, seeking out partnerships with new clients and developing recipes/photographing recipes for my own content and for sponsored content for clients.
My husband and I are also involved in cat rescue. We have quite a crew of our own, and we also foster cats and kittens for the rescue. Plenty of time is spent cleaning and vacuuming and feeding cats in between baking and cooking and photography!
I left the professional restaurant kitchen world when I moved from Florida back to North Carolina. Before working in restaurants, I was a special education teacher for 16 years. While my time spent in restaurant kitchens was invaluable, I missed teaching. Now I can both teach and bake through the blog.
5. Finally, what is the most delicious pastry you've ever created?
That's a really hard question to answer. I think for the restaurant, I was most proud of refining our family's English Trifle recipe to make the presentation "fine dining worthy." That recipe involved lemon sponge cake, sherry simple syrup, house-made raspberry jam, vanilla custard, raspberry coulis and lemon sabayon.
At home, we make that trifle with layers of lemon pound cake soaked in cream sherry, raspberry jam and vanilla custard topped with whipped cream.
One of my favorite blog creations is called "Pumpkin Caramel Latte Flan," which is a lightly spiced pumpkin flan made with caramelized sugar. I was honored to have several blog readers make that flan as one of their Thanksgiving desserts. Here's a link to the pumpkin caramel latte flan or "The Most Interesting Flan in the World!"
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