A Chef’s Sweet Memories

Here's a couple of wonderful stories from Chef William Poole, owner of WEN Chocolates (http://www.wenchocolates.com) in Denver, Colorado.

I guess the greatest inspiration I  had growing up were my grandparents; both being of Czech descent. As a child, I remember that they baked constantly; there was always something to eat, Grandpa's cinnamon rolls, kolache, but what I remember most were my Grandmother's pies-pumpkin, mincemeat, pecan and cherry. I am told that when I was very little, I wouldn't ask for a chair to be placed next to the counter…I demanded(!) one. I was always given a piece of dough to work with, and I would work it until it was gray, and still asked for it to be baked off into pie-dough cookies, or a small pie for myself. Those tastes and smells from my childhood help me today-I know when I've got the spices and aromatics correct in my baking when I am "transported" to that special kitchen. To quote Truman Capote, "if some wizard would like to make me a present, let him give me a bottle filled with the voices of that kitchen, the haaa and the fires whispering, a bottle brimming with its buttery sugar bakery smells." – from The Grass Harp

A few years ago, I worked aboard the American Orient Express as pastry chef. The train had pulled into Flagstaff, Arizona for the day, and I had contacted my mother, who lives in Phoenix, to have her meet me for the day, and I was to give her a five course dinner aboard the train with the passengers, before we took off for our final stop, Albuquerque, New Mexico. After four beautiful courses of 5 Star cuisine, and prior to her "real" desserts, I had the server present her with a dessert plate filled with coarse sugar-topped pie-dough cookies, very simply presented on a doily. The other passengers wanted to know where they could get some, because they were so good, they made her cry.

Thanks, Chef!

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