All Rise…

So during the week I had the amazing opportunity to take a Souffle class taught by French Pastry Chef Vincent Gadan at Signorelli Gastronomia in Pyrmont.  I will admit that going into it, I wasn’t really aware of what was going on.  I’m not a big Souffle lover- they’re nice but I’ve never tried to make one and I can’t remember the last time I had one in a restaurant. I hadn’t read the class description carefully or really taken notice of who would be teaching it.  To say that I went in with no expectations, would be about right.

But it was fantastic!

First of all, the Signorelli Gastronomia space is fantastic- any restaurant with a Red Wine Room, White Wine Room AND a Cheese Room is already a winner in my eyes.  The menu looked really tasty– we only had light canapes so that we didn’t fill up before class but the Parmesan cheese was served scooped out of an actual cheese wheel and the cured meats were Tasty with a capital T!  The Italian staff were really lovely, attentive and super helpful.

Secondly, Vincent Gadan is fantastic!  I immediately recognised him from Masterchef where he had performed in a pressure test a couple of years ago and taught contestants tarts– which look delicious!  In person, he is every bit the stereotypical French Pastry Chef- very charming, very accented, very precise and very knowledgeable.

The class was quite small- only about 10 of us and we were divided into pairs.  We watched him demonstrate each souffle first and then made them in our pairs.   He started with a three cheese souffle, then we did a chocolate souffle and finished with a raspberry souffle.   He made me forget everything I thought I knew about souffles (which actually isn’t much!)  I always thought that they were super hard to make and fussy and not worth the effort.  Well, I was WRONG.  Wrong, wrong, wrong!  He showed us a 4 step process for each of the souffles and let us taste both warm ones straight from the oven and cold ones that he had prepared earlier.  And yes, there was a “Here’s one I prepared earlier” moment!   They were so easy, light and fluffy.  What was great is that Chef Gadan basically said he was giving us the basics and were were limited only “by our creativity” at home.

The three cheese souffle was so easy- it starts with a beurre noisette, that is the base for a bechamel.  You add the cheeses (Oh sweet cheeses!) and mix it into a meringue.  He mixed it all together and then spooned it into the super cute little baby copper pans (so cute, but probably super expensive) and popped it in the oven.  While we were waiting for those, he let us try cold ones he had made earlier in the day.  They were quite tasty.  Then he brought out chocolate sauce and told us to dip the cold cheese souffle in the chocolate sauce.

OH MY GOD.  SHUT THE FRONT DOOR.  It was AMAZING.  It felt like little French angels were dancing in my mouth.  So good.  It was not just good, it was next level good.  Wow.

I was impressed.  We made our own, which was as easy as it looked and pretty tasty as well.

Then we moved onto the Chocolate Souffles.  We made a basic one from a Chocolate Creme Patisserie base, which again, super easy!  Chef Gadan encouraged us to experiment when we try it at home telling us that we could try infusing the milk with orange, chili, coffee, whatever we wanted which sounded delicious.  Then he told us we could further experiment by adding a liqueur to the creme pat as well.  Well, that got my attention very quickly!  Baileys, Frangelico, Grand Marnier, Kalhua, the list seemed endless.  So endless that I forgot to write them all down as I day dreamed and licked my lips.  What about a Chocolate Guinness Souffle or a Orange infused souffle with Grand Marnier, or a Coffee infused Souffle with Baileys.  Literally, my mind wandered off for a few minutes.  I started coming back to my senses while he was talking about putting things at the bottom of the souffle before you bake it- marshmallows, candied orange, raspberries… and my mind started wandering again.   So much potential deliciousness in one little souffle. When I came back to my senses, the mini saucepans were filled and in the bain marie and it was time to taste the cold one.  He had sprinkled something black on the top of one and told us to taste it.

I tried the plain cold chocolate one first, mainly because he wasn’t telling us what he had put on the other one.  It was the lightest, airiest, chocolate mousse type concoction I had ever had!  So good.   I got a bit brave and tried the one with the mystery topping and it was tasty too.  Completely unexpected but gave it a really salty flavour (I LOVE salty and sweet so I was onboard).  However I was SHOCKED to discover the black mystery topping was Black Olives.  Possibly my least favorite food.  But it was yummy!  Is it possible that chocolate souffles are so good that they cancel out the most disgusting food on the planet?  I think so!  Because it happened.

Finally, we made a raspberry souffle.  Again, so simple.  There are literally only 4 ingredients- raspberry puree, cornflour, egg whites, caster sugar.  Combine the puree and corn flour and let it cool, then make a meringue, mix them together, fill and cook.  Apparently you can substitute any fruit for the raspberry.  So easy, but it was not my favorite of the three.  It was tasty, and the addition of free dried balsamic vinegar made it delicious– yes, you read that right.  Freeze Dried Balsamic Vinegar.  It looks a bit like brown sugar and tastes just like balsamic vinegar.  MIND BLOWING!

Overall, I have to say that the class was pretty awesome- not only did I learn how easy souffles are to make but I got to experience some really Chef-y things- like chocolate and black olives as a flavor pairing, cheese and chocolate sauce, and freeze dried stuff (there were also freeze dried raspberries too!)  I would definitely recommend the class– although the proof will be Monday night when I attempt to serve The Runner a Souffle for dinner….  If it doesn’t workout, I may have to take back everything I’ve said about the class!

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