Tuesday, September 21, 2010

40. Goofy Bastard

Just at the beginning of our business, Norm, who rented his restaurant to us from midnight to 8 AM commissioned me to make him 3000 patty shells and 3000 cheese twists for the opening of Neiman Marcus, San Antonio. Everyone I knew called it Needless Mark-up.

I baked him 12 of the most beautiful butter patty shells (aka bouchées or vol au vents) you’d ever find. Flaky, straight up, light. Just perfect.

I made the puff pastry the day before the event, and put it in our “freezer”, which was a semi-functional Rich Plan freezer. The dough froze, and I put it out on the table before going to bed. I rose at 1:30 AM and started to roll the dough out. In those days, I did not know the three methods of making patty shells. I only knew one, which required cutting two pieces of dough for each shell: one to serve as the base and the second being a ring.

I rolled and cut from 1:30 AM until 5:00 PM the next day. Patricia worked in the adjacent room, baking them off. During that time, I never once went next door to check on the quality of the shells. At 5:00 PM, I had produced 3,000 patty shells and 3,000 cheese twists.

I went into the next room to find crackers. Totally flat, unflaky crackers. I said, “Why didn’t you tell me they weren’t rising?” Patricia said, “I thought they were supposed to look like this!”

I said, “Could you help me deliver them?” Patricia said, “No, these are your babies.” So, I had to haul umpteen boxes up to the 20th floor of the Westgate Building. When Norm, the owner, saw the fruits of my labors, he said “You goofy bastard!” And he called me by that name from then on.

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