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The Art of Pastry comes to Okanagan College
Okanagan College Media Release

Linda BairdAt a time when a New York chef is capturing international attention for his croissant/donut creation – the cronut – Okanagan College’s celebrated Culinary Arts program is launching its first Pastry Arts certificate program this fall.

“There is no question the pastry shop is the most creative part of any kitchen,” said Chef instructor Perry Bentley, who has worked as a pastry specialist in large European hotels before coming to Okanagan College. “I tell everyone we make everything from a dozen basic ingredients, and there is no other form of cookery that does that.”

Tradition will form the backbone of the 40-week program, with students tutored in the art of creating delicate pastries like the croissant, and slow fermenting breads, or Pain au Levain – known more commonly as sourdough.

Layered between all of this will be a quintessential Okanagan essence that will come through the ingredients themselves.

“The feature of the program is the farm to table principle,” Bentley said.  “We’ll be using local grains, and wild yeasts, and we’ll be connecting with orchardists and wherever possible bring in local products that we can use in the bake shop – mostly fruits, but also vegetables and meats for our savoury pastries.”

Linda Baird, who just completed her Culinary Arts certificate at the College, has already signed up for the course, and can’t wait for September to arrive.

“I’ve always loved pastry, and ultimately this is what I really wanted to study,” said Baird, who spent last summer working with the pastry chef at Mission Hill Family Estate.

Baird said she was fortunate enough to spend some time this year with Bentley learning some of the skills required to create delicate sugar work – often used to create excitement as a type of culinary centrepiece.

“Perry gave us a chance to make angel hair sugar, but it really was just a tiny taste of what can be done,” she said. “I love the finesse and fussiness of pastry.”

Bentley said Baird can expect to learn sugar blowing, sugar pulling and sugar casting. Students will also learn wedding cake design, and how to create those flakiest of treats – the Viennese pastries.

“Pastry is all about precision,” he said. “You take these twelve ingredients, and the main difference is in the formula and the technique. It’s highly specialized and takes high levels of expertise.”

Applications are now being accepted for the Pastry Arts certificate, which is part of the comprehensive program the College is providing as it advances its ties to the wine, culinary, tourism and hospitality sectors, said Jonathan Rouse, Director of Wine, Food and Tourism at the College.