September 2018 - From his kitchen back home in Jodhpur, India, to Le Cordon Bleu Paris’ professional kitchens, Sahil recounts his growing passion for pastry. Now an advanced Pastry Diploma student, he looks back at the knowledge he has gained since he first started his Pastry Diploma course and tells us more about his plans for the future as a pastry professional.
Sahil Garg talks about his pastry studies
Can you introduce yourself in just a few words?
My name is Sahil Garg and I am from the city of Jodhpur situated in the western region of India. Currently I am studying Pastry at Le Cordon Bleu Paris and enrolled in the final leg of the diploma, Superior Pastry. I am a food photographer and food stylist as well, who loves taking photos as much as baking. I blog about my bakes and my life at Le Cordon Bleu on my Instagram handle @thefatlens.
Why did you choose to study pastry?
Ever since I found my true passion in baking, I wanted to study pastry at a culinary school to develop the traits of a professional. Thus, the zest to learn and the need to polish my skills, brought me to Paris in March this year.
It fascinates me as to how and what goes behind creating the most beautiful desserts.
What level did you have in pastry before starting your Diploma?
Before starting my diploma, I had no professional training in pastry, and was from a very different background. I graduated with honours in Mathematics in the year 2013 and was managing my family business after that. On the weekends, I started baking in my kitchen, with the help of YouTube videos and blogs. This led me to style and photograph my creations and blog about them as well. Following this, I took baking workshops in my hometown until February this year.
What does a typical day in a Pastry Diploma look like?
A typical day in Pastry Diploma would consist of classes from 3-9 hours ranging from demonstrations to practicals. During the demonstrations, we get to learn the techniques of French pastry from the best of chefs, whereas in practicals, we recreate what we see in the demonstration under the guidance of Chefs. On days we don’t have any or much classes, I spend time exploring the beautiful pastry shops and chocolate boutiques in the city.
Can you tell us about the desserts you learned to make?
The basic programme had more of basic French pastry elements, such as choux pastry, puff pastry macarons, dacquoise and tarts. The intermediate programme comprised of more complicated recipes, in which we were doing multiple elements for one dessert. Apart from learning a lot of entremets and flavour combinations, we also had to create our own tart for this level. I created a Chocolate Passionfruit Tart inspired from the Magador macaron at Pierre Hermé and enjoyed the whole process of writing a recipe from scratch. The Superior programme as I see covers a chocolate sculpture, a sugar sculpture and multiple entremets. For this level, we also create our own entremet which would be assessed as the final exam.
Which achievement are you most proud of?
As compared to the start of my training programme, I see myself to have improved on speed and presentation a lot. I also feel to have a much better understanding of the subject now. These aspects are very important when working in a professional setup, and that is what I am most proud of. Talking about practicals, I felt the most content, happy and proud creating Autumn leaf and Croquembouche in the Intermediate program.
How is the atmosphere in class?
The atmosphere in the class is very positive, enabling the students to learn better. With the help of great translators, the Chefs make sure that all the questions put up by the students are answered well. From their years of experience in numerous kitchens, the chefs also give us tips that shall be helpful for us in the future.
What do you want to do after your Diploma?
After interning for a while in Paris, I plan to move back to my city in India. I intend to blog and take workshops there, to spread the knowledge of French pastry, and eventually open my own patisserie.