This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Spoiler alert: this post is ridiculously long. Even for my verbose self. Here’s a cupcake for the journey…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

This is…an update of sorts. How do I cram everything we have covered in the past 3 weeks into 823 words? Since we last talked we’ve breezed through 18 pies and tarts, 10 recipes with pâte à choux and 15 recipes with pâte feuilletée (puff pastry); we’ve had 3 practical exams; and I have washed more dishes than altogether reasonable. [Catch update number three and update four also!]

And I love it. LOVE.

[Not the dishes. I hate washing dishes.]

Culinary School Update: Part Two
cherry pie latticed unsliced.
My Top Pie Baking Tips
Everything you need to know about pies from a professional pastry chef!

Culinary school is more intense and physically and emotionally demanding than I could have ever imagined. I was not prepared for this. I’m not sure how I could have prepared for this.

I spend from 8:30 to 2:30 in constant motion; my brain is running on mach 10 to keep track of each an every component, to remain ahead, to not burn anything (including myself) and to learn as much as possible during the chef’s demos. And then school ends and I am somehow wired and exhausted all at the same time.

But I force myself to go to the gym because somebody ate too many pâte à choux and puff pastry. I don’t know who…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

And then there is this City. It has leaked into my bones.

That might be the cold. Nevermind.

I LOVE being here. I love the bone-chilling walk to the subway each morning, the rush of people, the energy that emanates from every corner, and the possibilities. It makes me feel that I can work harder, do more, push for better.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

So what have I actually been making?

How much time do you have? Or tolerance for looking at sinfully delicious treats that you can’t have?

Tarts and Pies rocked my world. The number and complexity of the fillings and decorations made them more challenging than anything else we’ve made.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

My new partner and I worked with surgical precision: organizing and executing the 3-4 pies/tarts that we made each day with the speed and coordination of Le Tour de France. We were a tour de force.

I mean if I do say so myself…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

So I thought tarts and pies were my favorite until we got to pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). I cannot resist the flakey buttery goodness that is puff pastry. You fill that with some frangipane and I lose all sense of reason.

I haven’t seen my self-control (or waistline) in weeks!

Puff and I…we’re on a first name basis. So in love.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

These Sacristans are basically strips of puff pastry rolled up with sugar, chopped almonds and more sugar (what did I tell you yesterday? #sugarallthethings), and they are one of the most addicting sweets that I have ever had.

Like EVER. I ate 10 before we even left class. And then I took one of chef’s (thank you Chef Jürgen!). And then I had to taste test some of my partner’s (Thank you, Chiara!).
Just to be sure. I am here to learn after all!

Culinary School Update: Part Two

And this Gâteau Pithivier? Shut the front door. So good. Buttery, flakey Puff wrapped around frangipane, which is almond cream mixed with pastry cream. So sinfully delicious.

Culinary School Update: Part Two

But my absolute favorites were the Conversations (top right above). Adorable little Puff tartlettes filled with almond cream, topped with more buttery Puff, and then covered with royal icing. In the oven the royal icing hardens and becomes a sugary sweet crunchy topping that compliments the creamy almond filling and flakey buttery pastry.

I have a weakness for almond cream. Can you tell?

And the little Tartes aux Poires en Cages (bottom pictures above). Can you even stand the cuteness?

I have had Tarte Tatin; I have had Tarte Tatin in Paris.

I hated it. Mushy flavorless apples on a non-descript pastry base. Bleh.

Tarte Tatin Caramelized

That is not this Tarte Tatin. Nope. The one we made has flambéed caramelized apple halves that are baked under a magical puff pastry crust. And it is mind-blowingly delicious. Caramel, apples, brandy, buttery flakey Puff. You get the picture…

Culinary School Update: Part Two

I suppose I shouldn’t skip pâte à choux entirely but I’m kind of Meh on it. There were practically riots in the women’s locker room when I voiced this strangely unpopular opinion, but there, I’ve said it. Meh.

If you like éclairs more than life itself (you know who you are…Chiara), then I apologize, but the dough is flavorless and the combination of creamy cold inside and puffy outside just isn’t my thang.

Oh! Except the filling for the Paris-Brest! Think of it like Nutella on crack. It is creamy and flavorful and I could not stop eating it. I almost piped it straight into my mouth. But I refrained because I’m a lady. Bad Lindsey. Bad!

Culinary School Update: Part Two

To top it all off I got to meet Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Isreal. Ben-Isreal is a graduate of the ICC and Jacques Torres is the Pastry Dean. Both AH-mazing.

Are you still with me? I can’t possibly cover everything in one post, so to see what I make each day and just follow along on my adventure, follow me on Instagram.

Hi, I’m Chef Lindsey!

I am the baker, recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Chef Lindsey Farr. I believe in delicious homemade food and the power of dessert!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Oh, girl! I love, love, LOVE this post! Thank you so much for taking the time to document everything…all the photos, the stories, the humor and uploading everything into one incredible post to share with us. You ROCK! Of course, my favorite photos are of you and Chefs Jacques Torres and Ron Ben-Isreal. Everything looks divine! Although I love all pastry, I must agree with you…PUFF rules! There is just no comparing the contrast of buttery, layered, crunchy goodness with creamy and absolutely sublime fillings! Thanks again for sharing, Linds. I’m wishing you every success in the coming weeks and look forward to part three! xo

    1. I knew we were bff for a reason, Stacy! Puff forever! Thanks for reading and just being generally amazing! xoxox

  2. Loved reading this and thinking about you having so much fun. My only concern is that your future blog posts will beyond my ability to execute. I made your pot roast last week and enjoyed it for three nights. Yummm

    1. Don’t worry about that, Josephine! First of all, you have skills and second, I will make everything seem easy! Mmmm pot roast. That reminds me to make that again!

    1. Thank you for being one of my oldest readers, Aunt Susan! I’m so happy to know you are following along! Love you! (And I need to come up to visit soon!)

  3. Lindsey, I wish I could just sit down and talk to you about all of this — I felt the same emotions about culinary school. It was so demanding, invigorating, and I had so much pressure on myself not to fail. The puff pastry unit was one of my favorites, and I had no idea I would love it so much! Making it is easier than I ever would’ve guessed, and I need to do it here at home soon…nice reminder here! I am a huge pate a choux lover, but I won’t hold that against you. haha Everything you’ve made looks beyond amazing and beautiful, and meeting those culinary icons must’ve been a dream come true! I loved reading every word here, and I’m glad you’re enjoying your experience! 🙂

    1. I wish you could sit down and talk to me about it all too! I didn’t know I would love Puff so much either! Maybe we can talk over the phone or Skype or something sometime 🙂

  4. What an amazing adventure/learning experience. I’m so glad you did this. And I’m so glad that I can learn from YOU 🙂

  5. I saw those Tartes aux Poires en Cages on your Instagram and I was super impressed. They are stunning! Sounds like you are having a really awesome experience… and you got to hang with Jacque Torres and the Sweet Genius himself! SO cool!

    1. There is something about a lattice top that just makes the dish look super impressive! Torres was definitely a highlight! Like a major highlight!