January 6, 2014
From onmilwaukee.com: “Pastry Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer: Through the eyes of an apprentice” — World renowned pastry chef Jacquey Pfeiffer, co-founder of Chicago’s French Pastry School and author of the new book “The Art of French Pastry,” has won countless accolades for his tireless pursuit of perfection in pastry.
He has also been recognized for his exceptional mentorship, which he has extended to dozens of pastry students from Wisconsin. Some, like Chef Kurt Fogle of SURG Restaurant Group, who Pfeiffer mentions by name as a star pupil, have gone on to make their own marks on the world of pastry.
On January 12, Fogle and a team of some of the city’s finest culinary talent – including Chefs Justin Carlisle of Ardent, Matt Haase of Rocket Baby Bakery, Andrew Miller of Hom Woodfired Grill and Jarvis Williams of Carnevor — will host a dinner honoring Pfeiffer. The five course dinner will serve as a celebration of his life, his work, and his new book.
The menu is being kept under wraps, but Fogle says each chef will be pulling out the stops in an effort to pay homage to Pfeiffer.
“We all work together, and we’re all a little competitive,” Fogle remarks, “So, you know everyone is bringing their A-game. There’s something–without trying to sound like too much of a weirdo — about watching five guys really going for it. To be a person in the room experiencing those dishes.”
Fogle has a particular investment in the dinner, since Pfeiffer was a key influencer in setting the direction of his career.
During his tenure with Pfeiffer, Fogle was one of very few Americans who had the privilege of taking part in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition (Best Craftsmen in France), a competition captured in the documentary, “Kings of Pastry.”
NPR’s Ella Taylor remarked, “Kings of Pastry is about the craft, the teaching and learning, the collaborative work, the tedium, the heartbreak and emotional backbone it takes to make something lovely, even if that something is destined to disappear down a gullet in seconds — and even if the maker ends up a noble failure.”
“The whole damn experience was indelible,” Fogle says. “Working with Pfeiffer was two years of just having my mind blown day after day. And it was exhausting. Nothing will ever be harder than that. Nothing. I’m going to continue to challenge and push myself, but that’s the highest level.”
Working together created a professional and personal bond between the two chefs. Fogle says Pfieffer continued to be his mentor even after he left Chicago. In fact, it was Pfieffer who encouraged Fogle to move back to his home state of Wisconsin after completion of the competition.
“Since I was 15 working at O&H Danish Bakery in Racine, I had a passion for this part of the culinary world, and Pfeiffer encouraged me to come back and see where I could enhance pastry here,” he says.
He credits Pfeiffer with launching his career, as well as setting the direction for his art.
“To sum it up,” Fogle tells me, “He’s one of the best pastry chefs on the planet, and in turn I’m one of the luckiest apprentices to walk the planet.”
He went on to talk about some of the things he took away from his experience.
“I don’t want to say I didn’t learn to cook from him,” Fogle explains. “But what I really learned is how to think, how to be organized. He didn’t teach me how to bake, he taught me how to think.”
And for Fogle, part of that experience was learning that he could do anything to which he set his mind.
“One of the first things you learn from him is that anything is possible, because if it’s impossible we’re just going to create a technique or a tool or a trick to make it happen,” he tells me. “It wasn’t how to hold a spatula and fold mousse. It was the commitment and philosophical aspect I gained – learning to be tenacious and resourceful so that when I get out into the real world… when I don’t have a proofer or a sheeter– and I have an oven with hotspots hotter than Mercury — that I could still put out a great croissant.”
Fogle, who has known Pfeiffer since 2006, says he’s more than just a great teacher and pastry chef.
“He’s really really good at foozeball and ping-pong,” Fogle goes on. “Like he makes me feel bad about even playing against him.”
But, Fogle says his gentle disposition is what really makes Pfeiffer exceptional.
“In all the time I’ve known him, he’s never raised his voice,” he explains. “He’s the sort of guy who just makes you want to do things better – whether it’s pastry or what it is… he just never loses any steam. He’s ok going back and back and back and making things better and better. That’s really what rubbed off the most.”
Fogle, who teaches part-time at MATC in their culinary department, says he learned a great deal about teaching from Pfeiffer.
“I think the most important thing that I learned from him is that you have to be patient, and you have to let people struggle through it… a good example is that he was trying to teach me how to pipe something. I was struggling with holding the bag and not moving it. A couple of years later I realized I was doing it properly. But, I don’t know when it happened. He instilled in the idea that you just need to do it and do it again.”
So, when he teaches, Fogle says he always keeps that in mind.
“The fact is, I can’t talk you into being a good pastry chef, and I can’t make you into a great chef. But, I can be there for you and work with you and help you get there.”
Sounds like the sort of teacher we’d all love to have had.
April 4, 2013
From nbc26.com: “FVTC Culinary Theater officially opens” — GRAND CHUTE — The new Culinary Theater at Fox Valley Technical College in Grand Chute is officially open.
The college held a ribbon cutting ceremony tonight for the new state of the art facility. The 8500-square-foot space features panoramic vantage points for cooking demos and food preparation narrations.
Culinary Arts Department Chair Chef Jeff Igel says, “This is awesome. Having this facility puts us as a cutting edge culinary program, it’s a wonderful facility to teach in. It’s like going to teach in Disneyland.”
The new theater allows 120 people to see the demos clearly and highlights the latest in high-teach kitchen equipment.
From gmtoday.com: “Growing a community of entrepreneurs” — PEWAUKEE – As a former small business owner, Russ Roberts knows what it’s like to navigate the rough waters of starting and building a business. So he’s excited to nurture entrepreneurs through Waukesha County Technical College’s Small Business Center.
Roberts, manager of the Small Business Center, said it is a unique program that is a lot like a community service for WCTC. A variety of courses are offered at low prices, such as Business Plan Development, QuickBooks Pro, Understanding Business Taxes and Law for Business Owners.
When WCTC started the center in 2001 and brought in Roberts, who had owned his own financial planning business, to develop and run it, the college had been supporting entrepreneurs for more than 40 years. The Small Business Center has gone from a few non-credited courses and some counseling in 2001 to at least 16 classes. The center also hosts networking events and offers free one-on-one counseling, the Success Mentor Program and Take a Professional to Lunch Program.
Waukesha County Chairman Paul Decker participates in the Take a Professional to Lunch program and teaches Marketing for Small Business, which will be offered April 10 to May 1.
Sharing practical information
The benefit of taking a business class at WCTC, Decker said, is that the instructors have true business experience and share lots of practical information. “It’s kind of a way to tap the brains of people who have been there,” he said.
As county chairman and the co-founder of Maverick Innovation Lab in Delafield, Decker is invested in Waukesha County’s economy, so he is pleased with how the Small Business Center contributes.
“The essence is that the more businesses that we can create that are viable and strong, and if they get going, hopefully they are going to hire people and you are going to make the economy strong,” he said.
Roberts has a similar view. He said if you get 1,000 entrepreneurs’ businesses off the ground, it’s the same as a company hiring 1,000 employees.
“Most states don’t have resources to put behind micro-entrepreneurs. Google was a couple of guys who started out of a dorm room. By the time they figured it out and were Google, (everyone) wanted to help them at that point. We never know where the next Google is going to come from,” Roberts said.
Rebecca Scarberry, owner of Becky’s Blissful Bakery, is also a believer in WCTC’s Small Business Center and started to teach How to Start a Food Business in 2012. The entrepreneur took Roberts’ FaSTart Workshop class, which is a four-hour informal workshop that provides step-by-step guidance, and received other advice and assistance from Roberts, which she said was a lifeline for her business.
The idea of teaching a class came about after her own business took off and people began to approach Scarberry seeking advice on how to start their own food businesses. Roberts suggested she teach a class, which now averages about 20 to 25 students each session.
“It’s real information,” she said of the Small Business Center. “It’s real assistance for our community for right now.”
Roberts said the center wants to “put support around” starting businesses. “Many times it’s lonely to start a business,” he said.
March 5, 2013
From jsonline.com: “Sustainability Summit broadens its focus” — The challenge of climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be front and center at the Sustainability Summit that begins Wednesday.
The summit, which has broadened its focus from green energy and jobs, will host climate scientists James Hansen of NASA and Michael Mann of Penn State University.
“We broadened our title from green energy summit to sustainability summit because sustainable business practices are catching on all over,” said George Stone, a geologist and instructor at Milwaukee Area Technical College who is chairman of the summit. “More and more corporations in more and more industries are realizing that the triple bottom line makes sense.”
Tom Eggert, who coordinates the Wisconsin Green Masters Program, a business certification initiative, said interest is strong. He already has 42 people signed up for a Friday workshop to help businesses join the initiative, Eggert said.
The summit, whose target audience are business people and students, will be held at the Delta Center, downtown Milwaukee’s convention center.
Hansen’s appearance at the summit comes 25 years after he gained national attention as one of the first climate scientists to warn about climate change at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C.
But Hansen has moved toward activism in his calls for action. He was among those arrested at the White House last month during a protest over the Keystone XL pipeline.
The lineup for this year’s Sustainability Summit includes speakers who have been greeted with standing ovations at past summits – Milwaukee urban food guru and Growing Power founder Will Allen and actor-and-greener-lifestyle speaker Ed Begley Jr.
This year’s conference will also have an international perspective, with speakers from Germany, Israel and China, as well as local presentations from the likes of S.C. Johnson & Son, Johnson Controls Inc. and A.O. Smith Corp.
This year’s summit comes as climate change policy is again at the forefront of initiatives being pushed by the Obama administration. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Gina McCarthy, a regulator who led the Environmental Protection Agency’s crackdown on pollution from coal-fired power plants, to lead the EPA for the next four years.
The administration is pushing carbon regulation through cabinet agencies. It faces opposition in Congress to policies such as a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, as Republicans remain concerned about the effects of carbon rules on the economy and jobs.
The issue has come into more focus as Americans have witnessed the intensity – and cost – of extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy.
“This is an issue that’s now on the front burner,” Stone said . “There have just been a whole string of extreme weather and climate events in real time. It’s driving up costs for everybody; insurance premiums are going up. Some food costs are going up, depending on where you live. It’s going to start costing everybody more and more.”
March 4, 2013
From nbc15.com: “New Compressed Natural Gas pump comes to Madison” — Maria Redmond made a rare trip to a gas station today. She bought her Honda Civic in October of last year. It’s fueled by CNG or Compressed Natural Gas and until now she filled her tank up at MG&E not a traditional gas station.
Today MG&E announced that with some help from the federal government and the State of Wisconsin they installed south central Wisconsin’s first public CNG pumps at the Speedway on Royal Avenue near South Towne.
Debbie Branson with MG&E says, ” We wanted to give some of the fleets in the area who are purchasing CNG vehicles an easy access, 24/7 option for fueling.”
Not only do drivers have a new place to fuel up but CNG costs about 40% to 50% less, emissions are about 30% lower and according to officials with MG&E it could help to significantly cut our dependence on foreign oil.
There are some setbacks to owning a CNG vehicle. You’re going to lose a little bit of trunk space. That’s because the tank sits just behind the back seat.
Craig Lathrop is an automotive instructor at Madison College. He says CNG vehicles can be between $4,000 and $10,000 more expensive. But he sees today’s announcement as a positive.
” There’s not a great structure yet, ” says Lathrop. ” I am stressing the word yet because there’s been great strides lately especially with the energy department and the state promoting it. ”
For drivers like Maria today’s news is great. It means she can spend more time behind the wheel not worrying where she’s going to get the fuel to power them.