Montage Field Trip With The Best Cake Artist in America

We just wrapped up another week at Little Feet in the Kitchen summer cooking camp with a field trip to the Montage Beverly Hills, hosted by the incredibly charming and talented Chef Richard Ruskell, winner of Food Network’s “Last Cake Standing” — also known as The Best Cake Artist in America.

Putting on chef hats in anticipation of meeting Chef Ruskell

Our wonderful mommy drivers - thank you!

Chef Ruskell first gave us a tour of the luxe Montage Hotel, including the rooftop garden…

checking out the view

…the lobby, tearoom, the ballroom and the outstanding open kitchen, which boasts a special chef’s table for the very lucky.

Though the enormous open kitchen boasting shiny copper pots, luscious marble countertops and state-of-the-art equipment was awe-inspiring, our favorite room was the special Pastry Room, the door of which is closed tightly to the public for various reasons. Entering this room was like entering a sanctuary… a sugar sanctuary, that is, as this is where cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, French macarons, chocolate dipped strawberries and every possible treat are born.

The Artist's "Paints"

Our stomachs growled as Chef Ruskell explained various buttercream techniques and the delicious cakes, cookies, desserts and pastries made at the hotel.

Luckily, Chef Ruskell was not only generous with his time and baking secrets, but also with his desserts!  He and one of his sous chefs surprised us with a cupcake decorating lesson, as well as some of his famous chocolate chip cookies… the best!

If campers hadn’t impressed the chef with their knowledge of kitchen terms such as mise en place, they definitely surprised him with their piping skills.

We love Chef Ruskell’s trick of reusing cupcake crumbs as sprinkles (below)… we’ll sign up for that recycling program anytime!

But enough about cupcakes… we wanted to see just one more cake created by the master, and we were not disappointed!  Just look at the sculpted chocolate details on this very special cake, which was made for a top secret celebrity…

dogs sculpted out of what else... CHOCOLATE!

After those delicious cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies & all of those wonderful tips from a celebrity pastry chef, the last thing we wanted to do was leave, however, Chef Ruskell had to get back to his sweet confections, so we said goodbye, and headed back to Studio City, visions of sugar still dancing in our heads.

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Lighter Than Air

Welcome to the blog for adventurous young chefs where there are no chicken nuggets allowed!

This week, campers are focusing on lighter fare.  First up was eggs, and after cracking & separating to our hearts content, we cooked up some fluffy scrambled eggs with black truffle butter and two kinds of souffles: dark chocolate and lemon-lime with raspberry sauce.  Did you know that souffle means “to blow up” in French?  Ours definitely lived up to their names!

Second day was all about salads, and among others, we created mini-caesar salads in parmesan cups… the perfect appetizer for a dinner party!

We created our own signature salad dressings and made a Farro Salad with Mint, Peas, Arrugula and Burrata Cheese.  Our non-salad eaters promptly became salad eaters after a day in the kitchen.

Third day… let’s see… kids in the kitchen, so you automatically think… PARISIAN MACARONS!  We had so much fun creating chocolate, orange blossom, strawberry & vanilla macarons with various fillings.  Here are the chocolate ones, just out of the oven.

Children made these - take that, LaDuree!

The (macaron) filling station

Some of us opted to put some finishing touches of gold dust on their macarons… This chocolate-gold specimen tasted as good as it looks!

 

Okay, maybe these leftovers got a little crushed, but in this box, don’t they make you feel like you’re in Paris?

We have two more days in this week’s summer cooking camp, and we can’t wait to try the honeydew melon, cucumber, mint & jalapeno puree tomorrow… Check back in a few days to find out what the secret ingredient of tomorrow’s Iron Chef Contest is — you won’t believe it!