Elizabeth Lee – The Macaroon Queen
The beginning of summer this year was an interesting time at Chinched Bistro. Not only did it mark the beginning of the first summer ever for Chinched, it also marked adoption of Elizabeth Lee into the Chinched Family.
Fresh from the Culinary Institute of Canada located in PEI Elizabeth joined the team as part of her programs cooperative component and left 5 months later as part of the family.
“Unfortunately, no amount of schooling can prepare you for your first job in the kitchen,” says Chef and part owner, Shaun Hussey. “From long hours, to spending the entire day on your feet to dealing with the chaos of the evening rush, the only thing that prepares you for it is to do it.” Fortunately for Chinched, Liz (as her friends call her) was a machine. After getting settled into her new surroundings Liz hit the ground running and within a week was manning her own station like a seasoned vet.
For the duration of the summer Liz managed the pantry, churning out appetizers, charcuterie and desserts like it was her true
calling. Prior to Liz’s arrival the pantry was manned by two people; Michelle LeBlanc (the 2nd half of the Chinched ownership team) was responsible for prep and the bread program in the mornings while a line cook would need to come in for evening service.
“It was amazing to have someone new come into the kitchen and take over the prep as well as the bread program and not miss a beat,” says Michelle. From prep to service Liz did fantastic work.
Very quickly it became apparent that Liz had a flair for baking and desserts. Soon after Liz arrived at Chinched the spring menu ended and the summer menu began. Liz whipped up a classic sour cream peach tart that became a mainstay on the summer dessert menu. As if that wasn’t enough she created and ran various dessert features throughout the summer months including a Chocolate Brownie Cheesecake, a Chocolate Honey Cake with a Marzipan Bumblebee, and her famous French Macaroons.
Prior to her time with Chinched Liz had been exposed to making French Macaroons, a delicate dessert made from whipped egg whites, sugar and ground almonds considered to be quite the tedious dessert. In the past she had never been able to master them and was determined to use her time at Chinched to change that.
Trial and error, attempt after attempt yielded results that were underwhelming. Liz however was unfazed and continued her research until finally she was able to create what can only be described as art on a plate.
The missing link as it turned out was exhaustively whipping the ingredients. “It goes against everything I knew about baking,” said Michelle, “but it’s hard to argue with what she was able to create.”
The final dessert feature Liz ran was a Macaroon Burger (right) with a dark chocolate ganache ‘patty,’ fresh mint ‘lettuce,’ local strawberry ‘ketchup’ and shortbread fries was a monstrous success. It was one of the most visually appealing plates served throughout the summer.
For someone who barely breaks 5 feet, she certainly left a big void. Liz truly became one of the family during her time in St. John’s and she will be deeply missed. There is no doubt that no one will ever be able to pull off leather boots and chef’s pant quite like Liz did.
So Liz from all of us here at Chinched; We miss you dearly and we wish you all the best with everything you do in the future!