Preparing for a bench test with the Executive Pastry Chef at Disneyland Resort and kinda freaking out.

Business By TheNerdyBaker Updated 2 Dec 2014 , 11:25pm by TheNerdyBaker

TheNerdyBaker Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 3:37am
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Okay guys and gals, I have no idea if this is the right subforum for this, or even the right forum period for this, but here we go.


Today I went in for my preliminary interview with the casting department in relation to an available Pastry Chef position.  Long story short, they informed me that the next step in the application was completing a 5 hour bench test with their Executive Chef that comprises of a plated dessert of my choice, a mini dessert plate with two desserts, and one quickbread.


Now, my experience lies mainly in cake production and cake decoration, and I have no formal schooling, thus the freak out aspect.


Now I am confidant that I can pull it off with flying colors, but I wanted to pass some ideas by some people who might be more experienced than me in tests like these.


My idea is to roughly base each of the three test categories on a particular movie.


For my plated dessert, I wanted a Frozen theme.  Elsa will be a white wine granita and canelle of sea salt ice cream dyed to match her dress color, and two or three colors of sugar decorations to represent Elsa’s powers. Anna will consist of a cayenne pepper molten chocolate cake with a chocolate acetate spiral to symbolize the castle walls she was trapped in. The plate will be decorated with two sauces; a vanilla bean custard sauce and a strawberry sauce. They will be scrolled from each side of the plate, and meet in the middle.


For my quickbread I am going to do a nutmeg spiced banana bread with cinnamon streusal and served with a rum butter caramel sauce.  King Louie deserves nothing but the best after all.


The two mini desserts is where I am having an issue for some reason.  I'm not exactly sure how "mini" they are talking about.


Keep in mind, all of this needs to be completed within 5 hours, which I think is doable assuming a strong plan for the mini plate.


I know there aren't many questions buried in this wall of text, but tips and advice would be welcome in ANY form.


Thanks for looking <3

65 replies
MnSnow Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 4:23am
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Ambitious! Best of Luck to'll rock it out :)

CreationsbyNicole Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 4:37am
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AIf I were disney, I'd hire you just off the descriptions and the amount of thought you've already put in! Sounds like you've got this nailed! Can't wait to hear how it goes!

CreationsbyNicole Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 4:41am
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AI haven't seem the movie yet but my kids instantly fell in love with the snow man. What about incorporating him as the minis? Maybe part being his body and another his head (didn't I see a preview of him holding his head something like that.....sounds so Or a build your own "snowman name" with the pieces being the mini dessert options.

Just some thoughts......but you'll do great!

Nici Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 5:25am
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ATry checking out some restaurant menues as mini desserts are becoming quite a trend now. I think they are just enough for a taste. Think these are meant to be either a way to sell a dessert to customers who are too full after a meal to order a full sized dessert or so customer don't have to make up their mind about all the choices and can choose say three minis that would equal a full size dessert. Each one might be about 2oz maybe? Hope this helps. Good luck!

JWinslow Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 3:38pm
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How exciting for you - Congratulations and best of luck to you.  What your planning sounds delicious. I wish I could be more help...things that come to mind are mini eclairs, mini tarts, or chocolate covered strawberries/pistachios but checking out restaurants should spark something in you.

Crazy-Gray Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 4:04pm
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AOh Wow! Best of luck!!

To me a mini Dessert would be a flavourful mouthful hugely tarted up with OTT decorations, Since you have to make two maybe go for a pair theme- Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum perhaps or even Beauty and the Beast- that might be better: two contrasting creations maybe one panna cotta based and the other chilli chocolate....

One of the biggest tests I suspect will be time management and not taking on more than you can do in 5 hours so be careful!

leah_s Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 4:44pm
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Sounds good.  Just a note of caution, in case you have to provide written descriptions.  It's quennelle, not canelle.

Stitches Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 5:07pm
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Is your chocolate garnish going on a warm or hot molten cake? If so, it will melt........use a tuile instead.

CWR41 Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 9:01pm
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Originally Posted by TheNerdyBaker 


Also, streusal is spelled streusel.

DisneyDreamer Posted 5 Feb 2014 , 11:13pm
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OOD LUCK!!!!!!! 

TheNerdyBaker Posted 6 Feb 2014 , 5:00am
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A Quick Update-


I think I have finalized my menu, thanks to a nudge in the right direction from you guys.


My plated dessert is what I explained above, except the chocolate garnish for Anna will be replaced with a poured sugar cage around the cake.


My quick bread will be exactly as described above.


And for the plate of mini desserts I have decided to use a Beauty and the Beast theme in the form of an orange vanilla panna cotta for Belle, and an orange scented dark chocolate pot de creme for Beast , as I want the two to play off each other.


Thank you so much guys and gals!


I'll keep you posted when I know what day I go in for the examination =D

thecakewitch Posted 6 Feb 2014 , 7:10am
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AJust a few thoughts: research on the style of cooking of the Exec. Chef. You said you don't have formal training, read baking books (CIA, Le Cordon Bleu) and practice. Not all kitchens are equal, make room for adjustment (your food, your work attitude, time constraint, oven availability, etc.). Make a list of the components of your dessert and the steps to make it or what to make first. I like to sketch my plate. Just like designing a cake, i make dessert sketches. Your flavor combination should make sense together, sometimes keeping it simple is a good thing. Good luck!

MimiFix Posted 6 Feb 2014 , 1:17pm
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Love this thread, it brings out the best in our CC community. Good luck, TheNerdyBaker  ;-D

thecakewitch Posted 6 Feb 2014 , 2:17pm
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AI don't want to nit pick your dessert and this are just my opinion. In the end it is up to you to decide.

"For my plated dessert, I wanted a Frozen theme. Elsa will be a white wine granita and canelle of sea salt ice cream dyed to match her dress color, and two or three colors of sugar decorations to represent Elsa’s powers. Anna will consist of a cayenne pepper molten chocolate cake with a chocolate acetate spiral to symbolize the castle walls she was trapped in. The plate will be decorated with two sauces; a vanilla bean custard sauce and a strawberry sauce. They will be scrolled from each side of the plate, and meet in the middle."

1. Sugar decoration- is it made from isomalt or plain sugar? A lot of chefs are particular about all components being edible on a plate. And if the component is necessary. 2. Molten Choco cake - personally, everytime i see this item on a menu, i think of the 80's. 3. I like to have different textures. Unless the sugar decor is your crunch item, i find your plate soft/creamy on soft/creamy. 4. I don't know your recipes, but i like that you have a little salt and spice.

Your competition will be Culinary school graduates (they recruit them during career day). Be confident with your skills and what you can do. Also, personality is important. Make them want to work with you.

Crazy-Gray Posted 6 Feb 2014 , 2:17pm
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Originally Posted by MimiFix 

Love this thread, it brings out the best in our CC community. Good luck, TheNerdyBaker  ;-D 


Me too :-) this is the best kind of helpfulness and to someone so grateful it's lovely :-)

NerdyBaker I wish I could pop round and sample your practice runs! They really sound amazing!

AnnieCahill Posted 8 Feb 2014 , 12:57am
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AI would do a Grand Marnier creme brûlée and a dark chocolate cake with ganache for the minis, or even a Black Forest cake (epic). A mini is usually considered 3 bites, so maybe 3 to 4 inches across. I also am not a fan of the molten lava cake. It's something you'd get at Chili's, not a upscale place.

Not sure about the spun sugar cage either. That might be iffy if the weather is humid.

But yeah, the French love their Grand Marnier.

howboutbake Posted 10 Feb 2014 , 8:55am
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There is an EXCELLENT pastry competition series that you can watch on youtube (I think it's still there) called "Le Meilleur Patissier" and I remember seeing them doing a wide variety of miniature-type desserts. 


The main issue is that it's in French, but it's not too difficult to follow along, and you can tell who wins and loses via their facial expressions.  


As a rule (and I apologize if I am stereotyping), Europeans tend to like their desserts less sweet than Americans, but then again it's Disney in america, so you'll have to walk that line


Also, if you can incorporate at least one dessert that helps a food-restricted group it could help your chances (gluten-free, egg-free, kosher, dairy-free etc.)  I think a gluten free chocolate dessert wouldn't be too difficult...maybe even modifying that molten cake? 


Good luck!!!

TheNerdyBaker Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 5:56pm
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Just got the call today for the hands on assessment.  It is scheduled for next Friday at 10am, and the friggin' Mouse threw me a curve ball D=


The 5 hour assessment that they outlined in the paper they gave me was a misprint apparently; I only have 3 HOURS!


At this point in time, I have gone in to full panic mode.


Everything has to change now =/

AnnieCahill Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 6:36pm
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ADon't panic, just plan. I still think you need to do the classics. You can never go wrong with a classic mousse for your plated dessert, served with fresh fruit. I think your quick bread choice is fine. For your minis, those should be 3-4 inches in diameter, enough for 3-5 bites. For the minis, I'd go with a creme brûlée like I mentioned above. You have time to do a genoise or biscuit roulade (would be better) and then you could cut rounds and mold them with ganache or mousses or creative crunches. You can do it!!!

Never underestimate well-done classics.

AnnieCahill Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 6:41pm
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AI keep going back to the creme brûlée and Black Forest because it reminds me of Beauty and the Beast. You could do the mousse for Belle instead of the creme brûlée. I like something dark for the Beast though, either ganache or chocolate shavings.

I forgot about your frozen theme. What about a fresh fruit sorbet? You could still use spices and maybe do some tuile cookies.

scrumdiddlycakes Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 6:45pm
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This might be a silly question, but are absolutely sure the entire menu is up to you, or just the one plated dessert? Almost every bench test I have ever done was more about my technique, ability to follow instructions without getting overwhelmed, how I handle a kitchen, my hygiene practices, organization, etc.

This has nothing to do with the menu portion, and may seem elementary, but so many people screw it up. Show up clean! Clean fingernails, no hair hanging down, clean shaven, no jewelery, clean chef's coat, appropriate footwear, etc.
I used to be the nasty person on the other end of bench tests, I crossed off so many people because of not washing their hands before they started, dirty fingernails and rings.

I always had a pair of chopsticks in my case for plating, if you use something a bit unusual like that, take it, but don't show up with a huge tool box, lol.


Biggest piece of advice, clean as you go! A messy work station will not be tolerated.

3 hours isn't as scary as it sounds. You want elements that can be made simultaneously, if you are melting chocolate for 4 recipes, make sure you only have to do it once. A timeline is important, make your menu, keep it simple and classic, don't second guess it! Do a trial run every day if you can, know your process inside and out.

thecakewitch Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 6:46pm
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AOh that is a curve ball! 3 hours to set up ice cream or granita is pushing it, unless they have a blast freezer or you know how to use liquid nitrogen (if they have it). Think of a multi purpose dessert elements like a raspberry puree for sauce which you can use also with some Chambord to make some kind of bavarois. Or a Choux paste to make profiteroles which you can also use the paste for decoration (pipe a design on parchment then bake).

The important thing is plan! Good luck!

LeanneW Posted 13 Feb 2014 , 8:38pm
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TheNerdyBaker Posted 14 Feb 2014 , 3:33am
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Thank you so much for that.  Excellent insight =D


So after I learned more about the time limits and where I would be working, I tweaked my menu completely o.O


My quick bread is now a Bananas Foster Bread with a Rum Brown Sugar Soak and Walnut Streusel.  I combined my original idea in to one item in order to simplify.


My mini dessert plate has become a Cinnamon Dark Chocolate Cream Puff with Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream, dipped in White Chocolate Ganache.  The second mini dessert in an Orange Strawberry Mousse in a store bought white chocolate cup (they said we could use 1 store bought cup).


My plated dessert has become a Fireside S'Mores Cake with graham cracker crust, a dark chocolate chili cake and toasted meringue with a scratch chocolate sauce.


A majority of my new menu is practically stir things together and serve, plus like you said I have multiple uses for several items, so I think it will fit much nicer inside the time constraint.  


I feel confidant with this new menu, and they still fit with my "Every dessert is a character" thing I wanted to do.


Time for practice and planning.  LOTS of practice and planning.

theresaf Posted 14 Feb 2014 , 10:06pm
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Good Luck!  Love the Smores idea - it appeals to children of all ages and yours sounds amped up and delish!


Crazy-Gray Posted 20 Feb 2014 , 8:42am
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AI know you're probably really busy practicing but good luck for tomorrow :-)

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