"It was through having worked for Chef Keller that I was asked to participate in the Mondial." —Roger Gural
Roger Gural was born and raised on Staten Island, New York. What started out as a hobby eventually transformed into a professional bread baking career. He began by experimenting with pizza dough, and then moved on to artisan breads after he enrolled in the six-week bread course at The FCI. The pizza bread baking resulted from a case of supply and demand: "One night, I was coming home from work, and I had planned on making pizza, but the market was out of dough. So, I made it myself. It wasn’t very good, so I did some research to figure out why, and from there I started to make my own pizza dough."
It wasn't very long after experimenting with pizza dough that his hobby led him to the SoHo location of the school, and then on to working full-time as a baker for several world-class chefs.
After the event, Roger enjoyed dinner with Chef Alain Sailhac (executive vice president and dean emeritus at The FCI) and his wife, Arlene, at the famed Léon de Lyon, a three-Michelin star restaurant, owned and operated by Chef Jean-Paul Lacombe. This dinner was an occasion Roger would always remember as a highlight. Part of the significance of the dinner was that it commemorated an end to the long labor-filled hours of the event and also that it was a finishing marker to the passion for learning something he loved that had brought him to this extraordinary experience of competing in the first place.
Vanilla Baguette with Dried Pear
Recipe created by Roger Gural
This recipe is a favorite of my six-year-old son. The dough is very wet.
150 grams unsulphered dried pears, cut into small slivers
950 grams all-purpose flour
50 grams buckwheat flour
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
820 grams water
20 grams salt
4 grams fresh yeast
1. Place dried pears in a bowl; add enough wine to cover pears. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain off soaking liquid; reserve.
2. Place flours in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook; add vanilla bean; mix well on level one; gradually add water with motor running; mix to combine;remove bowl from mixer; cover. Let stand 30 minutes.
3. Add the salt and yeast. Return to the mixer, and mix on level one 5 minutes; increase speed to level 2; mix 3 minutes. Add pears, and mix on level one for 45 seconds.
4. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl; cover. Let dough stand in a warm spot 20 minutes.
5. Fold dough to release gases. Cover, and let rise another 20 minutes. Repeat process one more time. Let rise another hour. Place dough in refrigerator; reserve overnight.
6. Heat an oven to 470 F with steam.
7. Divide dough into 400 gram pieces, and preshape into logs. Rest 15 minutes. Shape into short baguettes. Place on lightly floured couche; let rise 30 minutes. Score each baguette with lame or sharp pairing knife; bake until golden brown and crispy (about 25 minutes).
Rina Oh is an evening student in the classic culinary arts program and is a contributing writer on Eat Life FCI, The Hot Plate and Food2. When she's not working as a food writer or stylist, she continues developing content for her gossip blog, dining with outlaws, and illustrating a comic book series called The Gastronomic Chronicles.