Vacation pies aren’t all Chef John Pulsipher cooks up

John Pulsipher stands close to trays of fruit tarts scorching from the oven that had been just lately baked for a bean dinner on the Franco Heart on October 14. He has over 55 years of pie baking expertise and can bake pre-ordered pies for the middle’s vacation pie sale. Picture of Franco Heart

Lewiston — John Pulsipher is a 71-year-old older man who makes use of a cane to get round. In his free time he strikes slowly and thoroughly, however do you catch him within the kitchen?

John Pulsipher baked 60 pies to lift cash for the Franco Heart in Lewiston in 2017. Darren Slover/Solar Journal File

Good luck maintaining with the man. Within the kitchen, Pulsifer strikes with the velocity of a person at dwelling along with his environment.

Pulsifer is actually at dwelling within the kitchen. Any kitchen. This can be a man who has been cooking professionally for practically 60 years. Not way back, he obtained a particular plaque praising him for getting ready 6 million meals throughout his profession.

Spectacular, is not it? Pulsifer has no concept if this quantity is correct.

“I feel they could have exaggerated slightly,” he says in his terse method.

Perhaps, however contemplate this: Pulsifer has been the manager chef at Fernwood Summer time Camp for Women in Poland since 1972. He feeds as much as 400 hungry youngsters on the camp each day, and it’s estimated that he and his workers serve 60,000 meals at Camp Fernwood over Greater than 60,000 meals had been served. Throughout the summer time. Pulsifer has been doing this for over 50 years, and this is only one of his culinary feats.

Math will get loopy. Pulsifer itself doesn’t try to trace the numbers and scoffs at any makes an attempt to take action. He admires the 6,000-square-foot kitchen at Camp Fernwood rather more than he admires the variety of meals it serves. And to suppose that when he first began working on the camp all these years in the past, it was purported to be a brief job.

“The job was purported to final three weeks,” Pulsipher says. “Three lengthy weeks.”

This week Pulsifer might be baking pies for the Franco Heart’s Vacation Pie Sale. The menu lists 37 totally different pies, all produced from scratch. The crusts had been produced from vegetable shortening, butter, flour, and salt. The fillings are produced from scratch, too, in keeping with Pulsifer.

“It is contemporary fruit frozen into fruit pie fillings,” he says. “Forest Fruit Pie is a mixture of apples, rhubarb, raspberries and raspberries, all contemporary frozen,” he mentioned.

Within the coming days, he might be making tourtière tarts, salmon tarts (contemporary salmon, thoughts you, not canned ones) and all the favourite vacation dessert pies. By late final Wednesday, the day earlier than the order deadline, 79 Pulsifer pies had been pre-ordered.

“I ordered 5 pies for my vacation meal,” says Denise Scammon, director of promoting and growth for the Franco Heart. “Three of them are pasties. “I acquired one pumpkin and one chocolate cream pie as a result of I heard John makes the most effective chocolate cream pies ever.”

Does he make the most effective chocolate cream pie on this planet? Do not ask Pulsipher. This chef is as humble as they arrive. There is a particular no-nonsense perspective about him, and if you wish to get Pulsifer’s ideas on one thing, you will in all probability should chase him across the kitchen to take action.

John Pulsipher and sous chef Thierry Clavette pose with a number of the 200 pies they baked on the Franco Heart’s annual public sale in 2017. Courtesy Mitchell Clyde Thomas

Similar to the grams used to make it

Within the cramped kitchen in the back of the Franco Heart final Wednesday afternoon, Pulsifer was shifting at that environment friendly velocity we talked about earlier. Right here he takes a roasted rooster out of the pan and drains the juice right into a bowl. Then he is on the opposite aspect of the kitchen, placing a frying pan within the washer and taking one other out of the cabinet. Observe him there and he’ll head off to the following mission, squealing and thumping as he goes.

Though it is a comparatively small kitchen — “a typical outdated church kitchen,” he calls it — Pulsifer has been fairly snug working right here for the previous eight years. When the middle hosts a bean dinner, a vacation occasion or any sort of factor that requires meals, they name on their head chef, John Pulsipher. Along with baking all the vacation pies, for instance, Pulsifer can be getting ready rooster salad and different gadgets for an upcoming Franco Heart occasion throughout which 130 folks might want to eat.

If Pulsifer is concerned by the large quantity of cooking he does by commerce, it does not present. Why ought to he try this, when you think about how lengthy he is been doing it? The man is a type of uncommon individuals who knew what he needed to do along with his life when he was nonetheless in elementary college.

“My mom hated cooking,” Pulsipher says. “She wasn’t unhealthy at it, she simply hated doing it, so my grandmother taught me to bake bread and stuff.”

Pulsipher continued to hone his culinary abilities all through his college profession, specializing in baking.

“After I was in highschool, I believed I needed to be a baker, however in these days, eating places had been eliminating all their bakers,” he says. “There have been no baking jobs, so I simply saved cooking.”

He graduated from Edward Little Excessive Faculty after which set off for an unknown culinary future.

Enjoyable truth about John Pulsipher: In some unspecified time in the future after commencement, Pulsipher was anticipated to affix the CIA.

No, in actual fact, the CIA accepted him into its ranks and every part. There is just one growth.

“Not the federal government’s CIA,” Pulsipher mentioned when he noticed the puzzled look on the reporter’s face. “The Culinary Institute of America. I used to be accepted there, however my father would not let me go. He did not wish to divorce me in New Haven, Connecticut.”

As an alternative, Pulsipher graduated from the culinary arts program at what was then Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute. From there, he cooked virtually nonstop, spending time as a chef at quite a lot of eating places, together with The Metropolis Facet Grill in Lewiston and Eddie’s Diner, which later grew to become the Village Inn in Auburn.

He owned and operated Purple’s Pizza in Mechanic Falls and Egcettera in Poland, and in addition taught culinary arts at Central Maine Neighborhood Faculty. Given his culinary profession, one may get the impression that Pulsifer does all of it.

However this isn’t totally true.

“I completely hate short-term cooking,” he says. “It is simply annoying coping with the waitstaff and all that.”

There’s additionally the difficulty of him cooking meals for himself at dwelling. Together with his youngsters grown and his spouse gone, it is easy to kind a picture of John Pulsipher getting ready luxurious seven-course meals for himself in his sprawling, immaculate kitchen.

Guess once more. In truth, Pulsifer laughs on the concept.

“After I have been cooking all day, the very last thing I wish to do is go dwelling and prepare dinner,” he says. “More often than not, you’ll be able to’t even discover the highest of my range. I’ve a cookie jar in there, all of the teapots and a few cast-iron skillets. I haven’t got any room in there in any respect. I exploit one range for breakfast, that is all.” The command.

One wonders what the person eats for dinner.

“That is why we invented drive-thru and drop-off,” he says.

John Pulsipher pulls two peach/raspberry pies from the oven on the Franco Heart in Lewiston in 2017. Darren Slover/Solar Journal

Flip meals into an occasion

It was Mitchell Clyde Thomas, former director of the Franco Heart, who employed Pulsifer in 2015 to satisfy the middle’s numerous wants. He employed the chef particularly due to his flexibility and open thoughts, and Thomas was not disenchanted when he began Pulsifer.

“When John got here in, he was keen to strive totally different dishes and complete meals outdoors of his consolation zone,” Thomas says. “So we’re asking him to come back in and supervise and assist out this large group of ladies from a selected African nation, relying on the marriage or the occasion. Not solely will he be working the kitchen with these 12 or so girls with meals at every place, however he’ll additionally get in there and study from them.” , and even gives solutions on put together all this meals and match it right into a commercial-sized kitchen. We had been having large African weddings and John was in the course of it.

“He was additionally an awesome useful resource when it got here to our promenade meals and different specials we did,” Thomas says. “Specials included issues like a medieval feast and a pirate banquet. He was filled with concepts for menus and adorning. The person was an awesome useful resource for decor. Very inventive.”

Then there are the pancakes. Over the course of 1 12 months, with the assistance of sous chef Thierry Clavette, Pulsifer rolled out greater than 200 pies to promote to most of the people.

“We took orders forward of time and he ran the entire thing,” Thomas says. “He is among the most organized folks I’ve ever met.”

Organized and expert, little doubt. In the event you begin speaking to individuals who have labored with Pulsifer or who’ve eaten with him, you’ll understand that the tales about his skills will not be exaggerated.

“I knew him when he ran Metropolis Facet Grill on Park Road,” says Paul Cote Jr., who used to work at Pulsifer. “Everybody beloved his cooking – and had been within the desserts.”

Once you point out that type of accolade to Pulsifer, he shrugs once more. Then he is off to the following kitchen activity, and your brother wants trainers to maintain up with him.

The taciturn nature is simply type of his private type. Thomas says Pulsifer has an awesome sense of humour, nevertheless it’s a sarcastic one and never all the time simple to learn. Is he upset? Amused? Are you cheerful to speak to me or do you want I may go away?

“Not everybody understands his generally robust exterior, however I actually admire his good thoughts and talent to show meals into an occasion,” Thomas says.

And whereas there is no scarcity of people that would rave about Pulsifer’s meat pies, desserts and different culinary creations, Thomas is fast to reward the person’s character as effectively.

“John is a really form and beneficiant human being,” he says. “Most individuals don’t know the sacrifices he made for folks all through his life. He would actually have the shirt off his again.”

On the finish of the interview with Pulsipher within the Franco Heart kitchen, this reporter scratched his head, reviewed his notes and questioned aloud whether or not he had sufficient to work with.

“Do I’ve extra questions for you?” I requested.

“I hope not,” mentioned Pulsipher.

There’s this sarcastic humorousness. The person was simply joking.

We imagine.


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