Monday, April 30, 2007

Hot line! The past four weeks I have spent in the Garde Manger, or as we call it the gar-mo. On friday we took the quiz and then started our practical. We had to make fresh pasta in 15 minutes. We had to butcher two chickens in 30 minutes. Then we had 30 minutes to cut veggies into all sorts of shapes. We all finished on time and we all passed, thank goodness.

Today I start the hot line. Chef Dale is my teacher and I have heard the he is very easy to get along with and reasonable. The hot line is where most of the meal is prepared. The main dish. It will be exciting!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Heat of the Kitchen

Today was quite a challenge. Most days have had moments of difficulty but today seemed to be filled with challenges and mishaps. I blame bad math skills on my inability to produce an answer for a formula we are using in our appetizer. Twice I shake my head and receive a slight disapproving look from my chef. Everyone's watching me, the pressure is on, and my grade definitely depends on my ability in all areas of the kitchen. The good news is that this kitchen is the hardest to go through out of the three. Hopefully they are right, and hopefully I can get my math skills together.

I'm learning how to serve properly at a meal as well. Serve the dish in the left hand on the left side of the guest. Pour drinks on the right side of the guest with the label facing the guest so they can gaze upon what beverage we are drinking with our meal. Remove plates on the right with the right hand. I got confused today and served 4 people on the right with the right hand. My chef corrected me on the spot and I felt so stupid as it was in front of several of my fellow classmates. I am glad he corrected me as I would have continued to serve incorrectly the rest of the meal.

Correction stings, no matter what. Taking those corrections and using them as an opportunity to learn is an art that I have not developed quite yet. I believe that I have needed this skill my whole life. It is obvious to some of my classmates just how I am feeling and I wish I wasn't so transparent. I am learning to coach myself through frustrating moments and let some things roll off my back.

Thankfully, I am alive and am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow in areas I didn't expect.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

After 2 Weeks

I still love culinary school! It is awesome! I am learning so much every day and I forget at times how much more there is to learn about food. This past week I learned how to butcher a chicken, make veal stock, make sausages, and the different types of tart doughs. Yum. I wish there was more time in a day so that I could work on what I am learning in order to perfect my skills as well as remembering everything in my head too. I've been in the garde manger for 2 weeks and in two weeks I"ll take my practical in that kitchen and then move on to either the hot line or the pastry kitchen.

There are some things that I didn't think I would learn in school. Things like communicating well with others, getting along with people who I might not like to get along with, and learning through my mistakes instead of getting tripped up on them. My life has gotten busier and my house has gotten dirtier and more cluttered. But it's all worth it and I won't be the same after I graduate.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Guard of the Kitchen

Today was my first day in the Garde Manger, which translates to "Guard of the Kitchen". We had an hour and a half long lecture on sanitation and food borne illness, yummy, and then we were sent to our respective kitchens and got to work. The chef in the Garde Manger is Chef Peter. He's a no nonsense kind of guy who quickly showed us the ropes and then we got to work. We prepared the first course which was a Roqueforte Tart. Roquefort is a blue cheese and we incorporated it with 4 eggs in the food processor. We combined heavy cream and two egg yolks, strained it, then added it to the cheese and egg mixture. Then we added salt and pepper to taste and let it sit at room temp to allow even cooking later on. Next we cut out rounds from puff pastry and baked them. We baked the cheese custard mixture in little stainless steel cups, kind of like condiment cups only with higher sides. Still with me? I drizzled honey on the plates in sort of a tree design and we placed one pastry round in the center (the honey kept the pastry from moving around on the plate and also gave this savory course a sweet side). Then the custards were inverted onto the pastry and I was in charge of carefully placing roasted red and yellow peppers beautifully on top of the custard. One of my fellow classmates then poured a chive oil around the pastry and this gorgeous Roqueforte tart was served.

I was pretty proud of myself, although I didn't take time to take a picture and I should have. It really was pretty to look at and even better in my mouth. I will definitely try this recipe out at home sometime.

Now that I am home, the day is wearing on me and I am realizing more and more how good I had it before school started, BUT I have also realized how much I would be missing if I were still in bed asleep.

Monday, April 2, 2007

First Day of School

Wow! The first day was such a whirlwind of information, learning new techniques, meeting new people, and eating! We started this morning at 8:45 a.m. in our seats with our chef's uniform on and our ears ready to hear from our teachers. We had 2 three inch thick binders in front of us, 2 bar towels, a water class, water carafes nearby, and a big black briefcase-looking thing. We learned quickly that the big black case was our new set of knives and other kitchen tools that we would need along our journey. Yeah!

We met our Executive Chef and Teaching Chefs as well as some administrative personnel and of course, our fellow classmates. They loaded us up with what to do and what not to do while in the kitchen and in class. Finally, around 11:00 we took a picture for our class ID and then got to work on honing our knife skills. Our teacher instructed us to set up our spot for chopping, dicing, and mincing and then proceeded to show us the proper way to hold a knife and use a knife. Some terms I learned today in the realm of how things are prepared, veggies and such, are: Julienne, mire poix, chiffonade, e mince, concasse, and brunoise. All of these terms are specific to how fruits and veggies are prepared. Wow! And it will all be on our quiz this Friday!

For the next three weeks I am a part of the garde manger, a group of 6 who work the kitchen. The other groups are the hot line and the pastry kitchen. I am still a little fuzzy on what my role is in the garde manger, but I bet I will learn fast!

Check out what we had for lunch today: Prosecco (an Italian sparkling white wine), onion, leak, and persillade soup with creamy goat cheese in the middle, and then the main course was a slice of egg and bacon quiche with a side of spicy arugula salad drenched in vinaigrette, for dessert we had a gianduia or chocolate and hazelnut mousse. :) Who has sparkling white wine with their three course lunch? ME!

To say the least, today was a GREAT first day! I had a smile plastered to my face nearly half the time and couldn't stop myself from using the word, "fun" every time I thought something was. One of my classmates declared that I had a low threshold for fun! A great compliment I think!

Tomorrow starts bright and early, once again, and I cannot wait!