Still not cooking yet! But, my oh my, are we learning. Each week, our culinary chef gives us a homework assignment; "Outline what you have learned this week". The first week, I had about a half page of outlined information. This week, I had two and a half pages of information. That was only four days worth of notes. Quite the accelerated pace. Knife cuts to cooking terms, putting up stock to taking it down. As you might have ascertained, note taking is not only mandatory, but necessary, just to keep up with all the information we are fed. Doing outlines really helps you re-learn all the things we go over. These Chef's are good!
One bit of good news, I'm going to learn how to fabricate, cure and smoke...BACON.
Yesss! Makin' Bacon and greasy note takin'! I can't wait.
Just so you know, I won't be updating my blog every day. Some class days are boring, yesterday was one of those days. Today was terminology day. All the terms for making the most basic of cooking ingredients, STOCK!
For example; Suc, Reduction, Fond, Glace-de-Viande, remoullag, demi-glace, mirapoix, Maillard, Caramelization, Blanch, Au sec, Demi sec and Sachet. Pretty cool stuff.
Our Chef was in heaven. He loves to throw terminology at us. "Pretty cool stuff", is one of his favorite expressions. So if you see it here, he said it first. Maybe not a cooking term, but we have learned that it usually precedes, That will be on the exam!
I'm sure everyone has followed a recipe in their life. Not hard to do. Cup of this, tsp of that, pinch of salt and voila, a great tasting meal.
So lets say you have a great recipe that makes two servings. Easy to follow and so very good, you then decide to invite 100 of your closest friends and want to make that same dish. NOW WHAT!
Learning how to convert recipes is the job of every culinary student. Does a tsp of salt for two suddenly become two cups of salt for a 100? Maybe, but probably not. For main ingredients there is a conversion equation you can use. For seasoning, good luck, cuz you're on your own. Our chef told us,"use your heart, not your head". Huh?
Now I'm confused. Nobody said this was going to be easy.
Somebody hand me a potato so I can Tourney the damn thing!
It's been 43 years since I have done school work. After graduating high school in 1967, I joined the Navy, got discharged, got a job, got married and had a daughter. No school work required there. Now I find myself having to do school work. Book reports, writing papers, reading chapters and taking tests. In the 60's I dreaded doing these things. I guess everyone finds doing things that they like, enjoyable. That's where I find myself now. Enjoying the school work. Who da thunk it?
Well, I made it thru the first week without doing either of two things; doing something stupid with my knife or poisoning our Chef. The second was easy, we didn't cook for the chef's. That's always their #1 worry, that we'll make them sick. Number two is we'll accidently stab them. Those might be inter-changeable.
Fun fact! Friday's are buffet days. An earlier class that is in it's Garde Manger session (pronounced gard mawn zhay) made a breakfast buffet for the entire student body and I mean it was awesome. Everything from fried chicken to waffles, crepe's to french toast, tons of food and very delicious. I should have taken a picture of the buffet. Damn! Best thing was a (get this) a chocolate/bacon cupcake. Oh my gosh, was that good.
Oh yea, I made an apple swan. (see that picture) And yes, it's hanging on our refrigerator. Not the swan, I ate that , the picture.
Cuts! No not my fingers or hands but cuts we use to charge you more.
Batonnet, macedoine, brunoise, julienne, parmentier, concasse, chiffonade, rondelle, tourne and so many more. Yes, I have to not only learn how to do them, but how to pronounce them. I find it funny that we use so much french language as well as so much hispanic help in resturants.
Learning new things is cool. For example, I never new that the sense of tastes found in your tongue is sort of like a artists palete. The tongue tastes seasonings, the nose, flavors. Different areas of your tongue taste sweet, salty, sour and bitter. That new tastes include Umami, an oriental word that sort of means earthy and even newer tastes including astrigent and metallic. All tastes that we have to develop as cooks.
No so cool. Pictures of a place in Orange county inspected by the health department. OH MY GOD! You know those signs posted on entrances of eateries by the health department (A, B, C), pay attention them. Or eat at your own peril.
We have two great Chefs as instructors. Steve Brown grew up in East LA and has a great way of teaching us newbies. He is our culinary Chef and lets us know how to save money on our tools, simplifies techniques and is very encouraging. Chef Jeff Haines is our ServSafe instructor. Great sense of humor and extremely knowledgeable. Chef Haines is the only chef ever to close down Sunset Blvd. He was the Executive Chef of the Key Club. When it opened, they had 4000 people in the streets to hear bands and eat. I think I'm in good hands.
So, I am back at school. Still had first day jitters, but a few things had changed since February. Fewer students, two sessions each day and we are only in class for 3 hours for the first six weeks. Besides beginning culinary, we also are preparing to take our National ServSafe test. More things about how people are made sick by us than I really want to know about. Makes you think twice about taking that potato salad home from the market deli. Eggs, mayo, YIKES! Did they keep it at the right temp? Just so you know, the temperature danger zone is 41 to 135 degrees. Anything kept for a length of time inside of these temps will breed all sorts of nasty stuff. Gives that song Danger Zone a whole new meaning.
Chris and I returned from the British Virgin Islands tanned, full and wobbly. Six days on a sail boat will make you hunger for steady land. Alas, it's not always easy to find. Even after you reach it. But, we had a fantastic time aboard the Promenade with Kerry and Bazza the owners, Rich and Lisa (Lulu), Captain and head chef, deck hand Conner and our intrepid passenger friends, Pam, Sheryl and Margot. I've got to say the BVI is unbelievably beautiful. The Promenade is even better. I don't believe I have had so many different Rum drinks. All of them great. Thanks guys for a great vacation. RRRRRGGHHH! (pirate speak)
I have signed up for school and there had been some changes made. For one thing, it's cheaper, Yippey! And, it's longer. Going from 7 months to 9 months. I pick up my books on the 11th and start on the 17th. Finishing up sometime in February of 2011. Will post more once school starts back up again. Till then, keep safe and enjoy while you can.