At first I wondered if I accidentally signed up for the military, I got my uniform, my weapons (a gorgeous set of knives, and cooking utensils), my regulation shoes - Dansko euro clogs - the most comfy shoes my big feet have trotted around in, I received my post (a stainless steel work area with high-powered gas jets), and an introduction to my commanding officer - the Chef.
Kitchens unlike the military are run with organization, speed, attention to detail and respect for your fellow kitchen soldiers and utmost respect for your commander with replies of “Yes, Chef” after every instruction and “Thank you Chef” after critique.
I was sweating bullets last night, nervous as hell, I didn’t know what to expect and as the evening went on, I become more flustered and challenged. The professional kitchen is a place of hard work, serious attention needs to be paid to what you are doing, it’s hazardous! Razor sharp knives, scalding pots, a slippery floor can cause serious injury. Every movement must be calculated; every action must be thought about then executed and implemented flawlessly.
We learned traditional taillage (methods of cutting veggies) such as julienne, jardinière, macédoine, paysanne, and brunoise. We also learned how to émincer, ciseler, tronçonner, parer, hacher, concasser, and chiffonade our veggies.
Two methods of cooking vegetables; à l’anglaise is a method to cook vegetables prior to service and reheating at time of service. À l’étuvée is used à la minute, or at time of service – cooked to order.
More on this later…