Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beat the Clock

So on to Level III, new kitchen, new Chef Instructor, new game plan. Here’s the scoop – we work with the same partner as we go through the following stations: Garde Manger, Poissonnier, Saucier, and Pâtissier. My partner for the level is Michele, a successful attorney who has turned her passion for food into a second career option. Michele and I have a very similar style in the kitchen, we like to be organized, prepared and execute our dishes in a timely manner. We start on the pastry station and our task list for the night is Tarte aux Pommes, Crème Chantilly, Crème Choux, and Sauce au Chocolat.

The new space we are in is an old, beat-up kitchen that has seen better days! It has a very authentic feel, it is cramped and none of us have any idea of where anything is located – so we are running around like lost school children.

It’s all about timing and consistency in Level III – dishes must be presented at a specific time and the pace is rigorous. Everyone was working in their own little bubble – the kitchen was humming along. I don’t think anyone plated on time – we were all pretty late and Chef expected this to happen since the recipes are quite involved and it was our first night.

We were quite stressed out – it was almost as if we never cooked before in our lives and the recipes were written in some foreign language. Michele and I worked hard to get everything plated – we ran into some road blocks, when we put our choux in the convection oven it was set to a cool-down mode so they never fully baked. Luckily we had extra dough left over and started again. The Crème Chantilly was prepared and the Sauce au Chocolat was ready. We piped our choux and plated them for Chef to review.

It was a tough night and I felt beaten down by the clock. I was really worn out by the end of the evening and commiserated with Marcela who felt the same way. In Level III we rotate to a different station every two classes. I can only hope I will get faster and more confident in the dishes we are required to make since they will be on my mid-term exam. At almost 11:00 pm I was applying the apricot glaze to my apple tart and at the same time my eyes were glazing over.

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