Thursday, July 17, 2008

Feeding the Masses

The big night, our first buffet! We all got to the kitchen a little earlier than usual to make sure we met the 8:30 pm deadline. Chef instructed us on some dishes and made each of us responsible for many different items.

I immediately got to work on my pork loin’s stuffing. I mixed pork forcemeat, sweetbreads, apricots, dried plums, golden raisins and spices. The pork loin was sliced into one flat piece of meat, I rolled the stuffing in the middle, tied it off and tackled the pork roast by making a dry-rub that Chef suggested – it consisted of juniper berries, black pepper, all spice, coriander and salt. The aromatic dry-rub perfumed the kitchen mingling with the aromas of bubbling pots of veal stock, and oven-roasted meat.

Once I got the two pork mains into the oven, we seared the meat on a high temperature for about 20 minutes then dropped the oven down to 350 degrees. Since I had leftover stuffing mixture, Chef decided that I would make stuffed red peppers. I doctored the stuffing with some eggs to bind it, breadcrumbs and rice.

My fellow kitchen mates worked on salmon in puff pastry, a delicious rice salad, the Arancini was deep-fried, Marcella made a Tres Leches cake that everybody raved about and were sad when it ran out. It really was delicious and I can still taste its creamy texture and custard-like consistency. We had quail to sear and roast, polenta to cut and sauté to a golden brown, avocado salad, cucumber salad with a yogurt-dill dressing, roasted beat salad, two potato gratins to re-heat, roast veal to braise, fruit salad in carved watermelon baskets, pâté and rillette to slice and plate on large silver platters, a ham glazing in the oven – a lot of food to produce, complete, platter and present.

We worked so hard to get everything done and right about 8:15 pm we were pushing out trays of food to be set up. It really was an exciting rush to get it all done and the response was great. The quail, roast pork chops, Tres Leches cake and pork roast were attacked by the hungry mob of students, Chefs and kitchen staff. I hung around the table explaining to the diners how dishes were made and flavored.

At the end of the night, we cleaned the disaster we made in the kitchen, bowls, pots, sauté pans, sheet pans were everywhere! Lastly, we sat down and started to finalize our plan of action for next week’s buffet. We have a Latin theme and lots of tasty surprises in store, save your appetite, there’s more to come.

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