Tuesday, August 26, 2008

At Last,...L'Ecole!

At last, working in FCI's restaurant - nervous trepidation sets in...I start in Entremetier (French name for vegetable station) with my group of two other students - both solid team players. Our role in the kitchen is to provide vegetarian selections in place of the fish and meat course. That night we made a roasted vegetable plate with frisee salad dressed with a lemon vinaigrette to replace the fish course and a roasted red and yellow beet phyllo napoleon with a goat cheese filling and balsamic reduction for the meat course. Both very simple and pretty dishes that were composed to order. Our first night was slow with only about 50 covers and about 8 vegetarian dishes were plated.

In L'Ecole, Level V and VI students run the show and do all the cooking while the Chef-Instructors guide us. The Chef expediting the orders is Chef Marc from our Level I and II days - we've come full circle it seems - he's introduced us to the kitchen and now he is watching us execute some complicated dishes for the restaurant.

When orders come in, Chef Marc belts out whatever he needs like 4 canapes, 2 scallop, 1 rabbit and 1 lamb medium. The order is written on a dry-erase board and the teams start to get things together at their stations. Once the canapes go out, then appetizer, fish, meat and dessert follow. Careful timing is necessary to ensure all main entrees are produced and plated at the same time. When Chef calls the order a second time, he shouts, "Firing, 1 rabbit, 1 lamb, etc." which means you have about 5 - 8 minutes to get the finished plate out the dispatch table for the server.

Each night the Entremetier station produces two new dishes to keep the students on their toes and engaged. We are encouraged to bring ideas and recipes to the kitchen to try them out in the restaurant. In a way I'm feeling a sense of accomplishment as I begin my new level and in the same vein there's a sense that I'm starting all over but we a tougher audience - one that pays for the food I am preparing.

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