Thursday, August 28, 2008

Made to Order

My nerves are easing off as I enter the restaurant’s kitchen for the second day. The Entremetier station is not the busiest station but allows for student creativity since there’s no set menu. We are working with a new Chef for this Level, a very likeable, straight-forward kind of guy who wears his passion for food on his sleeve. In the kitchen brigade, Chef Phil will oversee the Entremetier, Saucier, and Poissonnier stations to ensure orders and dishes are complete and executed properly.

Chef Phil mentioned his desire to make a risotto with artichokes, parmesan, fresh herbs and a garnish of thinly sliced fried garlic and artichokes. I love a good risotto so I was happy to oblige and started working on the preparation. I’ve made risotto in the past and love its creamy consistency and ability to complement a vast array of flavors. However, I’ve never made risotto that wasn’t served as soon as it was ready so learning how to make this dish in advance was something I was eager to learn.

Chef Phil asked me to make a basic risotto and I started with diced onions, shallots, garlic and lots of butter to sauté the ingredients. I had white wine and vegetable stock on hand to ladle into the Arborio rice once I was ready to incorporate liquids to the starchy grain. My instructions were to cook the risotto 80 percent of the way and then stop the cooking process and allow the risotto to cool on a sheet pan fitted with parchment paper. Once orders came in I finalized the cooking process by adding vegetable stock, cooked artichokes, fresh herbs, cheese, salt and pepper and then topped with the garnish. With each dish being cooked to order, I enjoyed standing at the stove and knocking them out as needed.

Our other dish for the evening was an heirloom tomato salad with gorgeous yellow tomatoes with sweet cherry tomatoes and a lemon vinaigrette, fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese, frisée greens and a drizzle of balsamic reduction to bring it all together. The salad was visually beautiful with bright and contrasting colors. I’m a perfectionist at heart and want every dish to look its absolute best and taste even more extraordinary than expected. I know I’m a bit of a control freak when it comes to food…I just can’t help it and I’m not going to change.

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