Holy moley! I just checked my stats and it’s been way too long since I have posted an update! Times flies when you’re having fun, I suppose!
Anyway, a lot has been going on at school, and it’s been a lot of fun. This upcoming Monday will mark the start of the 6th week for me, which I can hardly believe. After that, I will be moving on to Foundations II, and I will be actually getting some hands-on time with food, aside from cutting vegetables. I have been dutifully busting my butt though, learning as much as I can from the chef’s demos and all the reading I have to do.
It’s been awhile since my last post, so I can’t exactly catch you up on everything we’ve done since then, but I can talk about the recent past. Most recently, we have been educated on the seven classic French cooking techniques, and we witnessed a demo of each technique in use. So in no particular order, the following dishes were bestowed upon me for tasting (keep in mind that this is at around 8:30am): Grilled salmon with lemon-butter sauce (buerre blanc), Sauteed pork chops with sauce and mashed potatoes, poached white asparagus with hollandaise sauce, deep fried shrimp with remoulade sauce, pan-roasted chicken breast, braised lamb stew, braised veal stew (both served on the same day, demonstrating different braising techniques), and oven-roasted hen. Needless to say, there have been some fantastic mornings 🙂 Now obviously, these were all just tastings, so it’s not like I ate a whole pork chop at 9 in the morning, but it is still quite weird to be eating such foods so early.
We also did a few days worth of lecture and demo on sauces. Covering, of course, the classic French mother sauces and several of their derivatives. And just yesterday, we started talking about soups and the different kinds you can have. And naturally, today, some were demo’d. As many of my friends know, I had the privelage of dining on some amazing lobster bisque and some potato and leek soups this morning. What’s more amazing is that the bisque had this really rich, lobstery flavor, but had only been cooking for about an hour. I could only imagine how rich it would taste if allowed to simmer for 3 or 4 more hours.
A little side note about how LCB does the food thing I think is in order here. Since the classes are structured very rigidly, the chefs know ahead of time what they are going to need for the next day. They place an order with the school’s pantry with everything they are going to need for each of their classes, and in the morning, all of that food is waiting for them on a roll-away cart. A lot of this stuff is pretty impressive, and I’m really going to see the quality when I move on into Foundations II and especially in III where I’ll be cooking for about 2+ hours a day. Anyway, the quality is amazing, and when the chef ordered our salmon for grilling day, I expected that we would get salmon steaks. Nope. We got a whole fish. Luckily, it was already dead, but I did get a front row “seat” to watch the chef behead the fish, cut the fins off, clean the guts and slice into steaks. It certainly was very fresh! It was also unnerving since while he was doing all this, I felt like that fish was staring at me, and I did not like that one darn bit. The next part I am about to touch on actually disturbed me a little bit, and I would advise that you have feelings for sea-cockroaches, then skip the next few sentences. So today, for the bisque, we got live lobsters in. In my opinion, there are 2 main schools of thought for killing lobsters prior to cooking. The first would be to firmly and quickly drive the point of the knife through the head of the bug and bring down quickly, chopping in half, killing instantly. The other would be throwing it in a pot of boiling water, or steaming it to kill it. The chef didn’t do either of these. And my guess is, he does things a little differently because he’s a certified master chef, and he can. *You have been warned* First, he skewered the tail to keep it straight during the cooking process. Keep in mind, that this was the first step he took. The creature is still alive. Then he ripped the tail off. Just like that. With the bug still showing signs of life, he then ripped off each claw, one by one…and THEN chopped the head in half. Most of us in the class were in shock. And what I can’t understand is why he didn’t just kill it first. I mean, I know we’re about to eat it, and it’s getting cooked, but it just didn’t seem right. It’s like he did things in the exact opposite order than I would have done it. It was pretty unnerving, but it tasted really good 🙂 *Welcome back to the party!*
So I fully expect next week to be completely insane. It’s essentially finals week. I know I’ve got a knife cut exam, where I’ll need to perform 5 or 6 precision cuts in a very limited amount of time in a high degree of accuracy. Another day is a mayonnaise exam where I’ll be making a batch of fresh maynnaise from memory (This hurts everyone’s arm so much because it’s basically about 5-7 minutes of straight, nonstop whisking). And then we also have a product ID test, where we will be shown varying herbs and vegetables and asked to accurately ID them. Not too worried about that one since I know a lot of the produce, it’s just some of the herbs that get me caught up a little.
And that’s basically it. I think I am adapting to the lack of sleep I am getting… but I am waking up every morning and absolutely loving what I am learning, so I know it is worth it every day. I know that sounds super corny, but it’s true. And even though I’m not actually cooking anything in school right now, when I cook at home, I feel more compelled to add more layers of flavor, or take something simple to the next level. So far, my wife hasn’t complained 🙂
Until next time, gals and guys…and I surely hope I don’t let it go this long again! And please, if you notice that I am not posting, but you want me to cover a specific topic, leave a comment. I get those emailed to me, so I will know you left a comment and I can address it. Think of it like a voicemail system of sorts, where it can stimulate me to write a post and possibly answer some other people’s questions that are reading these ramblings of mine.Stay positive, love your life and play with your food 🙂