Today I completed my second day of Modern Banquets Cookery. The class has been pretty simple but my performance has been suffering. I will get into the reason behind that some other time. While prepping bok choi for service today I overheard the brief conversation that really helped lighten my mood.
A student went up to the chef and asked whether we had a first aid kit. The chef responded with yes and then followed up with “Why, what did you do to yourself.” The student responded quite simply and to me it made perfect sense: “I cut my self on a piece of plastic hanging off of the salad spinner.” Now to the chef this was hilarious. “What?” he asked, “How did you cut yourself on the salad spinner?” At this point the entire kitchen was aware of what was going on. “I could understand that you might cut yourself on a knife or something sharp, but the salad spinner?” At this point most people had pulled away from their assigned task and began to drop eaves on the situation. The student struggled to explain that he had not actually cut himself on the flat plastic, but rather a piece that was hanging off. The chef was in such shock that he was still hung up on getting cut on the spinner. This exchange went back and forth about one minute. “We never bled in front of a chef, when I was a student if we got cut, we would will the blood to stop.” This was Chef’s closer and the student walked away, somewhat embarrassed.
I really do enjoy the chefs at this school. I have never found one to be to aggressive or harsh. In fact I feel like I would enjoy working with some of the more cruel chef’s at this school. Today I must have heard the salad spinner reference from chef at least 5 more times. I have heard so many horror stories about chefs when they first began teaching at this school. Two of the chefs that I had were known as some of the toughest chefs in the school. I really feel like I might have missed out on a few things because the chefs have a limited spectrum of behavior that they must teach with.
Modern Banquets class has been good otherwise. The information is more cooking based rather than technique based. Each day that we come in, it is treated more like a real kitchen. We have no real technical instruction. We are expected to know the material and be able to competently cook. The chef is there to instruct us with different methods to use when cooking on scale larger than a la carte. He also is there to make sure that we don’t burn down the school.
So far I have had one major mistake. Day one when we made rice pilaf myself and my teammate neglected to follow the proper ratio for making the dish. After clarifying with the chef that the ratio I had for pilaf was correct, I began to make the rice according to his ratio. About 45 minutes later, double the normal cooking time of pilaf, my team removed from the oven, a mass of starchy goo that looked no more appetizing than the white rice that you see at the end of Chinese buffets. We had to redo the rice and as a result lost a portion of our grade. When we made our rice the second time, I made sure to use my ratio, the one I was taught in Fundamentals. It turned out perfect. Because of the rice fiasco our group did not finish on time and lost more points. I have been keeping a record of all of the mistakes I have made in the kitchen and so far it is quite impressive. This rice issue wasn’t really my fault. I guess I should have followed my intuition. Stay posted.