We have moved into the banquet portion of modern banquets. As a result, the format of the class has changed somewhat. The old itinerary was prep, service and then family meal and lecture. Now with the new changes the class switches and we have our lecture around 7.00am and then family meal at 10.00am. What this does is give us more time to break down and clean up after we do buffet service at lunch. We also do not need as much time because we are not cooking items to order but rather for an entire buffet.
Now that we have all this extra time after we complete service, Chef has us practice our knife skills with the use of some friendly competition. Each student is given one onion and then is asked to mince it. Now mincing is something we do each day at this school so you would assume everyone would be pretty proficient at it. When we first began this knife skills race I did just as poorly as everyone else.
Chef’s definition for mince is small inconsistent shaped cuts that are snowflake sized. Now the procedure for mincing and onion is the same procedure we use for mincing shallots. The only difference is that the food item we are cutting is larger.
The first day myself and a classmate of mine, Josh, were picked as finalist. The knife skills race works like this: the preliminary round consists of the whole class and then chef picks the best two people to face off in a final round. The only downside is that chef has the students switch knives. Neither Josh nor I did well with this change. Chef made only one comment, “A champion can win on anyone’s grass.” I will be writing a post about this sometime in the near future. It was considered a loss for both of us.
The next two days of this competition were taken by two other classmates of mine, Austin and Jason. Both Austin and Jason have one win under their belt. Friday Chef chose Jason as the winner based more on a technicality and today Austin won based on performance.
I spoke to chef briefly today and asked him what his grading criteria were. The only two things he is checking for is good size and speed. This is something that anyone in our class can win. I feel that these competitions is one of the finest ways to have students practice their skills. As chef says “There can only be one (winner)” of the great knife skills race.