Thursday, August 27, 2009

Eight weeks down!

WooHoo!!! We've made a lot of sauces and soups this week. Today we had tests--both written and practical. I got 81% on the written. I should have done better but I was having a very hard time with focus. It's been an extremely stressful week outside of school and I'm over-tired and grouchy and my tummy hurts. For the practical exam we made Sauce Robert (I forgot the whole-grain mustard that our chef instructor added to the recipe), Sauce Mornay (Chef said it would be great if not quite so thick--it was approaching the dreaded "g"-word [gravy]), Buerre Blanc (awesome), and Corn Chowder (I got it just a little thin but it tasted great). I'm learning to pace myself while cooking in class. The first two days that we cooked in F2 I got done very quickly and spent most of the morning confiscating every dirty dish left unattended and trying to look busy. Then I still tried to do too much at a time and got a little mixed up. Today I got my mis en place ready for everything but then cooked one thing at a time and took it to Chef to be graded. I had plenty of time left when I was done and was far from the last one done. I felt calmer and my food was much better. The hardest part was saving gruyere for the Sauce Mornay. I love that stuff! We will be making four or five recipes every day now. I just want to get them right!

I have only one complaint about school. Everyone is nice and helpful and I'm learning a lot. The school is brand-new and looks it. All of the equipment is new and clean and we leave it spotless after each class so I guess it will stay that way. My one problem is that--and I've whined about it enough to know that I'm not the only one--we were told that we could take the food that we cook home with us. That was a small factor is my decision to attend. It's expensive and I'm broke but knowing that dinner four days a week for a couple of months was made already helped me to justify it. I also do mostly a raw diet and Julianne does not so she was very excited about this. Plus, I'm unemployed and grocery money is not plentiful. I struggle to have good food around. It wasn't the biggest factor, but it was a factor. Now we are told that we cannot take food home. First we heard that it was because of the expense of go containers but then because of the cost of the food and folks making too much just to take home. We make a lot of food at school! There are five classes--F1, F2, F3, Baking & Patisserie, and Cuisine Across Cultures (or something like that). Each of them has three classes a day and each of those classes has 20-something people in it. F1 doesn't cook much. They do a lot of knife cuts and they use the scraps from those to make stock and they do some mother sauces but F2 & F3 make four-five recipes each day. Cuisine Across Cultures won't have anyone in it for four more weeks and I don't know what they will be making. It's set up like a restaurant so maybe food will be cooked to order. The past two days in F2 we each made three kinds of soup each day--a saucepan full of each--and we made one today for our test. After Chef took a bite to taste the whole rest of the pan was tossed. We're allowed to eat it but we have to clean so there isn't much time. You have to scarf it. Maybe I'm being petty but I'm greatly irritated. I think that they need to have a talk with the admissions reps. but that the people who are already in school and were told that they could take food home before they signed anything or paid any money should be allowed to take it. I can't tell you how sick I felt today throwing away at least four good-sized servings of very good chowder. It's fresh and hot and tasty and I had to dump it in the trash. Of course then I go home and I'm hungry and looking for something for lunch and all I can think about is the soup I wasted. I'm pissed. I understand that the Chicago school donates to a homeless shelter. I would feel better about that but not happy. The office folks get fed. That's still not right to me. I don't mind sharing but it's a lot of work to get to take just a few rushed bites yourself. So that's my soapbox. Thanks for letting me vent!

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