Ooh la la! This is exactly my chef's knife!
End of week one!
I'm still figuring out how to best get organised in the morning.
You see there's a little tiny locker room the size of a handicapped bathroom stall in the school. It's lined with about 30 lockers, and each locker has an owner. We have to get in there, get into our lockers, get our toolbox of kitchen supplies plus a binder and notebook and get changed into our uniforms ASAP. Twenty-five ladies doing this all at once? Nightmare.
The school opens at 8am on-the-dot. In fact there's usually a line-up outside the door at 10 to 8 of people waiting to get going. Class starts at 8:30 on-the-dot. It's not pretty!
So I have been experimenting with strategies.
1. Wear the pants to school and only change into the top, apron, tie and other bits in the changeroom.
2. Wear the whole uniform to school, (minus the apron and other bits), feel like a dork on the bus and try to keep your name covered, (it's stitched right into the uniform). Or like this morning, the crazy man in the seat across from you will repeat your name over and over pronouncing it incorrectly. Creeeepy.
3. Wear the pants to school, and when no one is looking steal away to the bathroom, which is empty, and change there. (Shhh! It's our little secret!) Unless the bathroom is occupied, then you're back to strategy 1.
The uniform is complex, there are bits an pieces all over you and they make you all puffy, like the Michelin Man. (These layers are for protection, in case something spills or splatters.)
Today I was out on the floor early, and it's a good thing because at 8:15 Chef C started giving directions to get a remouillage, (bones reused for stock a second time) going in a pot and get a mirepoix (onions, celery and carrot) sautéing in a pan.
And we were off!
Another satisfying day. By the end of the day we had made -
1. a consummé
2. a minestrone
3. French onion soup
4. corn chowder
The consommé was the most amazing.
Our veal stock was a cloudy brown colour to begin. We mixed, (ready?) ground beef, cracked black pepper, minced tomatoes, celery, carrots and onions, some thyme bay leaf and parsley stems together with beaten egg whites(!). I squished it together with my hands and then poured the whole mess into my stock and let it simmer, (not boil!) and the meat formed what they call a "raft" on top, which is exactly what that is - a floating meat raft. It pulled all the impurities out of the stock and left behind the clearest, (and I mean really clear), consommé.
I'm sure experienced chefs would think, "Yeah so what?" but to me that was magic.
In between all these soups were excellent demos given by our excellent instructors - one is French, the other Italian. They're colourful and entertaining, and obviously love teaching. They provide us with such gems like, "It's like God, wearing velvet underpants, sliding down your throat." (Chef C describing a good cream soup), and "I love full-fat milk. Skim milk is a big evil money-making conspiracy. I saw my wife bringing skim milk into the house - I put my foot down. We compromised at 2%. I only get 2 "nos" a year and that was one of them." (Chef T)
They didn't leave us to relax over the weekend though, math homework with recipe conversions, a big week-one review and I need to work on my knife cuts and produce perfect 6mm and 2mm square cubes of veg and present two 1/4 cup samples on Monday.
And I have to make consommé. Again.