Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Day 26 – Testing Day One Complete!

Well tonight was the first night of testing. We first gathered in the main dining hall to take our written test. This is all done via short answer, there is no multiple choice. The part that was confusing was there were some questions that I do not recall ever discussing or techniques that were even used in class. But I did my best and hopefully it was enough. I feel I did pretty well. Not great but I know I passed the written portion.

Then it was off to the kitchen to begin our cooking portion. Tonight we prepared Pommes Anna, Pommes Dauphinoise, Pommes Roesti, Mashed Potatoes, Chicken Consommé’ and Glazed Carrots. I think everything came out very well.

The mood in the kitchen was very tense. No talking or bantering. All you could hear were whisks, spoons, knife chops and the occasional clearing of a throat.

I prepared my Consommé’ first since it would take an hour and a half to cook once it started simmering. And since all the ingredients have to go in cold that would take a while. Once I had that going I got my potatoes boiling for my mashed potatoes. While they were cooking I was slicing up the potatoes for the Anna and Dauphinoise. Arrange those get them in the oven and the boiled potatoes are coming off. Mix, plate and present. Off to check the two dishes in the oven. They’re coming along nicely. Let’s parboil the potato for the Roesti. While that is starting its process I grab all my dirty dishes and head to the sink. Cleanliness is a must! Come back and my potato is just about ready. Dauphinoise comes out to rest for a bit, Anna will come in 10 minutes just enough time to serve the other first. Peel carrots and cut oblique. Slice and present Dauphinoise, take Anna out to rest. Shred the parboiled potato and add all ingredients and get that on the stove to brown and flip (yeah it didn’t land on the floor!!) and into the oven to finish. Get the carrots cooking, present the Anna. Clean up. Check Roesti, flip carrots, add sugar get to thickening, watch Consomme’ to make sure it’s doing ok. Carrots are done, present, take Roesti out and let set. Clean up. Ok time for the Consomme’. Strain it, again, yet again. No not enough strain it once more. Add salt, strain it, stir a bit, strain it. Oh for the love of Pete Would You Please Be Strained Enough Already!!!!!!! If you’re wondering why all the straining it’s because a consomme’ must be fat free, very clear and flavorful broth. I strained mine 7 times. Time to present.

The worst part about all the presenting is this time we get no feedback from the Chefs. We’re to place the dishes at the end of our station and call out to Chef we’re ready to present and then go back to cooking.

All my dishes are done, time for the big clean up, wipe down my station and even did a few extra dishes. A few other students had finished theirs and went home. I go to Chef and tell her my dishes are complete and my station is clean may I go? “Would you mind straightening up the Chef station a bit please?” Now I know I just blinked at her like “Whaaa?” and then said, with a smile, “Of course.” I got done wiping down their area, putting away all the papers, bags of plastic forks and spoons and other misc., items. I went back over to here and told I was finished. She looks over at the dish station at the other side of the room (not the station I was at) and asks me to start on dishes. EXCUSE ME?!?! I’m sorry this is where I lost it. I did my dishes. I cleaned my station, and theirs. The other students got to leave why didn’t she ask them to do dishes??! So I asked “You want to me to do all their dishes? Isn’t that part of the exam? Cook and clean?” She said yes it was but it had to get done. I’m not one to argue with people of authority. I believe in respect (and she has earned it) but dammit this was over the top even for me. So I went over clearly unhappy about the entire situation.

After all was done (11:15pm!! And I was done at 9:30 with all my stuff) Chef said “I’m going to fix this tomorrow” I pop off with “How? It’s been going on for 6 weeks! A group of us get stuck doing all the work while the others skate!” Another student said “Chef this has been going for far too long and we feel like we’re the ones being punished not them. They just ditch and go with no consequences.” Needless to say I still had some residual anger. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow. What may happen is those that stayed will get to leave and those that left early will have to stay. The part that is even more unfair is that we had 6 dishes and tomorrow we basically have 2. So the dish level will not even remotely compare. But we shall see what we shall see.

As I understand it our next session (PCA-2) has twice as many dishes as our current class. I cannot fathom why it is so hard for people to clean up after themselves and how will it be resolved for the next class.

That’s where a lot of anger in this class stems. We’ve been with each other 6 weeks now. We know who the slackers are, Chef knows as well and yet we continually carry that dead weight around and we’re all frustrated and vent, but get no results. So we continue to stew. I sincerely hope that in our next session this is addressed early and rectified.

One testing day down - 4 to Go


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