Friday, January 19, 2007

Day 8 and 9 of APCA – The Entrees Delight!

Well Day 8 marked a lot of prepping and we took our written test. We will be serving 4 entrees and one dessert. Our menu will be as follows –

Duck Confit Ravioli with Sautéed Arugula, Caramelized Cipollini Onions and Parsley Pesto

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Duck Confit, Braised Arugula and a Light Duck Broth

Cedar Planked Salmon with Creamy White Rose Potatoes and Fennel Confit and Emulsion

Roasted Salmon with Green Curry Foam and Sautéed Kabocha Squash

Strawberry Semifreddo

My group was Dwayne and Gabby and we were in charge of the roasted salmon. The down side was the green curry foam. The classes before us used all the curry paste so I had to make a batch from scratch. Ever do this? Well you don’t want to, it’s long and tedious, although you can control the heat much easier. It entails chopping up galangal (which is a lot like ginger), a lot of garlic, cilantro, Thai chilies, lemon grass, lime zest, toasted coriander seeds and cumin seeds then ground to a powder, Kaffir lime leaves and a lot of shallots. All of this is done on a mince and then it’s put into a robo coup (industrial food processor) where it’s pasted. Well to a certain point. Then you have to take it out and put it into a mortar a pestle and pounded even further. My arm got a work out. Gabby got on the fish, although we had decided she would to the squash, Dwayne just seems to do his own thing no matter how many times you tell him to something else (see day 9). I was very impressed with Gabby, she really stepped up. She got the fish all prepped – skinned and deboned, and sliced into 3 oz portions. I even had time to get the curry sauce made which is coconut milk, lime juice and curry paste heated up to just incorporate the flavors. Then it’s removed from the stove and cream is added, you adjust your curry to make it hotter if you like and then strain it off.

Dwayne, as I mentioned, decided to do the squash. Now I don’t know how many of you know what a Kabocha squash is, but it’s about the size of a honeydew melon and has a tough blue-ish green skin on it. So he has to skin it, clean it and dice it to medium. This is where the frustration sets in. I know he wants to do it, but when it takes him the same time it takes me to do the curry paste to clean 1 squash, well something has to be done. Gabby got her fish finished and started helping him and I can see him getting frustrated because he wants to do this on his own like we did our stuff. But the team will suffer for it and I really don’t want to be here all night waiting for him to do the squash. Gabby was really good with him and got him chatting which he seems very happy to do. Ok squash is all cleaned and needs to be cooked off. Great…he left the pans on the stove with the burners on so these babies are HOT! I told him “Don’t put the squash in those pans till they come down a bit in temperature or the squash will burn….” And off they go into the pan anyways. Yep they burned. We had to pick out all the burned pieces.

Everyone is finished and kitchen is clean. Tomorrow we serve. Our kitchen seems so much calmer and organized now that it ever did. I am very pleased!

Day 9 brings us our service day. We are all so prepared we ask Chef if we can serve at 7:30 instead of 8:30. She said if you are all ready go for it!

WooHoo!! We get our station set up. It’s decided that Dwayne will heat the squash, Gabby will cook off the fish. I’ll do the curry foam and plate. Here is how it’s suppose to go –

Chef – Order In – 5 Roasted Salmon

Gabby only to call back (this is to avoid confusion) – 5 Roasted Salmon

Me to Gabby – 5 plates out. (I came up with the game plan of when Chef orders in we pull the plates and leave them stacked. When Chef calls for pick up I will pull the plates from the stack out on the line for plating. This way when Chef asks how many we have on deck we just count the pile and ones the laid out)

At this time Gabby is start cooking the fish. I measure out for sauce, but do not heat it yet. I wait for Chef to call for Pick up. When Chef says Pick up Dwayne is to start heating the squash, I start on the foam.

Chef – Pick up 5 Roasted Salmon

Me to call back– Pick up 5 Roasted Salmon

Ok now in 2 minutes we should be plating 5 salmon, garnishing, and wiping them down.

But what really happened was –

Chef – Order In – 5 Roasted Salmon

Gabby and Dwayne – 5 Roasted Salmon

Gabby starts her fish, I get my sauce ready and Dwayne is cooking his squash. “Dwayne remember you don’t start cooking until Chef calls for pick up. Otherwise those are going to get way over-done.” He says Ok...but doesn’t turn the flame down and keeps on cooking.

Chef – Pick up 5 Roasted Salmon

Me and Dwayne – Pick up 5 Roasted Salmon

I take the plates and line them up. I know I have about 3 minutes before she wants them up. I start the curry sauce heating up slowly. Dwayne is putting the squash on the plates. “Um…Dwayne? The fish is still cooking and we’re not ready to plate yet. These will get cold sitting on the plates.” At this moment Chef walks over and tells Dwayne “Dwayne when you plate the squash I want it higher on the plate. Not in the very center. Understand?” He responds with yes he does. She also tells him “Don’t start cooking till I call order in got it?” He says Yes Chef understood. Ok...good.

Next time she calls in it’s the same thing. *sigh* She tells him again to put the squash higher on the plate or closer to the edge. He says ok. But again on the next set he does the same thing. Gabby and I are beside ourselves with frustration. At this point Chef says Ok have him put the squash on but don’t do anything else with the plate. I want to inspect at each stage. Yes Chef. So we have 7 plates for pick up now, all with squash in the center of the plate. Chef tells him to fix it. He uses his fingers to push the squash up the plate. Chef tells him no, take it off, rinse the plate and redo it as it leaves a big oily smear that will take too much critical time for the plater to wipe off. I’m not sure if the message ever got through to him.

All in all tonight’s service was one of the smoothest ones yet. We even gave ourselves a round of applause. I hope that each we time we do this we just get better and better.

Now tomorrow night will be interesting. We doing a lot of discussion on what we want on our tasting menu. Bring your popcorn this is going to be a good round of fun!

Until Tomorrow!...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Day 6 and 7 of APCA

Well on Day 6 we prepped for Day 7 which is service. We did a 4 course service –

Chilled Pea Soup with Pearl Onion Tartlets

Seared Foie Gras (Duck Liver) with Vanilla Confiture of Pears, Grilled Brioche, Forelle Pear Chips with a Banyuls Vinegar reduction

Pan-Roasted Squab (lol pigeon. I think it’s so funny that when it poops on your car it’s a pigeon but when you cook it up and eat it, it’s a squab) with Glazed Cherry Gastrique and Squab Demi-Glace with Grilled Mushrooms and Wild Rice

Profiteroles plate with Chocolate Ice Cream and Hazelnut Mousse, Chocolate Sauce, Jimica Reduction Sauce and Strawberry Glaze

Pumpkin Tiramisu

So the Chef gives our lecture of what is what, history on some of the items, techniques to be used….and then the confusion.

Chef – Does anyone know if yams are smooth or chunky?

Dead Quite

Chef – Anyone at all?

Me – Well doesn’t depend on how you’re using them?

Chef – Well yes, but most of the time yams are smooth.

At this point everyone is reading their recipes because we didn’t see yams in any of them and we all figure she’s going to start giving us a new recipe to add to our service. She does this a lot so we were prepared. Paper was out pens were poised…and then…

Chef – A good way to remember, Yams are smooth and Marmalades are chunky.

That gave us pause….DING!!! Chef do you means Jams?

Chef – Yes

Oh good lord. Now that, that mystery is solved. Everyone in their books wrote down “Yams should be smooth”.

My task for this meal was the Tiramisu. But I had no team. It was just me. Great, one of the weakest bakers in the class and I’m soloing dessert. This should be entertaining. I ask her if she wants me to do a double batch since the recipe makes enough for a serving of about 15. She said “Yes make 2”. Ok I’m on it. Um... “where are the lady fingers at?” I have to what?!?! Ok…breathing…I have to make the lady fingers. Sure that’s something I do a lot of in my spare time. If you’ve never made these..don’t!! Go to Trader Joes or whatever local store you have and BUY THEM! Let me give a glimpse. In one mixer you have 12 egg yolks and some sugar and whipping till ribbons form. Next in another mixer you have 12 egg white whipping to frothy and adding a lot of corn starch and a bit more sugar. Then you get to put these 2 things into a big bowl and fold them together. Not too much..because you still have to fold in your flour. Ok now don’t do what I did. My first tray I actually piped them out into ‘fingers’ and let them bake. They got beautiful color but dried out why too much. Clean my station so I can start on the pumpkin filling. Chef has arrived – “Where is the other batch?” Oh I was able to put both batches into the same mixer Chef. “No the other batch.” That was 2 batches. I made a double and combined them. “I said do 2”. Now at this moment I must have that look of “Are you nuts?!” on my face because I just wasn’t getting it. I did do 2 batches. So seems we have a bit of a communication problem. Seems when she said 2 she meant 2 double batches. DOH!

So I had to go back and get the mixers and start everything again. This threw a major wrench in my timing. I have to get these baked off and cooled so I have the tiramisu assembled and chilled for tomorrow. And I still have to bake Amaretti Cookie topping. But now I’m so far behind that will have to wait till tomorrow. It’s on to assembling the desserts. I have to give a major shout out to Lynndy and Carey who stepped in and helped me by doing my dishes for me. That small gesture helped so very much. Thank you guys!!!!

The night is over, 3 tiramisu’s in the walk-in ready for service.

Day 7 brings us our day of service. We have Andy, Edgar and Gabby on the entrée station. Carey and Johnny on Foie Gras, Lynndy and Eddie on Pea Soup, Janette and Dwayne on profiteroles. Chef will call Order In for each dish. Here’s where I get totally confused. She will ‘order in’ the entrée, then in about 5-8 minutes do a ‘pick-up’ of said item. However for the Foie gras, soup and desserts she will just do an order in and want them plated immediately. Then there’s ‘On Deck’ issue. She only does this with the entrée item and will ask “How many on deck?” Now we didn’t cover this during the ‘briefing’ so we are all clueless. She then explains that on deck means how many do they have total. Total being all those on order and all those on pick-up. Well they weren’t organized to count them out. Not because of lack of trying but because they didn’t know she was going to ask total counts. Took about 15-20 minutes to get that ironed out. The other stations seemed to run very smoothly. Even me. I was so nervous but all went very well. The profiteroles had a couple of snags. I don’t think the two of them were communicating as much so I stepped in to help out where they needed me. I think everyone needs to work on communication. Each cook on the line needs to talk to the ones next to them etc.

I was very happy with the nights service. I believe the food was outstanding and reviews from those enjoying the cuisine said it was great. Can’t argue with happy customers.

Tomorrow we being prepping for yet another night of service. Looks like we’ll be having 4 entrees and 1 dessert. This should be interesting!

Until Then!...

Monday, January 15, 2007

Day 4 of APCA – The Volcano Erupts!

Well today we prepped for Fridays service. Our menu for Friday will be –

Duck Salad with Fig, Honey, Mizuna, Kumquats and Gorgonzola

Baked Herbed Goat Cheese Salad with Arugula

Braised Pork Cheeks/Shanks with Gremolada, Risottoa alla Milanese and Sautéed Broccoli Raab

Italian Rice Balls

Apple Tarte Tatin with Caramel Sauce with Vanilla Ice Cream

So once again I was on salads. But at least this is a warm salad and we’ll have to cook the duck breasts. My partner this time was my dear one Eddie. And because we were the lucky winners of doing salads we got the wonderful task of taking down the duck stock.

Everything was going fine until, what will later be referred to as the Red and Andy incident. So Eddie and I finish our stuff and drop the stock. We also had to put up another batch of stock. So we got that going. It was time to start doing a lot of dishes. (Yes I see you nodding…you can see the writing on the wall with this one eh?) So I get one batch done and then go back to the stock to finish some work on it. I turn to look at the dish station to see if anyone is there so I can go get my next batch done. No one there but a crap load of dishes on dropped off. I grit my teeth. I take a few smaller things over because there is no room whatsoever for anything else because of the mound there. And what are they? All the dishes from Andy that he used to make his ice-cream, and sauces and whatever else he had to do. I leave them. Eddie and Edgar are now at the sink doing other dishes and end up doing Andy’s. (Who also dropped off all night on the last prep night and last service night, but I kept my mouth shut) Well no more…Andy comes walking over with yet another load of dishes and drops them off and walks away. Oh hell no!! “Andy!...come here a sec..” He comes walking over and I say “Hey how about saying Thank you to Eddie and Edgar for doing your dishes you keep leaving here?” And here is what follows (Keep in mind he was already in a pouty pissy mood because he was on the dessert station. He hates doing desserts with a passion!) –

Andy – I didn’t ask them too!!!

Me – I didn’t say you did, but you keep leaving them here and everyone has been doing them.

Andy – Well they don’t’ have to! I’m busy and don’t have time right now!

Me (and my voice is going up as he’s walking away) – Well you better make time! Everyone else here has done their dishes and they are just as busy! You haven’t done one dish since this class started and it’s time you act like a man! Your mother doesn’t work here. You have to be accountable and responsible!

Andy – I have caramel sauce on the stove that I have to deal with!

Me – Well take it off the stove and act like a man and do your share. Don’t start one thing if you can’t finish another. If you bring dishes you do dishes. If you can’t do them leave them at your station and bring them when you can. You have so much crap here no one else can do their stuff.

Andy – Leave me alone I don’t have time for this!

Ok well let’s just say what I wanted to do was pull his arse over to the sink by his ear and treat him like the petulant child he was acting. About 30 minutes later Chef asks to speak with me. I’m surprised it took her that long to do it. She asked me what happened and I told her. I also explained we’ve had problems with him a lot in BPT and that Chef True had to speak with him twice for his attitude. I apologized to Chef for the outburst in her class and promised it would never happen again. She said that from this point on she would have him put his dishes in a lexan (big plastic container) and have him take them over all at once and do his own. And that for safety reasons yelling is not permitted as someone might be cooking with something hot or cutting something and get distracted and look away towards the commotion and get hurt. I explained that I to totally understood and again promised it would never happen again.

So another 20 minutes goes by and Andy is doing his typical pouting. The rest of the class is out eating the left overs and he’s in the kitchen thowing things around and acting like he’s the only one cleaning. I’m like ‘whatever dude get over it’. I go up to Chef and tell her “Chef, while I don’t care if Andy hates me or is pouty with me, it’s not fair to the rest of the class. I will go and apologize to him.” She looks at me and says Thank you Red I appreciate that. So off I go to eat crow pie. Andy is in the walk-in and I go in and say “Hey I need to talk to you…I…” but before I can finish he looks at me and says “I don’t have time you. I really don’t want to talk to you at all.” Ok I expected this and continue on “Andy you do have time. I came to apologize to you. I should not have yelled at you and I’m sorry. It was not right to make it public. I should have spoken to you directly or to the chef. I’m sorry..” But again before I can finish he’s still pissy “Who cares, I don’t have time for this. I have more important things do you. I’m disgusted with you.” You could have knocked me over with a feather!! Disgusted? Son I’m 20 years your senior. You can be pissy me with all you like, but when someone comes to apologize to you the least you can be is respectful. Ass. Chef is aware of it and I’m over it. I’ll be cordial and business like with him tomorrow during service.

The other issue I ended up talking to Chef about (well it was going to be me a Lynndy but it ended up being me haha) was our new student has a very bad hygiene problem. He reeks basically. I know that cannot be sanitary. It’s also very hard to work next to him because you can’t breathe. Chef said she’d see what she could do but it’s a very hard subject to broach. Well find a way chef please!!

Tomorrow is service. Should be an interesting night. Until Then!

Day 3 of APCA – First night of Restaurant Service

Well tonight we had our first night of full service. For most of us it was our first time working in what is a restaurant style kitchen. We had a few things to do on our station that we didn’t do last night to ensure freshness. One was to cut the citrus supremes. This where you cut the skin from the oranges, grapefruit etc down to the meat of the fruit. Then you cut in between the layers do give you a slice that no pith or skin on it. Dwayne wanted to do these since it had been a while and he didn’t remember. Ok sounds good. But I can’t get started on the vinaigrette until that is done because I need the left over juice for it. So while he’s doing that I set up our station and get plates ready, spoons and whatever else I think we’ll need. He has one orange done. Time for me to step in. I don’t want to be rude but we have a deadline. I decide to be diplomatic. “Hey Dwayne I know you want to do these, but it’s not fair for you to have to do them all yourself here let me help.” I’m finishing up an orange and he says “Do you want to me to cut the mint?” “Sure! It needs to be chiffonade.” He says ok and starts. Chef calls me over to observe something and when I come back I see the mint in the cup. Chopped up in hunks. Not chiffonade which is very thin strips. I pick up the cup and go to ask chef if we can still use them, because I don’t like to waste food, and she looks it and looks at me and says “No, go do that over you did it wrong.” I smile and say “Well Dwayne did this but I’ll go redo it Chef straight away.” I think she hates me. But that’s ok.

What a night. Chef calls out “10 salads on the fly”. I have no clue what she means, she hasn’t explained the lingo to us. So I call back “10 Salads Chef” and just start making the darn things. Since none of the other students had come in yet I assumed “on the fly” meant get them ready ahead of time. Ok 10 salads are on the line for pick up. The other students start filing in. I look at their faces and their starch white uniform jackets and instantly remember the third day of class when I was in PCA I and came to this same event. Seems like years ago.

But that wonderful dream like euphoria is quickly dashed when the Chef starts with “Order in! 5 pork chops!” “Red – Pick up 5 salads!” Now I’m thinking..sure go ahead…I have 10 up here. Then I pause and rethink this. She knows I have 10 up here. But why wouldn’t she ‘Order-in’ for me. Why pick up? I am clueless so just start making 5 more. Which as soon as I complete she calls it out again. Woman! Just tell me how many you want over all and I’ll make em! I’m so glad I never said that out loud. I really think she would have hurt me if I did. As I said this Chef instructor is a no nonsense instructor.

Plates are going up and out as fast as they were made. I started acting as the front of the house and delivering deserts. My salads were all done and even had a few extra. After I delivered the deserts I came back and checked in with all the stations to make sure no one else needed help or need me to act a runner. I was the only one not busy with a task. Dwayne went over to do dishes. I checked in with the grill station to see if they needed anything. Chef was standing there too and she turned and looked at me and said “no they are fine”….Oooo kkkk. I checked with back prep station, they said they were good. So I went out to the front and started clearing dishes and bringing them back to the wash station. I figured at least I’m not standing around doing nothing. I couldn’t clean much because all the stations were still in use. Chef calls out “Red come back here please” in a tone that was something akin to “do not move or breathe unless I give you permission”…yes Chef. Which puts me at my station standing there. I feel very unproductive, but it’s what she wants. Needless to say I am not feeling any bonding going on. I’m not sure if I’m suppose to, but I always felt at ease with my other instructors.

The night is over and it’s time to start cleaning up. This goes pretty well. Chef calls us over and says “You guy did good.” But in my head I heard “Meh…you did ok.” I’m still more amazed at all of us working together and not killing each other.

Tomorrow we prep for Fridays service. So it will pretty much be, prep/serve and prep/serve. I guess some weeks we’ll have 3 nights of service and others 2 or maybe do a couple of big services that take 2 days prep. Time will tell!

Until Tomorrow!...

Day 2 of APCA – Let us Prep

So I can this class is going to be a whirl wind of activity. Today we prepped out for tomorrow’s first day of service.

Our Menu is as follows –

Roasted Beet Salad with Baby Arugula, Citrus, Mint and Chevre

Grilled Pork Chops with Caraway Braised Cabbage, Yukon Gold Potatoes in Warm Vinaigrette and Onion Marmalade

Chocolate Souffle Cake with Mascarpone Ice Cream

I was on the pantry station so the salad was mine. My teammate was the new guy that just joined us – Dwayne. He’s a very nice guy. A bit slow, but we’ve been updated to his condition. The Chef writes things out on a big white board and the first item was the salad. It read as follows –

Roasted Beet Salad with the red and yellow beets. – Red & Dwayne

Ok pretty explanatory. She did ask if everyone knew was Chevre is. For those that didn’t she explained it was ‘goat cheese’. Everyone nods and makes a note in their book. Ok fine…but then one student raises his hand and has the other hand on his face under his chin looking ever so intent while he asked, “Chef? What’s a Dwayne?” I did the laugh snort thing and turned back to look at him and realized he was serious. So I said “A ‘dwayne’ is the man sitting next to you.” He sort of blinks like I was the one joking now. Then I said “See where it says Red and Dwayne? Well I’m Red and he’s Dwayne so we’ll be doing the salad.” Everyone laughs and the class continues on.

Before we get started our team was also in charge of cooking the pigs head and feet that came over from CCT. (A flash back is go back in the blog to the picture of me holding the pigs head) So I get that started and then we begin prepping out for the rest of salad. Dwayne says he’ll roast the beets. Ok sounds good. I get everything else ready. Once all of our stuff is done I offer to help out at other stations. They’re basically all ready to go I work on getting the kitchen clean. It’s amazing how the class is working together. Before this point all of our dishes were pretty much us doing them ourselves, with the exception of the few times we would work in groups. Now everything we do, we do as a team to bring an entire meal together for the rest of the students.

So far things seem to be very calm and organized. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!

Until Then!...

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Day 1 – APCA – The Tone is Set

Well tonight marked our first night in APCA. Our new Chef instructor is Chef Mena. She comes to us with a lot of experience. Not only has she worked for a renowned chef – Wolfgang Puck, but she also has a lot of catering experience and has taught every phase of class this school has to offer. She seems very strict which I love! She has openly said that if she asks us to do a small dice and she sees a medium dice, she’ll have us start over. Our tests will not be structured but pop quizzes. She feels that by not knowing when our tests will be, it will force us to review everyday, thus keeping the information readily available. I only have one problem with this is I work full time, then the 2 hour commute. The only time I have to review is on the weekends. I’ll have to wait and see how this plays out.

The afternoon class was finishing up their first night of lecture when I arrived. The chef was telling them “It’s amazing how 2 pages in your text book turns into 5 hours of lecture…” We were also told that the first night of class is all lecture no cooking. Yeah well I also believe in always being prepared so I came with all my stuff and gear.

We didn’t get started on our lectures until almost 7pm. The newbies were in the dining hall with us and they had to get their introductions. Now why on earth they couldn’t do it in their labs I have no clue. We had ours in our lab. But because of that our Chef had to wait before she could start on ours. So I’m thinking ok it’s gonna be a long night of lectures…but at 8:45 she told us to start pulling all the leftover items out of the walk-ins and get cooking. Everyone was like “Huh?!” I knew this was a test. She wanted to see several things – Who was working with whom, who did what, creativity etc. We ended up cooking a lot of different things. I got a whole bunch of mushrooms and sautéed them in butter and then added red wine and thyme and reduced them quickly. I must say, yummy. ‘A’ did some steaks, Eddie and Lynndy did pan seared chicken breasts, Wayne (He’s our new guy. He was in class B and decided to move over to our class. Jury is out on him) did eggs with peppers. She didn’t want us all doing the same thing, so I called out I was doing sautéed mushrooms. Sure as anything, 2 didn’t listen and asked me what I was doing. So I told them directly and damn if they still didn’t do another form of sautéed mushrooms. Arg.

I’m happy we got to eat. I was starving! Tomorrow we begin prepping for Pork Chop night. I so remember going to my first Pork Chop night and now here I am preparing for it. The dynamics of our personalities will come out a lot more in this class than any other I believe because we do not do anything individual. Everything we do we do as a team. And some are not team players. Bring it on! Be sure to wear your safety belts kids!

Until Tomorrow!...

Ending Days of BPT

What a ride this has been. The last week of BPT was divided by the week long Christmas break. I personally would have rather pushed through it. To me the momentum was there and it was best to keep it up. It was so hard for me to go home and not have to rush, rush, rush. Then to come back and have it be finals and right back the grind. Very hard.

So the last couple of days we did our plated desserts. This was comprised of ice creams we had made. We had three groups and each group was in charge of an ice cream. And then it was the responsibility of one person on that team to do the ice cream while the others were working on other items. Yes yours truly was in charge of our ice cream, cinnamon ice cream and I was very excited to be making it. I had never used a fancy ice cream maker (chills that stuff down in about 7 minutes). So off I go and I’m cooking the eggs and cream and all the yummy stuff. And BAM out of no where my cream curdles. Son of a B@*$*&! This is a long process and I had to pitch it all, re-gather all the ingredients and start over. And this concoction has to chill completely before it goes into the ice cream machine. DOH! Yes I got it done and it was delish!

We also made 3 sauces to garnish our plates – Raspberry Coulis, Caramel and Crème Anglaise. Added to this was chocolate chip cookies, flourless chocolate cake, nut lace cookies, free-form apple tart, pavlava with fresh berries and tuiles cookies. Everyone had their tasks. I cannot figure out why our chocolate chip cookies looked like round golf balls even after they were baked. If you dropped one, it bounced. I’m not kidding, it bounced! All in all the dessert plates came out pretty nice. It was fun to learn how to plate them and the correct way to serve ice cream on a plate. There is a reason why you have a cookie with it. To put the ice cream on so it doesn’t melt and run all over the plate before it’s served. Who knew!

The next day we got to decorate the cakes we baked on the first day of BPT. Our butter cakes. We made 2 types of frosting, butter cream and shortening cream. The butter cream is mainly used to frost the cake and the shortening one to color and use for decorating. I do not have a flare for this. I don’t eat a lot of cakes and when I do I don’t even frost them. I even have just about every tip you could imagine. Not because I bought them, no, but rather my dear mother-in-law who passed away 4 years ago was an avid cake decorator and my father-in-law graciously gave me all of her equipment. I can only hope that rather than doing the Chef proud I did Marcella proud. My design? A martini glass complete with a green olive. I just did some scalloping around the edges and the base and wrote the word ‘Cheers’ on the top and did some different frosting in different colors to look like confetti. It was pretty cute. I wish I had had my camera with me.

Next day through us straight into finals. For the first day we mainly did prep for presentation the next day. With the exception of the dinner rolls. Those we did and presented the first night. I don’t know what it is. We all make our dough, we all put it into the proofer and mine rises 3 times faster than anyone else. Mine was proofed in 35 minutes and everyone else took about 50 minutes. My rolls were ‘ok’. Not great. I make them at home much better but I don’t use a proofer at home. And, let’s be honest, when it’s finals things sometimes don’t get checked as often as they should because you get so focused on all the different tasks that have to be done. I got everything else done and it’s all packaged up and in the walk-in for assembly the next day.

Last day of finals! We have to assemble our Boston Cream Pie, Lemon Tart and our Crème Brulees. I have to laugh at the Boston Cream. My Ganache, unlike my fellow students decided it didn’t want to pour nicely over the top of the cake, but rather set up as it was pouring. Most of my fellow students ganache didn’t set up at all but ran as the cake was cut. I had the most fun with the Lemon Tart and the meringue. I love piping that stuff out into fun patterns and torching it. I must say it looked rather pretty.

The Crème Brulee I decided to use raw sugar rather than the refined white sugar. I got much better results on the torching and crispy crust. Last but not least we had product identification. I don’t feel real confident about this. And I know the written final there were a few questions that I knew the answers to the minute I handed in the test with the wrong answer. Most finals I feel pretty good over all. This is the only time I’m leary. But we shall see.

I start phase 4 now. APCA – Advanced Professional Culinary Arts. This is the last leg and should be one of the most challenging. I can’t wait!!

Until then!...