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!...


At 1:04 PM, Blogger Jacki said...

So what is WITH this Dwayne guy? Is he a few fries short of a Happy Meal or just thinks his way is better? Geez, I got frustrated just reading what happened!


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