Week 13 and 14: The final countdown

I haven’t been counting to the last day of class but we only have 5 more class days left in the Professional Culinary program as I write this post. Part of me don’t want classes to end yet. As I am reflecting on the classes from the past two weeks it has been long, exhausting physically and mentally. We have been doing restaurant days, followed by a black box exam and our written exams (from the school’s and from ITA.) This past week (week 14) we were grouped into our final team for the real service days on week 15.

I am amazed about how far I have made it! Several weeks ago I was still anxious about restaurant days and not knowing if I am ready for it. The chefs have laid out a really, really good course plan to bring us this far and looking back on the first two weeks I would have told myself to trust the process and concentrate on each new skill.

We cooked some of the more expensive menu items for 3 restaurant day practices – foie gras, oysters, more lobsters, souffle, beef tenderloins. Each day we would have chef demo a 4 course menu, we prepped the mise en place, and for service the chef would called each station with an order. We would take turn in our partner group to cook and plate. The plates are then brought up to the “pass” for a chef’s final check through to see it is good or needs to be redone. The good plates are then brought to the table and we would wait to get our next order from chef.

(I’m posting this on my phone so here’s a load of pictures to be organized later in a nicer gallery.)

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These few restaurant days were tough – new recipes, not much sleep as I was reviewing the new recipes the night before, time pressure when chef calls an order, making sure nothing comes back, and eating cold food (we didn’t eat until all 4 courses were served). My partner and I have never worked in a kitchen before so it was not until day 3 where we finally found our rhythm. There may have been some tears that may or may not have occurred in and out of the kitchen. It is important to have a healthy stress reliever in your back pocket (mine is chocolate.)

A key thing is we’ve made good food and we have pushed ourselves further than we have had to and we are only going to improve with more time in the kitchen. 😉

Next post to focus on the black box and my salmon confit dish.

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