Culinary School: The Midterm


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[infobox bg=”bluelight” color=”black” opacity=”on” subtitle=”The Midterm “]Adventures in Culinary School[/infobox]

I can’t believe a month has already past since writing the post chronicling the start of my journey into Level 3 at The International Culinary Center.  Truth be told – I was nervous about Level 3.  It’s such a far cry from Level 1 and 2, but a completely gratifying in a different way.  I really appreciated the consistency expected from us in Level 3 – we functioned in teams and turned out the same recipes over and over again in the pursuit of perfection.  The techniques applied are all critically important to moving forward into Levels 4, 5, and 6 – when the cooking becomes a real-world activity overnight.  Level 4 is “Family Meal” – you prepared lunch for the entire staff and student body everyday.  In Levels 5 and 6 you work at L’Ecole, the restaurant downstairs that serves real-life, living, breathing human customers paying actual coin for our food.  AH!  But, I’m ready….why?

Because I passed my midterm!  The Level 3 midterm, to put it gently, is a BFD.  You prepare 2 dishes – either an appetizer and main, or fish and dessert against the clock and have set presentation times based on a number you draw at the start of class.  Alums come in to taste the food, and you must serve 4 plates per course.  Everything has to be cooked perfectly, seasoned well, plated beautifully – AND ON TIME.  In addition, you don’t present the food you make in the Level 3 kitchen.  You haul ass down the hall to the auditorium and present to your audience there.  It’s a bit daunting to say the least.

Food presented a minute late? Points off.  Gloves not worn when plating?  Points off.  Towels or drinking glass on your station?  Points off.  Uniform not clean and in order?  Points off.  Too many dirty bowls or sauce pans on your station?  Points off.  Knives not sharpened?  Points off.  You get the drill, non?

I unfortunately drew the very first presentation time, meaning I had the least amount of time to prep my 2 dishes out of everyone in the class.  A challenge, definitely.  I generally make quick work of my dishes but with the mandatory pressure of presenting on time and hot is a bit nerve-wracking.  My first dish was a beautiful Consomme.  You begin with a Marmite, and clarify with a raft using ground turkey or beef with veggies.  Mine turned out nicely, completely clear, with nicely cut vegetable garnish.

My second dish was Poulet Roti Grand-Mere – Grandmother Style Roasted Chicken.  An absolutely delicious dish with far too much garniture to be a simple dish.  I had about 40 minutes in between presenting the Consomme and the Chicken and I had to really haul ass to get it done.  Our taste testers were impressed with me, thank goodness.  And…I passed, I passed, I passed.  Ya know when Tracy Flick finds out she has won the presidency in the 90s movie Election and is jumping up and down in the hallway thinking nobody is watching?  That’s how I felt – except I didn’t care that anyone saw me.  Here’s to Level 4 and making you lunch everyday for the next month at Family Meal.




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