I hope all of you are surviving winter and keeping warm. I have been very busy over the past few weeks, and I have lots of good stories to tell.
Last week our class began the meat and fish module. Now as all of you know I despise baking, so I was very excited to be finally finished desserts and onto something more appealing. During the first day we got up close and personal with all kinds of seafood. First we got the opportunity to fillet a Dover Sole. This process was quite interesting as Dover Sole are flat fish (which i never knew) thus they have four separate fillet. After that came the mussels, which we all happily cleaned and excitingly checked for freshness. This done by tapping an open muscle shell and waiting for it to shut. At one point the entire class was knocking mussels on their work stations, creating a very irritating noise. The best however was yet to come… with the Lobster. According to the chef, the lobster tails had to remain straight in order to optimize the appearance of the final dish. The only way to ensure such a result is by sticking a skewer up the rear of the lobster. If I thought desserts were bad I was mistaken. Not only did I have to handle a live creature but I had skewer it and finally ends its life by plunging the lobster into boiling liquid. I know my description is graphic but this barely does justice to what actually happened. With some coaxing from my classmates I was able to complete my tasks and actually cook that lobster but I think it will take some time before I try preparing lobster again.
On day two meat was on the chopping block. I got to start my day off bright and early by examining a massive lamb liver. I had barely recovered from my lobster trauma only to get thrown back in the kitchen with a liver. Each of us got a slice of liver and had to cook it to a perfect inner temperature. Somehow I managed to get passed the distinct liver smell and cook it properly. The chef was adamant that all students taste the liver, I could not, and would not consume it. I pretended to take a bite but the liver never entered my mouth! There are some items I just have no interest in consuming.
After our day of meat we got started on our mise-en-place for our first Table d’Hôte service. My team and I were on the infamous Hot Line, in charge of all the main courses. I had a few moments of panic during this experience. Usually we are allotted two days for mise-en-place for service, this was not the case last week. We had a half a day to prepare all the necessary requirements for our complex menu. I had to chance to debone 3 lamb legs, make a tomato sauce, chop vegetables, dice herbs all at top speed. By some fluke we managed to finish all prep seconds before service began. During the actual service I was in charge of plating the quail dish. All my plates made it to the dining room with out being sent back by the chef, I was rather impressed with myself. I had to improve on my speed but my final products were looking good. My team survived service with few glitches and we left Friday afternoon completely exhausted but feeling good.
Next week we have another service, I will be stationed on the baked goods section. our menu is full of delicious dishes including some wonderful vegetarian options. Come over to St. Pius and have lunch with us!