As I eat my accidental mushroom soup for lunch today, I look back on the past two nights of class. Frustrated begins to describe how I feel. On Monday we started getting into International Cuisine; the chef split the room down the middle and haphazardly assigned two people in the front row as the group leaders. Since it was already 7:30 PM (we had been sitting in lecture for 1.5 hours) I was already agitated and started out the cooking portion simply not caring about what was going on. My faithful partner and I chose to do the beef roulade dish. BIG MISTAKE.
The chef offered to help with the dish in order to speed things up. So he cleans off the top round (see picture of large piece of meat), and then proceeds to slice off the pieces we’ll need. Oh great, part of the reason we chose this was to get more hands on with meat butchering, I guess not. But I did have a great time wrapping up the leftovers in saran wrap. Then chef starts shouting out orders to bring him all the ingredients. Frantic search through the school, since nothing is ever in our kitchen, for bacon, mustard, and pickles. (Yeah…sounds soooo appetizing.) We get everything together and guess who begins to build up the roulades. Of course, the master chef who has done this countless times already.
Then he begins demanding carrots and onions, which according to the recipe HE HAS PROVIDED are not needed until later in the cooking process. He acts like we are blithering idiots who can’t julienne onion and carrot as we provided him diced onions and carrots as the recipe calls for. SO HE CUTS THEM HIMSELF. Okay so I’m not at the point where I’m reminding myself to breath and that violence is not the answer. He then demands (this man simply does not request things) toothpicks. Another frantic rush around the school. The first ones are too big, the second ones are too small. WTF? Does the chef think he is goldilocks?? He settles for the small ones and proceeds to roll the meat. So to recap, I’ve wrapped meat in saran wrap and gotten my daily exercise. Yeah, I didn’t sign up for this.
We do get to do the cooking, which of course we do wrong because we follow exactly what the recipe says. So he comes and “fixes” it by doing it himself. We end up producing (what I think) is a horribly overcooked but well seasoned dish. He seems to like it but definitely takes him 5 minutes of chewing to get through his one bite. I found though that the only way to learn something is to hang out on the stove and watch what the other people are doing wrong. Because eventually the chef will come over and “fix” their wrongdoing. So I sat with a saucepot of veal veloute stirring it the majority of the night.
Last night, in classical cuisine, I was super hyped. Left work thinking, oh this class is going to be great. We are finally going to learn how to do sauces! From a master chef saucier. The chef not only comes late (which irks me since I fly across town to get to class on time) but proceeds to lecture about sauce for two hours. At some point when we are finally cooking and I’m off searching for heavy cream, another chef goes to me, “so does your ass hurt, because you’ve been sitting in that stool for two hours.”
The chef has nicknamed my faithful partner and I “the tandem duo” and we choose to do a Sauce Supreme (chicken gravy with a fancy French name). And of course we proceed to do the entire sauce completely wrong as we follow EXACTLY what the classical Escoffier book says. So is this chef saying that Escoffier is wrong? Seriously?
Anyways, the sauce for some reason developed this very strong mushroomy taste after sitting for a while. Fortunately we had saved our mushrooms that we had used earlier in the night (mushrooms release lots of water while cooking and the recipe called for some of this liquid). So we added the leftover mushrooms to the completely wrong sauce and that is how I am eating accidental mushroom soup for lunch. Definitely better than the stuff from a can, but am I seriously going to culinary school for this??
The classroom is too small, the refrigerators are never stocked, the chef is a primadonna that cannot possibly manage to teach all of us at the same time, the day students make horrible stock that the night students have to use for our dishes – which makes everything taste like crap, and lately I’ve been doing more dishes than cooking.
The saving grace is class tonight. Unfortunately rabbit is off the menu tonight due to an ACF meeting, will be doing a flounder dish instead.