Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Gearing up for the final stretch

BEFORE: students' evaluation depends
on matching the dish to its rightful owner. 
AFTER: Chef has to try them all, but a
spoonful is all he needs to determine
if the soup is done right.

Gearing up for final, practical exams, Chef Bill challenged his Basic students with a couple of black box days, named for the culinary competitions that present competitors with surprise ingredients, and a short time-frame in which to produce a dish from them. Our students were kept in the dark about what they would cook, though they had already learned how to prepare the dishes at some point in their lessons.

Tom works with melted
chocolate for his mousse
As they set up their stations, ingredients were revealed: all the fixings for cream of mushroom soup and chocolate mousse with Genoise sponge. The deadline for the first – 45 minutes, no more, no less – presented hot, in a warm bowl. The timing for dessert: finished, ready to unmold and plate the following day, when they also had the challenge of producing a risotto and a main course of stuffed chicken supreme.

Joleen whips egg whites for her Genoise sponge.
These challenges were a lead-in to exams last week, both hands-on and written. As the last pen was laid down, the knives laid aside and the ovens shut down, silent tension made way for giddy relief. For better or worse, exams are over.

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