Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Silence, and mis-en-place

Christina starts the Genoise sponge early in the evening so it can bake
while she prepares most everything else. 
“No talking!”

Chef Greg Singh is usually soft spoken, but his voice cuts across the thud of knives on cutting boards like the crack of a judge's gavel. I mutter my apologies to Chef and to the student that I have been chatting up, sinking back into silence as I snap photos of this part-time evening class. It’s their last week of studies, and the tension in the kitchen is near-tangible. The relative silence is both a blessing and a curse: There is no chatter to distract students from their mise-en-place; chopping, mixing, baking, preparing everything for their final, practical exam on Tuesday. But it also means they must rely on their kitchen bibles – the notes that they have kept throughout their hands-on lessons. No borrowing recipes. No last minute hints, tips or warnings of impending disasters. No talking!

Scott chops vegetables for soup, stock and main course
On Tuesday there will be no talking, no recipes, no kitchen bibles. The soon-to-be graduates will have to trust their memories and their own judgment to get them through the three course meal. They will need good timing and all the confidence they can muster, and it all starts today with silence, and mis-en-place.

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