ACTION STATIONS – Day 59

TODAY’S TIDBITS

  • Add the butter to the boiled cream ‘off’ the heat in an alfredo, to avoid the butter breaking.
  • A restaurant trick is to use Grana Padano ‘in’ the sauce, and then top the pasta with Parmigiano. ‘Parm’ is over twice the price of Padano.
  • When rolling pasta, you should be able to see the ‘shadow of your hand’ through it, for a noodle, and you should be able to see ‘the outline of your fingernails’ for a ravioli (thinner).

Today it was action stations in the kitchen. Rather than just selecting food from the line, diners can order at the window, and we had to deliver that dish within a minute or two. We had 4 actions stations: stir fry rice, fresh pappardelle alfredo, fusilli with sausage and rabe, and penne. I was on the ‘alfredo’ station with Jess and Linda.

During a panic!!!!!!!
During a panic!!!!!!!
Fresh pappardelle ready for the water
Fresh pappardelle ready for the boil

We had to get started early, because we were making the pasta fresh, so Jess and I started rolling out the pasta through the pasta machines early. We made sheets about 5in wide and 12in long, which Linda rolled up and cut into pappardelle strips (think wide fettuccine). We used all-purpose flour to keep the pasta from sticking to itself while rolling it out, but as soon as the planks were made we used semolina flour to keep it from sticking. The semolina will fall off when cooking. Meanwhile we had the cream reducing with the ‘cheese rind sachet’. The steps to alfredo are not complicated: sauté the cream in one pan, at the time the cream starts to thicken, add the pasta to boiling salted water, then take the cream off heat and add the butter till melted, add the pasta (about 1-2min in the water) to the cream, s&p, grated cheese, swirl, use a double-tine to twist the pappardelle and lift onto plate. Unfortunately, on our first attempt we put the butter and cheese in to early so they separated – those plates were sitting by when the head chef of the school came by – “your butter’s separated” ..ouch…..luckily I had just completed one properly and showed her asking “is this one ok?”…..”that’s good!”…..phew.

Flames from the stir fry station
Flames from the stir fry station
Gerardo in action
Gerardo in action

The rice stir fry rice station had by far the most demand and by far the most stress. There was lots of shouting, and flames, and running dishes…. it lived up to the name “Action Station”.

We had our share of stress, but for the most part kept ahead of the orders. In these low-carb days I thought for sure we would have some of our butter-cream-cheese-pasta left over, but no. It all went. It’s hard to beat the taste of those ingredients Chef Ben pointed out.

Dalal and Pablo at the Tilt Skillet
Dalal and Pablo at the Tilt Skillet
Gina talking to us about externships
Gina talking to us about externships

We are cooking Indian food on Monday, which is exciting, because we are getting to learn a bit more about the spices. Apparently all the spices we’re getting on Monday are whole, we have to roast them first and then manually grind them – to get a much better flavor.

Gina and Dave from career services came by and spent an hour discussing our ‘externship’ – the 200 hours we are going to spend in a kitchen of a NYC restaurant. Alton and Spencer already have theirs lined up, the rest of us have to get hustling. Apparently there is a real shortage of kitchen staff in NYC at the moment so it’s not going to be too much of a problem finding one – but finding the right one? I was slightly disappointed that there isn’t currently a test kitchen externship available – I was starting to be keen about doing that instead of a restaurant. Oh well. Time to get to work.

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3 comments

  1. Elaine

    Indian food for family meal? Yum! I was also on action station day 19 and then had family meal day 20 while the other half of the class did action stations. We hustled but it was like vacation compared to level 4, which is like chicken your way day in level 2 but twice as much work. Tuesday night is our lesson 3 and thus our first mock final… We do the same 2 dishes 3 nights in a row. I have had consommé with veggie macedoine and then pork chops with espagnole sauce and pomme darphin and cress garnish. Night one I managed to get rare pork chop and jus. Night two got chops still rare (you have to memorize 6-8 minutes in the oven after searing but those guys were still at 130F after 15 minutes) and sad darphin and forgot cress totally. Chefs were helping too! They say I should try to mise everything for the meal in the first 5 minutes. Anyway, dinner is at 10:45pm after cleanup so the only way I will get to taste charcuterie is to take a vacation day. Great idea making bite size pieces!

  2. Stewart Borden

    “…vacation compared to level 4″….. uh oh. I had heard in the locker room that level 4 was “pure chaos”. I hope we learn some new dishes though as well as get the speed up. wow, mise in 5 minutes sounds like a tall order. I find that I a) either forget a few ingredients and have to go back, b) forget the amounts, and have to go back to my station, or c) forget the proper container and have to back and get those – I don’t think I’ve ever ‘mised’ in one fell swoop. Look forward to going up the level 4 learning curve.

  3. Elaine

    My issue with mise is where to put it. Each night I spilled stuff on my station and had to get more. New stuff? Yeah, the other half of rthe class has skate to fillet. That happens for me starting Thursday. The first thing chef told us was make sure to wash off every drop of slime because it’s toxic!

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