Another Mock Final, The Trail Report, and dirty dishes – Day 72

TODAY’S TIDBITS

  • Always shave before going to a “trail” (see note below).
  • Rotate your profiterole pan in the oven half-way through the baking. You can really see the different hotspots in oven with a tray of profiteroles. Some definitely get baked before others, so it’s always a good idea to rotate anything you’re baking half-way through.
  • Use an electronic scale for baking. A mechanical scale works well enough for protein cooking, but for baking you need better accuracy.

Today was another mock final. I walked in (just in time, I got a flat tire riding to work today), picked up number B6 which meant I plate at 1:10 (salmon) and 1:50 (profiteroles). We had roll call, chef reminded us of some of the more common errors, and then BAM, we’re off.

Running the elements full flame after clean up to burn off any grit.
Running the elements full flame after clean up to burn off any grit.
Sometimes the dishes pile up, even in a professional kitchen.
Sometimes the dishes pile up, even in a professional kitchen.
Pre-oven profiteroles
Pre-oven profiteroles

I could tell within 10 minutes that my profiterole dough “wasn’t like the others”. It seemed to take forever to absorb the eggs, it didn’t seem to dry well, and when I piped it out it looked a little flat. I stuck them in the oven anyway, but they came out looking like Alton’s macaroons (Alton’s now got a copyright on macaroon-looking profiteroles). Mentally, it seems so hard to throw it all out and start again. If it was just another step in the recipe, it would be no problem, but psychologically starting over seems twice as difficult. Anyway, into the garbage they went, and off to make another batch. I felt slightly better when I saw Emma “bin” all hers as well. Misery likes company I guess. Joe mentioned that I was using an analog scale to measure the ingredients (my digital scale shattered) and that was probably the cause. The analog scale is closeish (and good enough for non-baking recipes), but “4 grams too much of one baking ingredient, and 4 grams too little of another, and suddenly your ratios are all off”. I borrowed Meagan’s digital scale, and the second batch worked fine. I also wasn’t happy with my spinach (I had slightly burned the garlic and slightly over-salted). Having just re-done the profiteroles, it was somehow easier to “bin it” and re-do the spinach as well. I was pretty happy with my dishes, though my white wine sauce came out a bit thick. Chef Joe and I agreed that the wonderful wine-fumet sauce smells sooooo good, and like a fancy French kitchen should. It certainly was one of the WOW flavours we had back in Level 1.

Salade nicoise vinegar infusing with garlic.
Salade nicoise vinegar infusing with garlic.
Miyako searing the dark meats of the chicken before putting in the oven
Miyako searing the dark meats of the chicken before putting in the oven

Many of us are reporting back on the “trails” for our externships. Trails are the kitchen equivalent of a job interview, where you are basically “trailing” someone in the kitchen doing what they tell you to do for a whole shift. For our 200 hour externships, you basically go do a trail and then they tell you if you can do your externship there. This is how it worked for Joe at Betony, and Alton at ABC kitchen for example. Yesterday, Vitor showed up for his trail at The Modern slightly unshaven, so the chef gave him a razor and told him to go shave. Somewhere along the way to the bathroom Vitor lost the razor, so he used his potato peeler!!!!!! Ouch!!!!!! Rachel went to hers all ready to spend the day in the kitchen, but it turned out to be a traditional hour interview which she passed and now she has to go back to trail. Pablo reported being amazed at Le Chevalier – apparently they have a chandelier in the kitchen(?!). Good luck to Dalal “trailing” at Mercer kitchen today. I still haven’t heard back from my restaurants, but Gina is suggesting and alternative: JoJos, which doesn’t “sound” fancy, but JoJo is actually Jean-Georges nickname and is one of his restaurants, so it might be a fantastic experience.

Tomorrow some us start the famed Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy) which is marinading tonight in wine, mirepoix and a garlic bouquet garni (thyme, garlic, bay leaf, pepper corns wrapped in a cheese cloth – see main pic). We also make our own pasta for this. I can’t wait.

Happy birthday to Joanne who was a welcome sight back in the kitchen today.

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