We Made It!!!!!!! The Practical Exam, Tequila, and a Pigeon – Day 79

TODAY’S TIDBITS

  • Add calvados to your apple tart to make it “pop”
  • Add grand marnier to your chocolate mousse to make it pop
  • Add tequila to your lemon tart to make it….you guessed it…pop!

We all made it…yahoo!!!!!!! Congrats to everyone!!!!!!

Waiting outside the kitchen trying to guess the dishes
Waiting outside the kitchen trying to guess the dishes on the exam
Cooking up a storm
Cooking up a storm

Today was the dreaded final practical exam. We all arrived early but were locked out of the kitchen until the official start time. What were the required dishes going to be? We all peered through the kitchen windows trying to figure it out. There were apples on some of the trays so the apple tart was definitely one of them (good sign), but we couldn’t be sure of anything else. At 9am we all walked in and could see on the board we were either going to get apple-skate or pork-poached egg. Phew, no lemon tart. We each picked a number out of the hat (I got C5 which meant I was doing the skate-apple tart at 12.43 and 1.39pm …..yes, the stars we aligning, this was the easier combination and wasn’t the first start time. Plus my station was on the oven side for the first time and by the sink (these are all things that make it easier).

Miyako entering the judging area
Miyako entering the judging area
Judges Chef Mark and Chef John tasting our food.
Judges Chef Herve, Chef Marc and Chef John tasting our food.
Chef John evaluating Spencer's creations
Chef John evaluating Spencer’s creations

The first part of today’s exam was the recipe test. We were given a blank piece of paper and told to write down the full recipe for the skate grenobloise. After handing this in, we were given another blank piece of paper and were given 10 minutes to look at our books and write down anything we wanted about our dishes. I wrote down all the ingredients, measurements, and oven temperatures for both dishes. And then we were off……I had till 12.43 to carry a completed tray of 4 skate dishes across the hall to the judges, which I thought was plenty of time but it turned out I only made it by 30 seconds. I had my plan of attack pretty clear in my head: tart dough first, then the tart compote, do the first pass on the potato cocottes, fillet the skate, make the croutons, roll out the dough, butter and bake the tart, fine chop the parsley, prepare the mise for the brown butter Grenoble sauce (butter, lemon supremes, lemon juice, capers), qc and second pass on the cocottes and then boil them, sauté the skate, make the brown butter sauce, plate and deliver the skate, pick my mint garnishes, whip the crème Chantilly, apricot glaze the cooled apple tart, plate and deliver the tarts! I was a bit nervous about my dishes, but Chef Dominique had tasted my skate and said that it was very good which brought down my apprehension level a bit. I thought my tart dough was a bit too crunchy, but it turned out Chef Hervé likes a crunchy tart dough so that all worked out. After we were all finished, we were called in one at a time and told by the judges how we did. My potatoes were cocotted very well but weren’t quite hot enough, and my plating assembly could have been better, but overall I did pretty well. I took the opportunity to have a good conversation with Chef Hervé about which alcohols to put in various desserts which was fun.

Me getting my evaluation (and talking tequila) with Chef Herve
Me getting my evaluation (and talking tequila) with Chef Herve
Erik and the obligatory flambe shot
Erik and the obligatory flambe shot

After we were all done, we all did high fives, but it was a bittersweet celebration. This was the last day of classes and we are all separately off to do our externships for the next two months and aren’t going to see each other until our final written exam in April. (After our externships are over, we come back to school for one day to write a final written exam and make a presentation about our externship.)

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“hot hot hot”

We all went to Toad Hall to celebrate with Chef Dominique and Chef Joe afterwards which was a lot of fun. Tequilas all round!!!!! Congratulations to everyone, I’m going to miss you all!!!!!!!!

Of course, the entire day would have been a disaster had it not been for a pigeon. I got home yesterday so exhausted that I didn’t set my alarm properly so it didn’t go off, but  I was woken up at 8.17am by the sound of a pigeon at our window. Had it not been for that pigeon I would have slept right through the morning exam for sure.

Moving forward, I’m planning to write about all our experiences at our various externships, the tips we’re each learning at our various restaurants, and then what we’re going to do culinarily afterwards. The adventure continues….

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4 comments

  1. Cate

    I love this blog and your whole experience, Stewart — thanks so much for sharing all the details! Congratulations to all of you!

  2. Judy

    Congrats on making it through, Stewart. I see that nothing has changed when it comes to being late (or almost, in this case) for exams. Remember our French translation final? That was the only exam to which I ever arrived late. It was a lovely walk to get there though, as I recall. Best of luck on your externship at JoJo’s.

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