Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Baking for Dummies...

Baking and Pastry Skill Development is the class all Culinary students kind of dread, yet secretly are eager to start. First of all, its easy as shit. And the breads that we do are pretty similar to the breads I made at L'Etoile during my stint with the wonderful Lady Bakers. In my class I'm on a team of two. My partner, Eli (who I was able to choose myself because I was recently elected group leader... but more on this later) worked for several months on the pastry station at Commander's Palace in New Orleans, one of the most famous restaurants in the country. Our daily production usually consists of a few easy baking tasks, then we goof around and try and stay out of trouble for the next four hours of class while other groups are trying to do the same.

I mentioned earlier that I was elected Group Leader of my class, which means that I have to wear a little gold pin on my Chef Coat, and that I am the first one in the kitchen every day, and the last one to leave. I'm the link between the students and the Chef. I'm responsible for making sure the whole group is on the same page, and for making sure that my classmates are working in the appropriate manner. Basically, I'm the sous chef of my class.

I got into a relatively decent rhythm for the past week. Here's how a day in my life would have looked. I wake up at ten, give or take a few hours. I do my piping homework. Piping homework, is probably going to be the death of me. We have to make little cones out of parchment paper and fill them with chocolate gel and practice drawing designs, and writing "Happy Birthday So and So" on a piece of cardboard. I thought about inviting my baker friends over to do it for me, because honestly, if I ever come to a point in my career where I have to write "Happy Birthday Somebody" on a cake, I'll know that somewhere along the line I screwed up big time and I should probably start working on a new career in something a little less degrading. But giving the bakers the satisfaction that I couldn't do something that they could was not an option, so I do it by myself. My chocolate cursive is just becoming legible. After I finish that, I sit and watch TV and try and drone out the sound of my roommate Jon, and friend Alex, playing World of Warcraft on their lap tops next to each other. I go to lunch, then go to the CIA storeroom around 1 20 or so. The CIA storeroom is where all the food comes into the school. Each classroom places orders daily and before class you have to pick them up. I, being the Group Leader, am responsible for this most days. So I inventory a 40 or so items on the requisition, then with the help of a few others, cart it off to the bakeshop. I set up stations after I put away the food order. Because I know if I dont, some people in my group will work an entire day without sanitizer buckets or paper towels.

Then class starts. Chef Eglinsky runs through everyone's daily production. So far, I've made Creme Caramel, French Bread, Cranberry Walnut Bread, Apple Pie (Mary you can rest in peace, it really sucked in comparison to your apple pie), and Tiramisu. After Eli and I finish, and other groups are still working, I basically wander around the kitchen and inspect for cleanliness, ask people if they need help, and I do a lot of dishes. My classmates, save a select few, can't seem to get it through their heads that I am not their mommy. Yet I keep wiping their asses for them, and keep doing their dishes. I stop the class every now and then, telling them to thank me for cleaning up after them and to not let it happen again. A "Yes Chef" or "Heard" is spouted out by everyone in class, then the same thing happens a half hour later. I'm about to unleash my secret weapon on them. Most of them haven't had the pleasure of meeting Justin Groom... Dish Nazi.

After Dinner Break, we come back finish cleaning up and have our tastings. We taste all the products produced in class and discuss them. Everyone in the class has a stick up their asses because of these tastings. If one person says something bad about another person's dish, the owner of that dish will retaliate with a negative comment about that person;s creation. It's a viscious cycle. "This ice cream has way too much salt in it." "Oh yeah, well your ice cream looks like puke with blood in it." It actually gets pretty entertaining. After the tastings, I am responsible for making sure the kitchen is spotless, and only when I say so can people leave the kitchen.

I leave, change clothes, hit the gym for a late night game of pick up basketball. Around ten thirty of eleven, I head to Eli's room and hang out there until 1 or 2, come back to my room and eventually fall asleep around 4 or 4 30. And start it all over again.

The Colts game sucked. I don't wanna talk about it. It still hurts. United beat Liverpool. Always feels good.

Next weekend I'm thinking about going to the city. I want to either hit up Ma Peche (Dave Chang's new French/Vietnamese place) or Marea (Michael White's Italian Seafood Restaurant). It just depends on who I can get to go with me, or where I can get a reservation. But it really comes down to whether I'm craving burgundy snails with pork sausage and garlic from Ma Peche, or Uni lardo crostini, chicken oysters with poached egg and mushrooms, and fusilli wich octopus and bone marrow all from Marea. It will be a game time decision. Until then, take it easy.


Also, I came across this today... please enjoy. It's the cutest thing ever.

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