Well today was end of day four at school and its been a busy few days getting into the swing of things. First things first, day one involved picking up our uniforms and knives, some introductory speeches and admin. I really like our uniform and I managed to choose the right size pants and jackets when I applied back in New Zealand which was a bonus.......but surprise surprise my hats are too small. My chef hat currently sits precariously on the top of my head performing very little of its intended function, I can force it on to some extent but I'm afraid it might make my brain explode, especially when all the elements in the kitchens are on and the room heats up. I would have thought the second largest hat possible on the chart would have been big enough but nou! There's just no denying it I have a huge nut on the top of my shoulders.
We met a number of the chefs at school and they're all very approachable and have good senses of humour which is awesome. We also met each other, the entire group consists of about 50 people in total divided in groups of 10, there's a huge number of nationalities, only about 5 people from the UK I think. Some of the countries just in my group of the top of my head are: Turkey, Alaska (it's a country I swear), Canada, Australia, India among others. There's some really great people in my group, we all went and grabbed a beer down the road after day one which was cool.
Day two consisted of a whole day of health and safety lecturing culminating in a multi-choice test for some national standard qualification. It was good to get that out of the way early, now we can all actually get jobs working in kitchens hopefully.
Day three was exciting, it was our first exposure to how the teaching and learning is done. The way it works is: the day begins at 8am with a 3 hour demonstration of various techniques and recipes by one of the chefs. There are mirrors and numerous cameras so it's easy to catch everything and take notes if you need too. Later on in the day or the next day you then go with your group to one of the kitchens where you do a three hour practical demonstrating some or all of what was shown earlier, the supervising chef then looks over, tries and critiques what you've built thus letting you know what to work on.
Our first practical focused solely on the various cuts of vegetable and for many of us including me it was our first exposure to our new knives which incidentally are reee-diiculously sharp as the hole I made in my thumb inside 30 mins can attest. Some of the cuts we were doing included: julienne, macedoine, jardiniere, brunoise, hache, enmincer, chiffonade to various vegetables and herbs. It all sounds very simple and it is, but chef really wanted to see perfect, uniform cut vegetables, it was an eye-opener to the level of precision we're going to need in the not too distant future.
Day four focused on salad hors d'oeuvres. Salads and vinaigrettes in various forms. The practical was fun, we had to produce 3 different salads with a couple of different vinaigrettes, there was a lot of time consuming prep but once that was done it all came together in the end. Managed to cut another hole on the tip of the same thumb which I cut the day before, the knives really are bloody sharp, its awesome. I know now that younger brother Mitch the designated 'knife-sharpener' back home in Auckland really had been slacking off his duties. The main critique for me today was being too heavy-handed with the basil infused vinaigrette on my tomato salad, as it started to invade one of the other salads when I plated everything, oh well, tasted nice though.
I've really enjoyed the way it all works and the first few days at school here in London. I'm even starting to get used to 6:30 starts for my 8am lectures, although I definitely admit the first day or two were a hell of a shock to the system!
Tomorrow is another day of different salads and things I think....
Sorry for the lack of photos so far, I'll take one tomorrow if I create something I think is worthy :)