Monday, 27 June 2011

Back for Intermediate

Hi everyone,

Apologies for neglecting my blog the past few weeks and leaving everybody hanging over my exam day.

The past two weeks, despite not being at school and reprieved briefly from 6am starts, has been a busy time nonetheless. Between job hunting, cousins visiting, and tieing up various odds and ends (haircut excluded!), I'm looking forward to resuming at Le Cordon Bleu for my intermediate cuisine certificate course tomorrow and getting back into the kitchen.

The week before the exam was spent mostly on classic desserts, I'd been dreading the module for a while and it didn't disappoint. The numbers of cuisine students nodding off during demonstrations was at an all time high as we were taught the various temperatures needed for sugar work and the difference between soft and hard peak stages when whisking egg whites among other useful desserty type things. We made choux pastry, mine failed of course, and my pastry curse continued. This didn't impact my confidence too badly for my exam, I knew the dish inside out. Give me a piece of meat to transform any day, you can keep your eggs thank you very much!

I dug up some of the least disastrous desserts:

And then exam day arrived.

We assembled at 7:30ish for our 8am start. Two minutes before getting started on the 15 minute pre-exam recipe and technique test I remembered I'd left both my paring knives in my bag as I'd taken them home the night before to slay some more vegetables. Close one.

We drew numbers out of a hat to determine our location in the kitchen and starting time. I was hoping for an earlier number to get it over and done with but ended up with number nine, the second to last start time in the corner of the kitchen. Luckily for me I'd been on the station before and knew it had a faulty element that would go thermonuclear even if turned on to one. Not a great start, one of my two elements out of action, things would have to get clever...unless my usual kitchen buddy Jake hadn't landed in station ten and shared like we're used to.

I paced around for an hour until it was my turn to start, then got amongst it. My nerves evaporated as soon as set about carving my chicken, and time flew. Plating my dish in a near empty, quiet kitchen was a change from the usual carnage of people yelling for seasoning. Chef counted down constantly: "Number nine you can now present....number nine you have two minutes". I had intended to present my dish five minutes early but changed my mind and spent those five minutes on my plating, my presentation being notoriously bad in the past. I presented my dish and left greatly relieved, and quite confident that there weren't any major issues with it. At the same time I knew that in the past when I'd thought I'd nailed it something was wrong, and vice versa.

I went to school the next week and was told I'd passed, more relief.

The school hosted a graduation dinner at the Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair which was incredible. The food was really impressive considering the number of people they served banquet style, the kitchen must have been carnage. The starter was a trio of salmon, smoked, gravlax and seared with a fennel salad and some tiny blinis with caviar and a miscellaneous sauce. The main was my favourite of course: beef fillet with some sort of potato, micro carrots and a ravioli which made the dish. Dessert was nice, some sort of caramelized white chocolate mouse with some sorbet and raspberries and things. Afterwards there were some speeches and then we all crossed the stage, shook the chefs hand and got our certificates. 

Can't wait for term two...

1 comment:

  1. Wooohooo! So what are you doing for the summer? :) Im coming to London in September, want to meet up and go to a pub or something? :D