29 November 2011

Day 61: Bitch, Meez

Our first cooking day in Culinary Foundations III was a runaway success. We roasted chickens, a relatively simple task, and made pommes puree, a process we'd done several times in Foundations II.

Our second day of cooking was a disaster.

In Foundations II we basically had up to three hours to finish whatever dishes were required for the day. We could choose the order and present them as soon as they were ready. By and large, each dish was a single item. Our roast chicken day was largely the same – chicken and potatoes as soon as we could knock them out.

The second cooking day featured service windows. In order to semi-replicate restaurant timing, we were given successive 15 minute windows, one for the first dish and one for the second. That's two dishes, each with a side and a sauce (or in one case, a flavored butter). Starting from scratch to the first window was roughly two hours. 15 minutes after that was dish #2. If the window closed and we didn't present, we'd get a zero.

The first dish was a sautéed chicken breast, which I started about five minutes too late and had to present undercooked. My chef-instructor sliced it, looked at it, and that was that. Can't taste something that isn't cooked through. The second dish was a grilled chicken breast, which I cooked properly to temperature but didn't season enough.

On the positive side: I can make a decent rice pilaf.

On the negative side, and the reason I lost so much time: I didn't mise out properly. There's a reason that phrase is used – everything in its place. I didn't have that, so I was running around like a mad man, back and forth across the kitchen to grab white wine or flour or tomato paste or whatever.

Each little trip probably took 20-30 seconds, but it added up. It also didn't help me stay on top of recipes, which meant I kept referring to my notes and kept losing more time.

Everything in its place.

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