Friday, June 25, 2010

Done with Classes

I'm done with my classes! My final went well; I am expecting a B in the Restaurant class. I'm fine with it since I already have one B, so I guess that other B turned out to be a good thing.

This blog may not be very active for the next couple of weeks, since I'll be on Summer break. I will try to pop in with an occasional restaurant review.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One More Day

Tomorrow is my last day in culinary school. Oh my dog, that's weird.

Today wasn't too thrilling. I made two portobello sandwiches and we cleaned the vents above the stoves. Tomorrow we have two huge groups of kids coming in; one group of 60 young children and then a larger group of college kids. There's a set menu, so it should be an easy day for cooking. Then we clean, take our final, and I'm done.

It looks like my externship is sealed. Chef Elmira and I will have to communicate over email during Summer break, but according to her there's no chance I won't get it. Score! It's a really good one, too.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Glory Walk!

Today we did our glory walk down the hall at school. Everyone comes out and stands in line to applaud us for getting through a year of culinary school. I'm not sure it's the most impressive feat in the world, but it was nice to see all our Chefs, especially Chef Daughters, who I love and haven't seen in probably a month. At first I felt very silly, but then I realized hey, I made it through, and some of these people just started. I know when I had just begun the program this day seemed very far away. I even Randaled a little bit, click if you don't know what that means.

I made four portobello sandwiches today. My dad emailed me and told me that it is either portobello or portabella, since the masculine or feminine have to agree in the word. It didn't occur to me that it was a combination of two words. I don't know Italian; my French knowledge leads me to believe it means "beautiful door," but that seems odd.

No word from externship yet. I'm grumpy and nervous because I really need to get that set up before my trip, which means I need to get it set up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'm Still Unclear on how to Spell Portobello

Really, I've seen it spelled a million different ways, portabella, portobella, portobello, etc. Spell check says they're all wrong, so that doesn't help.

My sandwiches came out well today. I made six of them, including two and three at the same time. It's fun and a little bit more simple than the croissant sandwich I made last week.

I had my interview today for my externship. The Chef told me I was the most qualified of anyone he's spoken to, which sounds like a good sign. The problem is that I need to hear if I got the internship by Thursday, so I'm nervous about that part. I don't want to end up staying at the school, which is probably what will happen if I don't hear back in two days. This is Not My Fault, either; my interview was supposed to be a week ago.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back of House Practical

Today was our practical. We had an hour and a half to make a roasted chicken, gratin dauphinoise, braised cabbage, and a beurre blanc sauce.

We weren't allowed to use our recipes and I pretty much drew a blank on the beurre blanc. I also cut the cabbage too big so it wasn't cooked all the way. I'm really kicking myself for that one.

In good news, my dauphinoise was good and my chicken was cooked perfectly. Big surprise, the two things that I do at home all the time are the two things I did well on the practical. I don't know what my score was and I'm not sure I want to.

Luckily, my projects have been good, and my last quiz score was perfect, plus I already have an A in front of house. I'll be really upset if my grade is lower than a B, and thrilled if I somehow manage an A.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Chicken Sandwich Wrap-up

Today was my last day on the chicken and pineapple sandwich. I got four orders pretty much right in a row, and some were modified. One wanted ciabatta bread instead of a croissant (why?!), and one wanted the pineapple on the side. I knocked them out, we cleaned, and it's the weekend! Oh, and Chef let me take home my mis en place*, so I have the stuff to make a few chicken sandwiches at home now, sans pineapple since I'm not a fan.

Next week I'm moving on to the Portabella Mushroom Sandwich. Should be fun; too bad not that many people order it. I have a feeling I'll be helping on the grill much more than actually making the mushroom sandwich.

My externship interview is on Tuesday next week!

*Mis en place is the term for all the food you have prepared at your station and your set up; for example my station had croissants, butterflied chicken breast, pineapple, julienned cabbage, carrot, and red onion, Asian vinaigrette, chicken marinade, wasabi mayonnaise, lola rosa lettuce, and strawberries. It just translates to "put in place."

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"The best pizza to ever come out of this kitchen"

That's right, according to Chef Kupper, I made him the best pizza he's ever had that came from Cafe Bleu.

Chef Kupper came to the restaurant wanting pizza. It isn't my station anymore, but the girl whose station it currently is happens to have had jury duty this morning. Chef Carlos said I would make Kupper his pizza, and I agreed. Chef asked for grilled chicken, and then asked where I'm from. After my answer, he said, "Well then make me a San Francisco pizza!"

Not knowing what that really meant, I figured artichoke hearts were a safe bet, because they're so California, and then I added olives because olives are great on pizza. I did his grilled chicken as well, just salt and pepper on a few tenderloins. I cooked the pizza 90% in the woodfired oven and finished it in a convection oven to brown the top a little bit.

Even when I dropped the pizza off in foundations 2, Kupper and Chef Mary were all over it, so excited to have pizza, impressed with how it looked. Then Chef Kupper came into the restaurant during service to tell me how great my pizza was. He told Chef Carlos too, so I guess that's some good points for me today!


Oh, and I made two chicken and pineapple sandwiches today. It's getting easy; too bad I only have two more days on that station!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Chicken and Pineapple Sandwich WIN

Success! Today I had orders for three chicken/pineapple sandwiches, and they went off without a hitch. Chef didn't even have a chance to yell at me, because when he started in, "I need at least one!" I had just put down two plates. Bam.

I thought it was going to be a lot more scary than it was. I think I could even handle five sandwiches at the same time like the guys on the chicken cordon bleu and salmon stations had to today. Maybe I'll get a chance to try this week.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Prep Prep Prep

I didn't think we could spend five hours just prepping for the week, but apparently we can.

The chicken sandwich is my dish this week, and it's very involved. It's a butterflied chicken breast and a pineapple slice, both marinated and grilled. It comes with a sweet and spicy slaw with an Asian vinaigrette, as well as wasabi mayonnaise, on a croissant. It's served with waffle fries.

So the prep looks like this:
julienne savoy cabbage
julienne bell peppers
julienne red onion
julienne carrot
make Asian vinaigrette (something like seven or eight ingredients)
cut pineapple into rounds and core, something I had never done until today
make wasabi powder, mix into mayo, the easiest step
make marinade for chicken and pineapple
peel potato and use mandolin to make waffle fries, which are more like chips

The prep for this dish is insane, but just like the other dishes I've seen, the actual cooking time won't be bad. All I have to do to make the dish is flat-top the croissant, spread the wasabi mayo, grill the chicken and the pineapple, put it under the broiler, put together the slaw, cut a strawberry for garnish, and plate it.

I think I may have inadvertently chosen the most intricate dish on the menu.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Next Food Network Star: Early Opinions

I have opinions on the contestants on The Next Food Network Star.

Aarti: For some reason, I love Aarti. "Aarti Party" is incredibly annoying, but otherwise, I think she's great. I love her accent, and I think she's pretty. She could totally be the next host of some Saturday morning Food Network show that no one watches.

Alexis: Well, he's gone already, and I doubt we're missing much. I do think there are worse people than him that are still on the show, though.

Aria: I am undecided. She was such a favorite in the first episode, winning both challenges. She seems a bit dull to me. I'm sure she can cook, but we don't know if she can host yet.

Brad: Damn this guy is cute. Too bad he has the personality of a month-old mango. I hope he gets better because... well, he's cute.

Brianna: She's stunning, but based on the "equal opportunity" formula for picking winners, she won't win. I'm pretty sure a sassy black girl has already won this show. Who knows though; the only two I can really name who've won are last year's winner (stupid Melissa) and Guy Fieri (who I love, and I don't care what you think about that!). Anyway, Brianna needs to lighten the hell up, and remove the stick from her behind.

DAS: Darrell, or whatever you want to call him. This man is charming as hell. He needs to work on his on-camera skillz (because that's how he would spell it), but I think he has a chance. That chicken tonight looked great, even if he did have the easiest ingredient (lemonade? Some people have to make a savory dish from funnel cake and you just have to use lemons?).

Doreen: Well, she's gone now too. I don't think she deserved it but her answer to "What's your culinary point of view?" was pretty pathetic. To be honest, I don't know if I could properly answer that question at this point.

Dzintra: Ah, here we go. I can't stand this woman. First of all, and of course it's not her fault, but her name is freaking awful. I want to smack her parents for thinking it would be cute to make up an awful first name to go with their already-weird last name, Dzenis. I mean, really. It sounds like a comic book character, and not one that I would read about. If I look past her name, it's still bleak. I think she should have gone home last week because she didn't actually cook anything for the main challenge, but maybe I'm unsympathetic. I thought she should have gone home this week for her disjointed dish and her odd attitude while serving it. She's just unappealing all around, and now I've done her the favor of writing more about her than any other contestants.

Herb: Gotta love a guy whose name is a category of cooking ingredients. I usually get tired of these "healthy" cooks, but Herb presents healthy food in a way that isn't irritating or too in your face. I can see him having a Saturday morning show that no one watches as well.

Paul: Too boring for me to even comment.

Serena: Wow, she's just like Giada, except pretty. This girl is incredibly gorgeous and I'd love her voice, if she would slow down enough so I can hear it. I really do think that she can cook, as well. Maybe she can take over one of Giada's shows. Or maybe instead of "Everyday Italian" she can have "Every Other Day Italian" or "Every Five Minutes Italian?" I'm just waiting for the cleavage to come out.

Tom: Well, he's from San Francisco, therefore I have to root for him. He's scruffy and cute; I think Brad is the kind of guy that's pretty to look at, but Tom is the kind of guy you actually want to date. He seems fun. That said, well, that's all I can say. It's my only opinion of him. I'm hoping that soon I will have more thoughts on his actual food.

Winner prediction: Aarti.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Family Meal and More Good News

Today there were no pizza orders, but I did get to practice filleting fish for family meal. We had some sea bass and I filleted them, seasoned them, seared them, and finished them in the oven. The fish was really good. I went from, "I am so not a fish cook," to, "Maybe I am a fish cook!"

I also got my second 4.0 pin and certificate! The 4.0 pin is gold, and if you make honor roll without a 4.0, you get a silver one. I should have a silver one for the second quarter, but no one ever came by to announce them that quarter. Regardless of missing one pin, I very much enjoy having two gold ones.

The externship thing is still in process.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fun Day in Back of House

I know I said no one orders pizza, but we did make 12 of them for family meal today, with all different toppings. I think I'm getting pretty good at pizza. My favorite was the one that we used the garlic cream sauce on instead of marinara.

Today was really fun! I got to help out on the garde manger (salad) station since the guy doing it couldn't handle his orders, and then someone who works at the school actually did order a pizza! I put it in the woodfired oven and then finished it in a regular oven. Chef said it looked good, so I was pleased.

My review of El Taco Fresco made it into the Yelp weekly newsletter. In other good news, I think I have my externship all set up; I just have to make a couple of phone calls. It actually looks perfect for me, since it's a Chef Administrative Assistant job. I know I can do that! It's pretty much exactly what I wanted; something in a kitchen, but not so much with the stress and the crazy hours. I will update when I find out for sure.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No One Orders Pizza

That's right, no one orders pizza at Cafe Bleu. I was so excited to use a real pizza oven, and the only reason I got to do it once was that Chef let me practice one when service was over. It was really fun sliding the pizza in and watching it cook; I just wish I had more chances to do it today! Aside from cleaning for other people and helping other people prep, I had nothing to do for an hour and a half today.

I didn't really mind, but I'm definitely going for a more exciting station next week. You would think pizza would be the fun station! Even the soup station seemed to have more fun than me.

Tomorrow we are making a bunch of pizzas for family meal, so that should at least be fun. I want to come up with a pizza special that will actually get people to order some!

It really is amazing how much prep work there is compared to how long it takes to make a dish once it's all prepped. Prep takes two hours; making a dish takes five minutes. I guess I should have realized that by now but I just hadn't made the connection.

Monday, June 7, 2010

First Day in Back of House

Today was my first day in the kitchen at the restaurant. We're closed on Mondays, so it wasn't too bad. I chose pizza to be my first station, both because I love pizza and because I've never made pizza before.

Of course I screwed something up; I added too much water to the pizza dough that I was prepping for tomorrow. Chef and I fixed it and it was fine. Now we have extra dough, so for family meal (that's what we eat before we open for lunch) we get to have pizza, so it was almost a happy mistake! The red sauce was easy to make.

I'm excited to get creative with some fun pizzas this week. Pizza and soup are the only two stations that actually run specials, which means I might actually get to make the "pizza of the day" on the menu, instead of only having Pizza Margherita.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recap: Front of House

Today I was front server, and I had three tables pretty much at the same time. I think I did really well. Of course it took this long to finally be completely comfortable with serving, and now I'm going to the back of the house next week!

I did well on my final and I have an A going into the kitchen. Both classes are graded together, and no one in the kitchen currently has an A, so we'll see how my final grade turns out. I figure if I bust my ass in the kitchen and don't talk back to Chef I'll be fine. He's known for being a little stubborn.

Here's hoping my blog entries from the kitchen will be a little more exciting than the past few have been! The most exciting thing about today is that we had two new soups: carrot ginger, and cream of mushroom. I didn't get to try them but I really wanted to!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Large Groups at Restaurants

Can I just tell everyone who takes a large group to a restaurant to be nice to servers? Sure, they're (usually) getting a huge tip at the end of the whole thing, but if you order a potato-leek soup for your baby and first thing you demand is to tell us snidely that it should be put into a cup instead of the bowl it comes in, that puts us in a sour mood.

Today was pretty tough; my table of 12 arrived at 11AM when we open and stayed well past 12:30 when we close. They were there until at least 1PM.

Now I know what serving a big party is like.

I have my final tomorrow and then I'm done with front of house!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Final Week of Serving!

Well, I've begun my final week in the front of the house (hopefully)! We have three days left of serving, then we go back to the kitchen. Honestly, I'm nervous about that, since all we've heard for the past two weeks is Chef yelling at people.

The students in the kitchen had their practical exam today, and I don't think any of them did very well. We ate some of their food and it was not so great. I hope my team does better when we get back there!