Friday, May 15, 2009

The End Is In Sight!

To school that is!

I know, I know. Where the heck have I been? School, work. Work, school. It's been an amazing experience filled with the usual ups and downs but I wouldn't give it up for anything!

Graduation is June 12th and you will all be proud to know that at a minimum, I will graduate with a 93 average though I'm hoping for higher. Phase 3 (which is what I'm in now) counts for 50% of my grade and I've been kicking butt! I love working at Tersiguel's and the future is wide open.

My last class is June 8th. This is the big "cook off" I guess you could call it. We've been put into 5 teams where each team has to:

- Design a 6 course menu for 4 which includes a cheese course
- Stay within a budget of $50 per person ($200 total) wholesale
- Try to be local and seasonal
- AND prepare it for a panel of 4 judges. The judges are Chef Francois (owner of the school), Chef Sam (one of our pastry teachers), Chef R.J. Cooper of the restaurant Vidalia, and Chef Amy Brandewein of Fyve Restaurant and Lounge at the Ritz in Pentagon City (former student at L'Academie). I've been judged by sous chefs from the White House, famous chefs from France, and chefs from well known restaurants around the area. This is different because this is the big one. The last one.

So after MANY tweaks, we had a test run this past Monday at school. Thankfully my dishes only need minor adjustments based on commentaries from Chef Francois and Sam. As usual, I need to up the salt content in my food. My chef said not to worry, that skill comes with time and experience.

The menu:

1st course: Smoked Gazpacho with a Yellow Tomato Sorbet
This is a joint project between myself and J.J., the pastry student assigned to my team. I made a rustic version of the gazpacho and Chef Francois recommended that I make it a bit smoother to go with the more upscale menu we're presenting. A little more salt and some sourness is needed. I'm going to add lime juice to my recipe rather than up the red wine vinegar content. J.J. has been asked to adjust his sorbet recipe as it was a bit too sweet for a savory dish, but who knew that tomatoes make a delicious sorbet!

2nd course: Creamy Corn Ravioli with Shitakes
Ula's dish. This is fresh ravioli filled with a puree of corn and marscapone cheese. The sauce is also made with corn and it is topped with sauteed shitakes. Very tasty though I would try to find a way to thicken the filling. She is going to add some basil to the sauce to give it more color per the suggestion she received.

3rd course: Fish In Chips
Me again! This is a play on "fish and chips". My original idea involved layering disks of potato over the cod fish but getting them to stick didn't work out as planned so I'm going to the back up which I've made several times before. I'm wrapping each portion of cod fish in thin slices of potato, then frying them. This is placed on a Cajun remoulade sauce (French remoulade makes me think too much of tartar sauce and has no color) and topped with an herb salad.

4th course: Australian Lamb Chop with a 3 Bean Ragout
This is Nick's dish but he was out sick Monday so we have no idea what to expect. He said he's made it several times so we have to trust him. We have no idea how long his dish takes and what help he may need. I'm concerned because I know his past track record and... well... *sigh*

5th course: J.J. has found 3 very nice cheeses that we are going to present simply with a matching nibble. One is a goat, one is a sheep and the last is a cow's milk. Each has a covering of some sort (ash, herb, etc...) which will be the tie between them.

6th course: Chocolate and Vanilla Bavarian with a fruit sauce
J.J. to the rescue! He was going to do a roasted banana bavarian but Chef Francois and Sam voiced concerns back during the menu review that it might be considered a bit Wintry. This presentation is simple and soothing. Should be a nice end to a full meal.

And yes, I really need to sit down and start updating this poor blog more regularly. =)

Yes Kevin, I borrowed this text from the email I sent you. =)


E in MD said...

Glad to see you're doing well!

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