Quarter #3 (out of 4!) is well underway – the term started on tuesday, and I’ve already gone to 3 out of 4 of my classes. Here’s what the new semester brings:
1. Food and Beverage Operations – this is one of those lecture classes that all students (culinary and pastry) have to take. It’s a tad pointless for those of us wanting to be behind the scenes in the kitchen, but for down the road if I have my own place, it’ll be handy. It’s all about the front of house operations – staffing, dining room set up, etc. Meh. But, the part that interests me to no end is the fact that nearly HALF of the class is devoted to teaching us about wine! Seriously!! (it’s because the chef never writes the wine list or decides what to purchase, but rather it is the dining room manager that does this). By the end of the class, we’re told we’ll have a wine vocab that goes far beyond, “mmm, it’s yummy”. Yes, that was a quote. So far, F+B Ops gets an A for surprisingly fun content. This class is at 9am-12pm on Tuesday.
2. Cost Control – pardon my enthusiasm, but this class sucks. It’s all math (culinary math – costing, edible portions, figuring out what is a good deal and what isn’t, etc) and while important, is not the most exciting, especially from 6-9pm on Tuesday night. Blech.
3. European Cakes and Tortes – NOW we’re getting to the good stuff! Don’t ask my why this class is only 1 day a week (5 hours) as it needs more. The awesome thing about my kitchen classes now is they are all only for advanced pastry students, so no more of the kids from last term who really didn’t give a hoot about pastry, and didn’t know the most basic of basics which sort of holds everyone else up. So now, we get to do all kinds of stuff, pretty much everything in the syllabus is in french though. The way we roll is each week we do some mis en place (prep) for the next week, and do assembly of the stuff that was prepped the week before. Today, we made a coconut dacquoise, which is a round spiral of almond and coconut meringue, which we baked and will use next week for some sort of cake. We also made huge sheets of ladyfinger sponge (same as ladyfingers, but one big sheet), and out of our class of 15 we made 50 plain vanilla and chocolate sponge cakes, also for next week. The fun thing about this class is that we’re learning how to do things in ‘the real world’ now, rather than the classic ways we were taught last term. This means plenty of awesome short cuts.
example – to make a classic genoise (sponge cake that gets its volume from whipped eggs), it used to take about 20min of very careful steps, along the way there were plenty of places to screw up and let the cake volume deflate. Now? Dump every last ingredient into the mixing bowl, along with a small (carefully measured) blob of a vaseline-like emulsifier called “h22), which somehow allows the batter to work. No h22? no cake. It’s like magic – and only available commercially. Ah, tricks of the trade.
Last class – Artisanal Breads. I have this at 7am tomorrow morning (and 7am Friday morning) and other than hearing that we will make baguettes on both days every week (mmm!), not sure what this class entails. So with that, should probably head to bed – that 5.30am alarm comes way too soon. But so far, I’m loving these classes (except math late in the evening) and i bet this term will fly by.