You’ve been asking, so here’s my ode to culinary school leftovers. Or more appropriately, my eulogy for our leftovers. Why? Because we throw them out. Every. Last. Drop.
At least, that’s what the school wants us to do. It sucks, but I can kind of see their point. See, one class we’re all taking right now is Sanitation and Safety. The thing we learned on Day 1 is this concept called “The Danger Zone”, which is all temperatures between 4 – 60 (Celcius). In the Danger Zone, bacteria separate and multiply every 20 minutes. So, if food is taken out of the fridge (which obviously needs to be cooler than 4 degrees), as soon as it’s been between 4-60 for 20 minutes, bacteria divide and multiply. Which means after 20 min there is 1 bacteria, 40 min = 2 bacteria, 80 min = 4 bacteria. Wait an hour or two and you’ve got a swarm of bacteria growing and multiplying. Blech. Ask my one Chef what she thinks of Thanksgiving dinner and she’ll make you want to hurl (unless, of course, you do it her way and debone the bird, cut it down into thin slices, let it cool super fast, all to be able to get it into the fridge before 20min). As if any of us do that….and I don’t know about you guys but I’ve never gotten sick from turkey dinner at home. But in a professional setting, rules are rules (thankfully…).
So about that tangent….The Danger Zone is basically the main reason for foodborne illness. And most of the time, it is from foods taking too long to cool down (ie. making a pot of soup and letting it cool down on the stovetop for a few hours before putting it in the fridge means literally thousands of bacteria growing!!). The other main reason is for keeping foods out of refrigeration for too long, and then eating it later. Which makes sense then, that we’re not allowed to bring food home. Not hot food, anyways (once I start my pastry and bread courses next term, we get to take that stuff home because it’s all room temperature food anyways).
However, last week we made Quiche Lorraine (quiche with gruyere cheese and bacon = awesome) and when the Chef wasn’t looking, my partner and I beelined it for the Saran Wrap, wrapped up our quiche, and bolted for our lockers before he could notice.
Yeah, it’s a waste….especially since everything we make is so damn good. I wasn’t sad to throw away things like pots of bechamel sauce….because it’s not like I was going to eat it. But today, to throw away our saffron-infused Risotto Milanese, our fantastic gnocchi (little pillows of potatoy goodness), and worst of all, our fettucini carbonara (with the homemade pasta we’d just made!!!) wasn’t fun. Those things were all fantastic.
But, we don’t make huge quantities of anything, so really the waste isn’t massive. Most recipes will have a fairly large yield. For example, the homemade pasta we made today was to make 1 kg (2.2lb) of pasta dough….but we divided the recipe by 4. Most recipes we’ll divide by 2, 4, or sometimes even 8. So in the end, we usually just end up making 1 serving of each. Not quite enough to ship to Oklahoma City, San Francisco, or anywhere else. Sorry guys 🙂 (But check back in July….hello take-home pastries!!!)