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    Béarnaise sauce & mayo

    Practical - grilled salmon with béarnaise sauce with a white wine and shallot reduction

    Result - salmon grilled perfectly, but my béarnaise sauce separated when I tried to reheat it for serving



    It's been a very busy couple of weeks and unfortunately I haven't been very good at updating my blog.

    To fill you in on what's happening, two of our chefs for basic cuisine left the school - one was fired and the other was offered a position elsewhere. Both chefs had well over ten years of experience teaching at the school. The chef we have know is new and is slowly adjusting to the class, but after following two chefs who have been teaching as long as they have, it's just not the same. According to Student Services it's unusual for our class to have three chefs for the demo. From what I've heard from other students, a new chef typically sits in on the class for three months before starting to teach. But because the school was undergoing some reconstruction, they had to fill the position immediately and the only person to do so was the new chef. We were all sad to see the two chefs leave mostly because they had extensive experience and always pushed us to become better. Even though the new chef is trying his best to fill their shoes, it's not nearly the same and a lot of students are upset at the poor quality of instruction (we are constantly unable to see what is going on up front because the new chef doesn't adjust the cameras). A couple of times already we've been shown how to do something in the demo class, but in the practical the supervising chef (we've had 5 different chefs for the practical class) will either tell us we're doing it incorrectly or that we've missed a step. It's especially hard when the supervising chef is talking down to you for not knowing how to do it when simply we weren't even shown it in the demo. One of the chefs who supervised our class a couple of days ago is an intermediate chef. I'm not sure what the situation was, but he was very mean and condescending to myself and a few other students in the class. I get that as a chef you can't be too lenient on your students because you want them to think for themselves, but at the same time we're all in a basic cooking program, which means that we're still learning and are not yet familiar with the techniques. Because of this we will have more questions regarding the technique than the intermediate/superior students. I was very upset after that class and didn't feel like I was being treated fairly; a couple of my fellow classmates also revealed the next day that the chef treated them in a similar manner. My feeling is that the chef was upset that he had to supervise our class and he took out his frustration on the students. Either way, we're all frustrated with the fact that we've had five different chefs for basic cuisine when we should have had only one!

    On another note, we also had our midterm evaluations with the basic cuisine and pastry chefs. They both said that I'm doing well, which was good to hear. Although the review for cuisine was general because of the fact that we've had so many different chefs. I also told them that I find it difficult to do a technique well when we are under tight time constraints. Especially because we are all learning new techniques everyday, it's hard to master them in one shot. Both chefs said that with time I will become more comfortable and will feel more relaxed during the practical. I hope this is true because with each day the practicals are getting harder and harder. I also asked about get our marks to date, but both chefs said they cannot give it to us and that they will be revealed at the end of the basic program. My argument to that is how do we know where we stand? The chefs said that is why the midterm evaluations are held - it gives us the opportunity to get feedback from the chefs to know how we're doing. Because they both had positive comments, my marks are above the passing grade. Although the comments are helpful, I would have preferred to know my grade so that I can gauge how well I'm doing relative to the class.

    This week we will have our midterm examination for basic cuisine. It will be in a multiple choice format.


    Short Course on Canapés 

    Short courses that are offered to the public by LCB are free for students. Yesterday, there was a course on canapés, so I decided to attend.

    Recipes prepared by the Chefs:
    - tomatoes and strawberries with basil chantilly cream served on a slice of toasted pain de mie
    - goat cheese chantilly cream with walnuts and apricots served on top of pâté brisee
    - fish roe placed on top of a buttered pain de mie slice and garnished with chervil
    - smoked salmon served on a buttered pain de mie and garnished with dill
    - goat cheese and herbs spread onto a crepe and sliced
    - hard boiled quail egg with a slice of tomato and asparagus topped with some tomato paste and served on a pain de mie slice

    Overall, I had a great time! It was interesting to see the flavour combinations and how the chefs presented the canapés.


    Day 20 - BC Demo & Practical 

    - whole poached chicken served with a white creamy sauce
    - sauce espagnole (red wine and veal stock thickened with cooked flour)
    - demi-glacé: red wine and veal stock thickened by reduction
    - bechamel sauce (base)
    - Mornay sauce (bechamel + cheese)
    - soubise sauce (bechamel + onion compote)
    - cream sauce (bechamel + cream)

    - whole poached chicken served with creamy sauce and rice pilaf

    We had to trusse the chicken using a long needle and butcher string (this was not my finest moment especially for someone who's never trussed a chicken with a needle before. After asking a ton of questions to the Chef, the chicken was finally ready.

    We places the chicken into a cast iron pot and filled it with cold water. A bouquet garni was added as well and was the whole thing was brought to a boil. The heat was then turned down to a simmer and the garniture aromatique (celery, carrots, leeks, onions and cloves) were added to the pot.

    While the chicken was poaching, we prepared the cream sauce, which in essence is a gravy with cream (however I would never say this to the Chefs, because the sauce is more refined than gravy). Anyway, the sauce had a great consistency - it was shiny and thick enough to cover the chicken.

    Next up was the rice pilaf. For the rice pilaf, you first suer the onions until translucent and then add the rice. The rice is coated with the fat from the pan, which is usually butter because it has a lot of flavour. Once the grains are shiny, you then add cold water. Bring the water to a boil (most important thing, because I missed this step and my rice cooked for double the amount of time and also turned out sticky), and then add the bouquet garni. Place the pot into the oven set at 400F and bake for 18-20 minutes. Once it's done, use a fork to fluff the rice. Add some butter and continue to use the fork to combine it with the rice.

    The Chef said my chicken was cooked well and the sauce had a great consistency. The only negative feedback he gave me was to season the sauce with a little more salt. The rice pilaf was tastes after the chicken because I wasn't able to serve it on time. And like I mentioned above the rice turned out sticky because the sugars in the rice softened as it sat in the cold water too long before finally reaching the boiling temperature in the oven.


    Day 19 - BC Demo & Practical

    - Dover Sole cooked with mussels, mushrooms, Mantane shrimps in a creamy white wine and fish fumet sauce
    - white chicken stock
    - brown veal and chicken stock
    - fish fumet (fish stock)
    - basic tomato sauce

    - Dover Sole with mussels and a creamy white wine sauce