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Diary: December 8, 2002


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#1 Malawry

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 07:02 PM

Thursday, December 5

No class; snow day

Friday, December 6

This weekend is one of the Chef Francois signature “Christmas Great” dinners. In addition, my class is catering a holiday party for the volunteer assistants who help out at recreational L’academie classes. Missing class yesterday due to snow did not bode well for us, and Chef Peter had warned us on Wednesday that a snow day would equal a “world of hurt” on Friday.

We arrived ready to crank out as much food as we could for the dinner and the party. There was no demo. I worked on trimming onglet and flank steak, making jerk paste for jerk chicken, folding spanikopita, cutting and frying plantain chips, and so on. Lunch was served family-style, and we fed the pastry students (who were busy with all the pastry for the Sunday event). They brought us chocolate-chip cookies for our dessert. It’s funny how we learn testy doughs and egg-based concoctions every day that go into desserts, but we all get excited when presented with basic desserts like chocolate chip cookies. I wonder which desserts take back French people to their childhood days like chocolate chip cookies take back many Americans.

During lunch, I mentioned to Jonathan that I’d written more about him in my most recent entry. Melanie asked me why I’ve never written about her and semi-jokingly asked me to describe her in this diary. Melanie lived in Lake Tahoe for some time and looks something like a California outdoorsy blonde, complete with a fleece vest and trail-hiking water bottle. She likes to party (she developed a reputation for this early on, sealed by her serving mojitos for her herb presentation on mint). She has some history with working in kitchens and is more efficient than I am as a result. I enjoy working with her; I found we developed a nice creative energy when we did market baskets together some time ago, and I like her sense of how tastes go together. Over the past few months, she’s become good friends with Drew; she chided him for returning Kitchen Confidential to me when he admitted he only scanned parts of it. She’s externing at Butterfield 9.

After working without a break as efficiently as possible, things got done rapidly. We even wrapped up a little early, around 3:10pm. I wonder if Chef Peter shortened the menu for Sunday to allow us to get out on time, because even after six months in the kitchen we’re not really able to do two days’ worth of work in one and finish early. I’d expected to be at school at least an hour late.

Sunday, December 8

Today’s party started at noon, so we had plenty to do to get everything together in time. I worked with Chris on wrapping pork tenderloin in brioche dough and setting up garnishes and sauces for the pork and the egg rolls. We somehow ended up agreeing that he’d serve the pork in brioche and I’d handle the egg rolls. Egg rolls are really a two-person job because they are so popular; one to handle serving and frying, one to cut them in half on the bias and load them onto platters. Jessie came over to help me with the egg rolls, for which I was greatly appreciative.

Chef Somchet’s recipe for egg rolls is legendary. Those who knew Chef Somchet immediately started hitting the egg roll platters, but those who hadn’t seen the egg rolls before didn’t seem enthusiastic until they tasted their first one. The egg rolls started flying off the platters more and more rapidly, and Jessie and I had a hard time keeping up. We developed pretty good communication after a while, and managed to keep the platters filled and looking attractive. I’ve catered enough by now to know that I have to pay attention and keep on top of things, and I’m finding myself less annoyed by catering than I was the first few times I did it. Jessie seems to be feeling the same way about catering.

Chef Peter’s wife and children came to the party, so we had a chance to meet them and check the little ones out. At one point towards the end of the event, Chef Peter picked up his toddler son and held him up high over his head. The boy immediately drooled on Chef Peter’s face. The funniest part of this was that Chef Peter didn’t respond to this at all; he treated it as a fairly everyday occurrence. Most of us saw this happen, and we laughed pretty hard about it. Chef Peter has joked once or twice that his home life is mostly about drool, but witnessing this personally was another matter entirely.

As we were packing up from the party, Chef Somchet called all of us to her and said she had an announcement. She told us she was leaving tomorrow for a holiday in New Zealand (where her sister lives) and that she would not see us again until we entered Phase 2 of our education. I am sorry she will not be with us for our last week and our last tests, as are most of my classmates. We all talk like her, especially when we are in the pastry kitchen. We will miss having her around for the wrap-up of classwork. I wonder what pastry we will learn over the next week, if any.

Egg Rolls

1c ground chicken or pork; use shiitake mushrooms for vegetarian rolls
1c Soaked, drained cellophane noodles
Grated ginger
Grated garlic
Soy sauce
Sea salt
1c julienned carrot
1c julienned green cabbage
Egg roll skins
Egg wash
Peanut oil
Sweet chili sauce

Cook meat in nonstick pan over high heat without stirring until browned on bottom; stir and break up and complete cooking. Add noodles and remove from heat. Add ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sea salt. Chill in ice bath until lukewarm and add carrot and cabbage. Toss and adjust seasoning. Fill rolls and seal with egg wash; fry in peanut oil until golden. Serve with sweet chili sauce.

#2 BigMac

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Posted 08 December 2002 - 10:56 PM

As a parent of a toddler, I can confirm that drool (and other bodily liquids at one point or another) on ones face is a regular occurence that you quickly learn to lose squemishness over.

#3 katbalou

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Posted 09 December 2002 - 06:01 AM

dear malawry,
glad to see you are doing so well with your schooling. keep up the good work, and i hope you will keep us posted on the externship.
kat

#4 jojo7

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Posted 09 December 2002 - 10:00 PM

Hello Malawry,

First let me say I've been a long time lurker here on egullet but have never registered. I specifactly(sp) did so to tell you how much I have enjoyed your diary.

I read from the beggining until the end of Nov. in two days! My better half being out of town for a week gave me lots of lazy time, as I call it.

I loved seeing the difference in your confidence and skill level between then and now. Wow!

I'm retired from the resturant biz since 95, after 18 years in different capasities ie. waitress, cocktials, bartender, and my finial 6 months cooking in a small Itlalian place.

I'm sorry to say for me the kitchen experience was bitter sweet. I loved it because it was a small kitchen, I was able to do everything, and I really learned alot that I use to this day!
I was at the sautee station on the weekends, at night, alebit always in the weeds!

Down side.... 2 very tempremental chef's who were constantly.....screaming, cussing, and throwing things.

So as the saying goes, The heat was to hot so I got out of that kitchen.

Best wishes to you.....and I look forward to more of your diary and maybe one day reading your reviews in the New York Post or possible if you change your mind .....eating a wonderful meal in your resturant!

PS. I don't want to write a bio at this time. :wub:

#5 Rachel Perlow

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 07:02 AM

PS. I don't want to write a bio at this time.  :wub:

That's OK - not everyone has one. Most people wait till they're completely addicted to eGullet. :wink:

#6 Ron Johnson

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 07:30 AM

Most people wait till they're completely addicted to eGullet. :wink:

I don't know what you're talking about. I can stop using egullet anytime I want. Really, I can. Really. :unsure:

#7 KateW

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 08:16 AM

But why would you want to, right?

#8 Suzanne F

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 09:53 AM

Rochelle, another great post! I know exactly how you feel about Chef Somchet (and talking like her, too :biggrin: ). An instructor like that makes the whole experience better.

So did you take the opportunity to play in the snow on Thursday? I was riding the train down during the storm and it looked so beautiful outside (but boy, was I glad I was inside! :wink: ).

#9 jojo7

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 11:45 AM

Rachel, it's to late for me I'm afriad. I have a HUGH addiction to anything food related! :wacko:

Thank you for this wonderful site which provides my ever-hungry fixes. And the best part is, that it's quite painless...unless of course you spend to much time over on The Abalic thread. :laugh:

Edited by jojo7, 10 December 2002 - 12:27 PM.


#10 Malawry

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Posted 10 December 2002 - 04:02 PM

Welcome, Jojo7. I promise not to harass you about posting a bio. Even if you don't want to, I hope you get involved in the boards. Your experiences on both sides of the kitchen should make your voice a great addition to eGullet. Welcome!

Suzanne, I did not play in the snow. I have in the past, but I spent my snow day cooking, socializing with my partner, and then helping him dig out his car. Later, I went downtown to sign some paperwork at Ortanique, and then I did some grocery shopping for the holiday baking we hosted this past weekend.

I keep wanting to type Somchetisms into my diary posts, but they're only funny if you hear the inflection and the accent along with it: "You knead the dough, and then you chill the dough, and then you bake it, and DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!" and "Put in your mind!" just don't seem as amusing in written form. Alas.