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Diary: November 20, 2002

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Monday, November 18

During lunch today, Chef Francois came to ask Chef Somchet (who was sitting at my table) a series of questions about the flours we use for pasta at school. We always use regular unbleached all purpose flour. Apparently he made pasta this past weekend for a special wine dinner and had a hard time getting it to turn out properly. He said he thought bleached flour would work better and asked Chef Somchet to make sure we had plenty in the future. She looked a bit mystified as he walked away but agreed to get some of the bleached stuff in on the next order.

Pasta happened to be on the menu, and I happened to be the one from my team to make it. I also happened to be the one to serve it to Chef Francois, since he too was assigned to my team. Naturally, I made it with the regular unbleached flour (I’d made it before lunch service). I honestly think the pasta was the best batch I’d made yet, it was so thin and even and fresh, but I was still a bit nervous about serving it after the flour diatribe. Chef Francois brought back his plate completely cleaned, though, and complimented my pasta-making skills. I guess the flour is acceptable after all.

After school, I drove down to Colorado Kitchen and interviewed Chef Gillian Clark for my paper due Friday. She was warm and kind, and seemed to enjoy chatting about where she’d cooked before and who has served as her mentor. She has worked with many of the important female chefs in the DC area, including Ann Cashion and Susan McCreight Lindenborg. She spoke frankly about why she situated her restaurant in that particular neighborhood, and explained some of the reasons behind choices like not offering takeout and not acquiring a liquor license. I thought I would be there for only a half hour or so but we ended up hanging out and chatting for about an hour. I asked for a tour of the tiny kitchen (the walk-in is so small I immediately dubbed it a step-in). She actually is short-staffed and interested in an extern. Despite the fact that the kitchen is so tiny and the menu so limited, I found myself thinking seriously about the possibility. I will return Wednesday night to trail and see what I think. Going there is an absolute guarantee of a positive work environment, a chance to try my hand at every single job in the kitchen, and an opportunity to prepare for many different types of services.

Tuesday, November 19

I woke up in the middle of the night last night feeling sick to my stomach. Getting sick did not improve things much, and this morning I felt quite green-gilled and exhausted. I dragged my ass to school figuring I’d sit through the demo and then depart, but I couldn’t even make it through the whole demo. I kept having to go to the student lounge and lay down for a few minutes to regain my composure. I tried to choke down some tea but gave up after a few sips. I don’t know what happened to me, I felt perfectly fine when I went to bed last night and had been pretty much healthy by the end of the weekend from last week’s sickness.

Today’s menu included raw oysters. I do not recommend working with them while nauseous. I had to ask that they be passed around me when Chef Peter sent them around.

I left school around 9:30am and came home. Spent most of the day asleep.

Wednesday, November 20

Mostly better today, good enough to attend a full day of school and trail at Colorado Kitchen afterwards. I just got home from the restaurant. I was trained on the garde manger station, which also staffs the fryer and does a few other assorted tasks for the other cook on duty. I’ve enjoyed things about all of the kitchens I have visited, but I think I liked this one the best of all. Chef Gillian spent much of the evening chatting with me, telling me amusing stories and asking me questions about the program at L’academie.

I am still trailing at Ortanique on Friday, but I did ask Chef Gillian at the end of the night if she was interested in having me as an extern. She said she definitely was, if I wanted to go there. I promised to contact her early next week to talk about details.

There’s more from today, including a really cool cheese tasting and presentation by Fairway’s cheese expert Steven Jenkins, but it will have to wait for Sunday’s post.

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a really cool cheese tasting and presentation by Fairway’s cheese expert Steven Jenkins, but it will have to wait for Sunday’s post.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Malawry, given that there has been a recent thread on the Cooking forum, could you please elaborate on pasta making, how to get it really thin, what you are looking for before you run it through the rollers, etc?

I have been having trouble making pasta (I have an Atlas). Assuming you make more pasta than you can run through the rollers at one time, do you run one portion through tinner and thinner and thinner and then move on to the next portion?

Details, here, or on Pasta Machine thread, please!!!!

P. S. You inspired Diana (12) and I to make mayo a couple of days ago. We are now wondering why we ever purchased the stuff? Thanks.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I have been having trouble making pasta (I have an Atlas).  Assuming you make more pasta than you can run through the rollers at one time, do you run one  portion through tinner and thinner and thinner and then move on to the next portion?

That's the way I do it, snowangel. It took me a while to get the hang of it, and the key thing is you have to flour both sides of the sheet after every successive roll through the machine. Otherwise it sticks and gets weird.

Malawry, congrats on the great pasta batch.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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Snowangel, the biggest thing you are looking for is an even, smooth, soft, unsticky rectangle of dough. Mamster is right that you need to flour a lot to begin with. At school, we were taught to use the machine to "knead" the dough. After we mix it up and let it rest, we run it through the machine on the largest setting many many times. After each run through we dust both sides, fold it in thirds, and send it through again. When it is soft and smooth and uniformly yellow we then start taking it down. It's partly a "feel" thing that's much easier to get if you see somebody do it and then try it yourself a few times. There's a significant difference between the first pasta I did at school and what I did last week. Last week's was partly better since it is cooler now, and the dough was therefore more cooperative.

Sorry, DStone. I can't help it if I'm proud of my pasta.

And Fat Guy, I always like to keep 'em coming back for more. :biggrin:

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