Thursday, March 24, 2011

My first exam

I had my first practical, hands-on test last night. I was nervous going into it, even though I knew most of the items we would be preparing and had stayed home on Tuesday to practice.

When I got to the exam, we were told to prepare the items that we knew about, but also we had to do vinaigrette, which was not surprising, and also various cuts of vegetables. Cut size is important to ensure even cooking. I’ve heard of chefs coming through with a ruler to make sure they are all exact sizes. Luckily, I did not have that! We had to cut both carrots and celery in the 3 different sizes that he requested.
The other items on the test were: cream puffs (both the dough and the cream filling), hollandaise sauce, rice pilaf, boiled potatoes that have to be cut in a certain way called tournee (like a football with 7 sides). They should end up looking like this (mine only slightly did, a definite practice item for me). I’m not sure what the purpose of doing this is, other than looking pretty.

picture from

Like I said, I was nervous going into the test and I’m not sure my nerves ever went completely away until he tasted everything. There were a few things I did wrong, but he said they were fixable, so while I got points off, all was not lost. My worst thing was the cream puffs. I knew when I was piping them that they would not puff well, but at that point, I couldn’t fix them. He told me how to alleviate that problem in the future, so I’ll be making those again – people are going to get sick of me making cream puffs!

The highlight of the night was my rice pilaf. He tasted it and said it was the best one he had tasted all night. There’s a process to it (not just dumping rice and water into a pan and boiling it), but you also have to make sure you have the seasonings right. I guess I did – yay!

So, tonight is back to regular class where we will be learning new recipes, new techniques. I’m beginning to feel a little more confident in class that I can really do this!

The very odd thing about all of this is how many personal chef and teaching classes I’m getting asked to do! Where were all these people when I wasn’t gone from my house 18 hours a day??

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