I’m switching things up a bit this week!
I’ll give you the low down on what we did this week in class, but since I have officially been in school for 2 WHOLE MONTHS I have been reflecting on what I thought it was going to be like vs what it really is like to be in culinary school. So we’ll chat a bit about that.
This week for some reason felt like a doozy. We had Monday off for the holiday and Tuesday and Wednesday were exam days for our beverage class. For the exam we had to create our own cocktail and present it to the class, we had to make 8 of the 30 classic cocktails (memorized) while chef watched our technique, our recipe and our presentation, and we took a written exam. Not to toot my own horn, but ya girl got an A+ on her final….I think I was destined to be a bartender. But actually I kinda really loved it and am going to look into doing it on the side!
Thursday and Friday were the first 2 days of our next set of classes which is a sensory analysis class.
It’s a food science class were we do experiments and essentially run a test kitchen. On Thursday we set the basics for class, talking about the scientific method, and I was having flash backs to 8th grade science class.
But then we started experimenting. With grilled cheese. We all made the exact same grilled cheese recipe and studied the differences- in appearance, in aroma, in texture, in taste and in flavor (and yes, taste and flavor are 2 different things, as I just learned). We talked about what could cause the changes in the grilled cheeses even though they were the exact same recipe. And then each group made a creative grilled cheese- my team made a tomato aioli, a 4 cheese blend with basil, in an attempt to create a grilled cheese/tomato soup flavor profile. We used everyone’s grilled cheeses to conduct a sensory analysis, again identifying the texture, aroma, flavor, etc.
Friday we got a bit more in depth with the experiments.
One of the experiments we did was with rice pilaf- every group made the same rice pilaf recipe, but using different equipment. So one group made it with a rice cooker, one group made it in a sautee pan, one group made it just as the recipe calls for which is in a sautee pan and then finished off in the oven. From there, we analyzed the differences. The one made in the sautee pain was crunchy, while the one made in the rice cooker was a smooth buttery consistency, and the one made in the pressure cooker had more intense flavors. We talked about why all of these things happened, and then how you could counterbalance the imperfections if, let’s say, you were super busy in a restaurant and only had a sautee pan and had to make the rice pilaf in the sautee pan. What would you do? Add more water.
So that’s basically the gist of how we conduct experiments in class, what we learn from them and why we are even learning these things! I can totally see how this will make us better cooks, not only with how to develop the best recipe, but how to think on your feet and solve a problem in the kitchen.
And now to the dirty deets…..
Lol jk. But there are a few things I have come to learn in the past few months that “come with the job” of being in culinary school.
- You will do an insane amount of dishes. Like, an insane amount. I come home and my hands are so dry from being over heat and then in cleaning solutions all day and I don’t want to even look at another dirty dish.
- There is a large amount of work that is done outside of the classroom. While all of the hands on instruction is done during class, there is a lot of studying and preparing and work that is done at home, so that when you come into class you have a good idea of what you are to be doing.
- You will constantly be full and trying new things. Tasting and evaluating and doing sensory analyses are a HUGE part of school, so you are constantly tasting and trying what you made in class. For example, on Thursday, I had to eat 16 different grilled cheese samples, and I had to eat the whole sample, because when you are closely evaluating it, you take one bite and evaluate the texture and focus on that. And then you take another bite and evaluate the taste and flavor and focus on those. And then take another bite and focus on the overall balance of the flavors. So for something like that, it is impossible to just take one small bite and move on.
- You work extremely closely with your classmates. Nearly everything you do in class is done in a group. And to be honest, this has been a challenge for me. I am a control freak, and a perfectionist when my grade and learning depends on it. So entrusting 18 year olds with something I will ultimately be graded and judge on, has been tough for me.
- You start to embrace your bad assery and it forces you to become more confident. Everything in the kitchen is fast paced, and loud and and hands on. And there’s no escaping it. One minute you are flipping something on the line, while another minute you are scrubbing tons of dishes in the dish pit and then you are being questioned by a chef with a tall hat and loud voice about how you did something to make sure you did it correctly. And at the end of the day you walk out of the kitchen smelling like oil and fish and garlic and onions, feeling like a bad ass and a little less intimidated and a little more confident than you were the day before.
To read about what else we have been up to in culinary school, click here!
Thanks so much for reading!