We are onto our third rotation of classes this week!
Monday and Tuesday were spent taking our practical exam and written exam for baking and pastry. For our exam, we had to make baguettes, biscuits, cookies, muffins, challah and dinner rolls. We were graded on the overall product as well as our technique of shaping and scoring and mixing and all that jazz.
On Wednesday, we switched to our “beverages” class.
I have been super excited about this class since we started school, and it is SO much fun! For starters, our classroom is amazing. It has a full bar that goes around the entire room with liquor and beer and wine displayed and backlit. We also have a full coffee station with a professional espresso maker. And the best part- we can make whatever coffee drink for ourselves whenever we want. #dreamy
We started the first day by talking about why future chefs need to know about drinks. Why they need to know how to bartend and how to make a good coffee. Restaurants make very very little profit off of the food you order, but they make a TON of money off of the drinks you order. So for one, it is for profit. Secondly, the pairing of alcohol and food is very important. Alcohol can help bring out flavors in the food, another layer of the “symphony” of flavors, as my chef said. On Wednesday we started out with coffee. We learned the different names of different coffee drinks, how beans are produced, that arabica coffee is the best kind of coffee, and robusta coffee is of way lesser quality. We learned that low fat milks froth better than higher fat milks, and how to work the oh-so-intimidating massive espresso machine.
Thursday was mixology.
It made all my dreams of being a swift bartender come true. Minus the swift part. We learned the 4 different methods of production- shake and strain, stir and strain, ice pour down and speed shake. Every mixed drink calls for one of these four methods of production as well as a specific size glass. We also covered the set up of a bar, the juices used for mixers, the garnishes used to finish off a drink, and all of the “traditional” mixed drinks.
But what was probably the coolest thing we did was “deconstruct” a drink. The 4 main components of a drink are sweet, sour, heat and bitter. So this is how it went: we used whiskey sour as the example. First we tasted whiskey alone, and then we tasted the sour (a sweet lemon/lime mixture). Alone, the whiskey was “hot” and the sour, well, sour. Then, we made the drink and tasted them together. The sour balanced out the heat, and it was like the two flavors were working in unison to “work” and create balance. THEN we added another layer- we added bitters to one whiskey sour, and grenadine (sweet) to another. And it was another example of building a symphony- all of the different flavors were working together to create balance. To see what it tasted like when it was out of balance, we “broke” it. Added too much bitters to the one and too much sweet to the other. And it was SO COOL. It was like a triangle went from being perfectly 2-D to one point of the triangle popping up into 3-D and being too prominent. To fix it, we added sweet to the bitter drink and bitter to the sweet drink, and it went back to being well balanced. This is something that is super important in creating recipes too, to make sure that the flavors are balanced and creating a pretty symphony. I don’t know about you but I think that is pretty dang neat.
We had class on Friday this week, and talked all about whiskeys and liqueurs.
… and tasted a ton of them. At 7 am. That was a bit rough. To build our skills as “professional tasters”, we did a sensory analysis test. There were 20 different scents in oil form, and you had to try and identify what that sense was. And it was so hard to do! You would smell a smell that you knew you knew, but couldn’t find the word to match the smell. Buuuut we learned after the fact, that that was the point. One side of your brain deals with scents, while the other deals with words. So the skill that we are building is creating a bridge from one side of the brain to the other to enable us to find the word for a scent or a taste to match what it is. Pretty neat!
One day in class chef was talking about how the other people in culinary school, and chefs, are our tribe. They’re the people that get just as excited as I do about flavors, and smells and tastes and figuring out how to make them compliment one another. They find joy in creating something delicious, and bringing joy to other people through making something so delicious for them it rocks their world. They’re the people that go to bed thinking about what they’re going to have for breakfast and wake up thinking about what they’re going to make for dinner. And it is SO fun to be surrounded by people that understand why I get so jazzed up about food, and in return, get equally as jazzed up.
Thanks so much for reading!! Next week will be lots more info on drinks, so stay tuned!
See more behind the scenes of what it is like to go to culinary school on my instagram!