Post 3 – Day 2: More complicated in the larder section!

I am writing this on the train on my way home.
Today was tougher that the previous 2 days. Same service from 5 pm to 10.
Now I am in charge of the lardons section and I have to be independent on my duties:

  • set the mise en place of my station
  • plating entrees
  • prepared ingredients for the next day/service
  • move the hot plates from the oven when the chefs required them saying “Yes chef!”.

Yesterday chef C. explained me and showed me how to plate the entrees and helped me while I was doing that. But today I have to do it perfectly. This was important to show them that I learned what they taught me and don’t do the same mistake. Unfortunately it happened. I splashed a lake of oil on the plate while I was plating the herrings. Something that cannot be fixed by dry the oil with a towel… Shit. Chef K. was watching me and suggest me to dry the herrings on a towel before plating them. Thanks…
Furthermore in the kitchen you have to be fast. They told me about 4-5 times during the service.
They also told me many times to keep my bench and fridge clean and organized. When some ingredient for the mise en place is going to finish prepared it quickly.
Tomorrow I will do the same, I suppose. I have to be faster and not making mistakes.

Notes. My mise en place consist of:
before service (between 5 pm to around 6.30):

  • prepared the baguettes
  • place the plates in the oven at 85°

on the bench:

  • 2 single ramekins of tomato concasse, 1 big for the main section
  • 1 ramekin each of: slides cornichons, minced chives, capers
  • 1 container with olive oil + brush
  • 1 container with clean spoons
  • 1 container of cornichons
  • 1 container with shallots + parsley + olive oil
  • 1 container with rocket
  • 1 container with julienne apples
  • 1 container with sliced fennel
  • baguettes for the terrines
  • 2 empty bowls for preparing the salads

in the fridge:

  • terrines
  • sliced carpaccio, horseradish cream, blueberries sauce
  • in the common area:
  • olive oil, pepper
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Post 2 – Day 1: Larder section

Today has been the first official day of my 4 week “job experience”.
At 5 pm I was there, I went to get changed in the store room where I left my uniform. My hat was gone. F***! So the chef told me not to leave them because it often happens. So I was allowed to work without the hat, since I have very short hairs.
C, One of the French chef asked me to I start preparing the amuse-bouche as last Friday in the pastry section. Then the head chef asked me to prepare some ingredients for a new dessert recipe. Surprisingly after 30 minutes he told me to go in the main kitchen and start working in the larder section, coordinated by C.
What I did:

  • prepared the plates in the oven (lobster and main plates, casseroles)
  • prepared the plates when the orders are called by saying: “Yes, chef!”
  • always say “behind” while you’re walking in the kitchen
  • learned how to plate some entrees: beef carpaccio, herring, terrine board
  • chopped parsley
  • minced garlic
  • learned how to organise the lardon section
  • work clean tidy and fast

C. taught me some useful tips: when you start a job, give you a time and try to challenge yourself to finish by that deadline; next time decrease the time.

Notes:

  • beef carpaccio plating: carpaccio, pepper, horseradish sauce, shallots sauce, vegetable garnish, salad + fennel +cranberry sauce, olive oil
  • herring: potato salad, herring, onions, carrots, 6 relish, cornichons on the top, pepper, olive oil
  • terrine board: 3 slices of bread, 2 slices pork terrine, 2 slices pig’s head brawn, pork rilette on bread slice with cornichon, brush olive oil

Post 0 – The preview

Let’s start this blog where I can share my work experience in restaurant kitchen.

But let’s start from the beginning. July 2007: at 25 I got my master degree in computer science. After 2 months I started working as programmer / software developer for an IT company (obviously). Since I moved out of my house I had to start cooking my dinners. I’ve always been a good eater, since my mother fed me with a lot of “good healthy” (in her opinion) food. From that moment I started being interested in improve my cooking. At first I only have to cook something edible. Then the “geek” came out and I wanted to learn how to make tasty food. That means that I started baking and making desserts. Slowly, in these last 3 years that interest became a real passion (someone called it obsession).

In 2009, after 2 years in the same company I had the crazy idea to quit my job, leave my country and go to Australia. In February 2010 I landed in this new place but in the follow year I couldn’t improve my cooking since I lived only in hostels… where the kitchens are not very equipped. 😀 In March 2010 I decided to move into an house with a proper kitchen. Since then I can do all my crazy experiments.

Last June 2013 I got my permanent residency and I started working part time. That meant more free time that I can spend in the kitchen and have fun. But why not cooking in a professional kitchen? Simply because it a little bit hard to apply for a position for a 31 year old without any previous experience (I don’t consider put ingredients on pizzas for 9 months as professional chef job). Especially in a fine dining restaurant.

The solution? Asking to work for free! I made a list of the top restaurant of the city where I would like to work, prepared my resume, a nice and motivational presentation letter and went to each one to ask for a stage/internship.

Let’s say that I was lucky. The first restaurant where I applied for a work experience accepted my offer!
So now I am going to do a 4 week training. After that if everything is going to be fine, they will hire me.

It’s gonna be fun, I think. 🙂

Post 1 – Day 0: first time in the kitchen!

October 25th 2013:  my first day in a professional kitchen.
The head chef told me to be there at 5 pm for the dinner service. I supposed to start my 4 weeks training on the next week but
he told me that I can start from Friday. I accepted, obviously.
At 4.45 pm I was there, get dress with the uniform requested: white chef jacket, chef’s trousers, safety boots, apron and white hat.
The pastry chef gave me my first assignment: slice 7 apples for the amuse bouche salad. I stayed in the pastry section during the service, while in the main kitchen about 8 Korean guys were working on the line.
What I did:

  • sliced 15 dates and prepared the amouse bouche
  • diced 15 carrots for the beouf bourguignon
  • separated 79 eggs
  • stirred the creme anglase while the chef was plating the desserts
  • plated some desserts: creme brulee, floating island, chocolate mousse
  • cleaned the benches at the end of service

What I learned: separating eggs is not easy! In fresh eggs there is a lot of water and even if you try to pass the yolk from one half
of the shell to the other, there is always a small amount of water that is hard to get rid of. I asked the chef if I can crack the eggs
on a bowl and then separate them with my hands but she told me: “you can do it, but at home”. 😀
The problem is, she showed me, is that the white create lumps when you cook the creme anglaise. It can be fixed but it’s better if
you have not to do it.

The creme brulee is served with a tuile on the top. The chef asked me to prepare 3 tuiles for the plating: “Pay attention they are
very fragile”. She was right, I broke the first two that I picked up from the box… 🙂

At around 10.20 pm we finished the service. The head chef told me: “You will be in charge of the pastry section next week.”
WTF?! It will be fun next week!