July 19 1998
Hyde Park, New York
Is there a Jekyll Park?

The task of the day:

Checking out the grounds

I'm here. I'm actually here. It's very strange to think that so many chefs who are famous, who produce such excellent food, got their start here. In some ways the campus looks like a normal campus, with normal student-like things around it. But the buildings are all labeled things like "The Shunsuke Takaki Pastry and Baking School" or the "Conrad Hilton Library." And all of the students are walking around in chef pants.

The classrooms and halls are really wacky. All tiled, of course, to keep down the dirt. And stoves as far as the eye can see. It's disquieting to walk down the hall and see all of the mixers and stoves primed for action, but just sitting there. Tomorrow every single one of them will be in full swing - not only are my classes going on, but so are 40 regular degree classes. Whew!

I already have homework for tomorrow. Things to read up on and get mentally ready. Class starts at 2 PM and runs until 8:30. I'll spend the morning getting all of my reading done, and making sure I'm ready. We're going to be working in teams of 2 (as yet unassigned), but there is a ton of things to do. Well, check it out

* * *

Tomorrow my team makes:

  • Brown Stock
  • Basic White Stock
  • Chicken Stock
  • Fish Stock
  • Vegetable Stock
  • Clarified Butter
  • Roux
  • Sauce Espagnole
  • Lamb Stock

* * *

It takes 8 hours of simmer time for most of the stocks. And we only have six and a half, part of which is taken up by lecture. And while at least some of this work can be done in parallel, there are only six burners on the stove. I have a funny feeling I'm going to be there late tomorrow night.

The big deal about this week's course (Soups, Stocks, and Sauces) is that these are basic preparations that chefs do prior to the creative stuff. And, it's also prep work that needs to be done every day (or the prior night), and isn't all that glamorous. The CIA tries very hard to have the experience be like that of a real kitchen. There's real pressure, no excuses, and people eat what you make. Oh yeah, and no Air Conditioning in the kitchens. It's time to master the heat, I guess.

past home future


Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy
Comments? dowdy@poubelle.com