The Best Day    

July 23 1998
Finally, we eat
The Chef picks us

The task of the day:

4 clear soups

We made four "clear" soups today. They actually varied in their levels of clarity somewhat, but not due to any fault of ours. It's just how they were supposed to be. The consommé clarified just fine, and we ended up with a very nice clear product. However, we didn't have time to cool down the soup in order to degrease it. The presence of grease wasn't our fault, however. We didn't grind the added chicken ourselves and thus couldn't pick it for fat.

Our French Onion Soup got a thumbs up not only from the chef, who said, "This is what this should taste like. You should all try this to know when you have it correct," but also from the dishwasher, who ladeled himself out a large bowl to eat for dinner. The Chef also selected our Scotch Broth Soup for his own dinner.

People are probably wondering about the dishes and cleaning. We don't have to do all of the cleaning, as there is a single person assigned to each kitchen. He has a cart onto which you place your dirty pots, and he takes them away, washes them, and then returns them to the pot cage while you continue cooking. However, we also wash some things ourselves. As we dirty things we know that we or someone else will need again, we wash them via a three sink system. It's actually pretty quick and painless. But it is nice not to have to do all of them yourself.

* * *

Tomorrow is the last day of this first week. Next week will be another class, and not all of those in this class are continuing. Milli will be in the next class with me, but Ed could only afford the one week. He's very depressed about leaving, as the class has greatly gone beyond his original expectations. He's also been a great team member to work with. I hope that his replacement next week is as good as he has been.

The whole class is planning on going out tomorrow to say goodbye to those who are leaving. I think that everyone is coming away with much more than they expected.

* * *

Today we made clear soups:

  • Salmon-Miso Soup (1/2 gallon)
  • Onion Soup (1/2 gallon)
  • Chicken Consommé (1/2 gallon)
  • Scotch Broth (1/2 gallon)
  • Maltaise (a sauce in the Hollandaise family). We hadn't gotten around to this the day before, and we did so well, we thought we'd do more.

* * *

Today was a good day in lots of respects. Not only did our products turn out fairly well, but we did them quickly and efficiently. Less than two hours from entering the kitchen until we were plating them for service. And they tasted very good. We also didn't really feel rushed, hurried, confused, or super pressured. We felt like a team. We felt like chefs. The kitchen hummed with activity, but there was much less mess and random crap to deal with.

Shawn, our student assistant, remarked at how different day four typically was from the first day. Less dirty dishes hanging around, less mess on the floor, less yelling and screaming.

As an added bonus, we all got to pick and choose a soup to eat with dinner. Potentially one we made ourselves. I felt a sense of pride when several people picked our soups to eat. Of course, part of that is just luck of the draw. The team that got the Fish Consommé probably didn't even eat their own creation.

Tomorrow are cream soups. I think they may go well, but there sure looks like there is the possibility for problems and errors. I think some advance planning will be needed in order for the work to go smoothly. I'd like to nail this last day solidly. I think it's doable, and we should be able to present the soups in a very nice way.

I had one embarassing thing happen the other day. I was cutting up some tomatoes and just about squashed one. It was a rather ripe tomato, but it was pretty clear that the knife was dull. When I got home, I sharpened all my knives to avoid such a problem in the future. I spent tonight sharpening them again. These are new knives, and haven't taken a full edge yet. They're starting to come around now, however. There's something very primitive about sharpening knives. It makes me feel good - in a caveman sort of way.

past home future


Copyright 1998 Tom Dowdy