Friday, September 24, 2010

Block 5: Week 1 - Demos

We started Block 5 this week down in the butcher shop. This week was simply demonstrations by the chef, so it was a little bit slow, but still pretty interesting.

On Monday and Tuesday, chef broke down a whole side of beef, the front quarter on Monday and the hind quarter on Tuesday. On Wednesday, chef broke down a side of veal. He cut the side into the primal cuts, and then continued processing the meat into purchasable cuts. We did get to participate after the demonstrations by helping to clean up small pieces of meat that would eventually be used for ground beef or veal.

We learned about a side of pork on Thursday, and we each got to break down and debone a pork loin. Today, chef cut up a whole lamb, and also demonstrated deboning a turkey, and we each deboned our own turkey afterwards. I definitely will find this month challenging as I haven't worked with meat all that much (A tends to do a lot more of the meat cooking at home) and deboning is pretty new to me. I am excited about learning a lot this month though.

This week, I also started back at Rogers Arena. I worked Monday night at an event for 3,000 people and made spinach salad with beets, gooseberries, and goat cheese. I also worked a pre-season hockey game in my new kitchen. It's pretty similar to BBC from last season in that it's a buffet and there are action stations. I worked on a station and made prawns and scallops with a Thai curry cream sauce garnished with water chestnuts, snow peas, and toasted sesame seeds. This kitchen is on the 200 level, and the view from the action station is pretty amazing. When we aren't busy, I can watch the game, which is great.

I was at the hotel yesterday, and it was somewhat painful. Me and another guy were assigned to clean baby carrots. Peeling and cleaning them took forever, so we spent almost the entire shift on the same task. We did get to see how they make rice pilaf for a party of 200 in the tilt skillet, and we also helped set up the hot food for the buffet dinner, so that was good to see.

Groups haven't been decided for the rest of the month, so we don't know what stations we will be on in class yet. But the three stations are poultry and fish, beef, and lamb and pork. Should be an interesting month.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Block 4: Week 4 - Vegetables

Vegetable station wasn't the most exciting week, probably because it was pretty easy. I made carrots vichy (carrots braised in water and butter), scallopped potatoes (which was the most stressful because I was cooking them in an oven that wasn't working, so I barely got them out in time), turnips glazed with brown sugar (gross), roasted acorn squash, and potatoes berny (mashed potato balls breaded with sliced almonds and then deep fried).

The hotel this week wasn't too exciting either. I made tartare sauce on Monday and cut a lot of veggies for stir fry and soup on Thursday.

The highlight of the week was probably my interview at Rogers Arena (formerly GM Place). I applied to be a second cook for this season. I met with Chef and with B and I was nervous they were going to ask me a lot of technical questions, but mostly they just wanted to know about my experiences at school and work over the summer. They seemed really happy that I showed so much interest and they thought I did great work last season, so they gave me the promotion on the spot. They also told me I'd be working in a different kitchen. The set up is similar to BBC, in that it's buffet style and there are action stations and the menu changes every night, so it should be somewhat familiar. I'm excited to work with different people and learn some new dishes. Another good thing is that the restaurant is on the 200 level, so when I'm at an action station, I can see the whole ice and watch the game. Should be a fun season.

Next week - Block 5 - butchery.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Block 4: Week 3 - Meat

This week, we cooked meat for the cafeteria. Over the course of the week, I made roast chicken with a giant log of stuffing, chicken ballantines (boneless chicken legs wrapped around a ball of stuffing and baked in the oven), and pot roast.

The highlight of the week was probably starting work at the Renaissance Hotel. Through school, our class is doing practicum work there. We do five hour shifts, a couple of days a week, for five months. My first day was Thursday, and I ended up working with the pastry cook. I had tons of fun that day making dinner rolls, brioche dough, cookie dough (chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin), chocolate cake, and creme brulee. The guy I was working with was really nice. He took me on a tour of the kitchens and I got to see the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel. He gave me a chocolate chip cookie for breakfast (yum) and he also let me taste the chocolate cake (surprisingly delicious when it was made with water as the liquid ingredient). He encouraged me to write down all the recipes, so I will definitely be making some of those at home. We also get to eat a meal at the hotel, which was a delicious salmon, scalloped potatoes, and roasted veggies. It was a great day.

Next week - vegetable station.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Block 4: Week 2 - Fish

This week, I was on the fish station. Over the course of the week, I made poached salmon with tomato basil cream sauce, salmon brochettes with peppers and red onion and an orange ginger glaze, pan fried sole with a lemon caper brown butter sauce, and a mixed seafood curry.

We had a new chef for the week as our regular chef was away. The first day was really stressful because she was so different from our regular chef. She got really panicked that we weren't going to get our food out on time, even though everyone was doing just fine. As we got to know her better throughout the week, things improved, which is good because we will probably have her again in Block 6 and Block 9.

I also worked on the cafeteria line this week serving the dinner. It was not especially exciting because we probably only did about 30 covers a night. So there was a lot of standing around with not much to do. But A came for dinner on Friday and thought the food was good, so that was fun.

I went for brunch with a friend this week at Paul's Place Omelettery. He also works brunch on weekends, so we were both really happy to sit down and enjoy a delicious breakfast not cooked by us.

Work was extremely busy this long weekend. We did the most covers I've ever done, 130, both Saturday and Sunday, which is more covers than the restaurant does for dinner sometimes. Thankfully Monday was rainy, so it was a lot slower. I also found out Lady Gaga came to the restaurant for lunch when she was in town for her show. I wish I had been there that day!

Next week - meat station.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Great Meals

We had two great meals this weekend.

Last night, our friends cooked us an Indian feast - an appetizer of samosas with spicy ketchup, beef vindaloo, green lentils, spicy beans, and fenugreek roti on traditional thalis, mango panna cotta for dessert, and dark and stormy drinks. So delicious.

Tonight we went to Hot Oven Pizza in Burnaby because a friend from school works there. He made us a special pizza for dinner - a combination of the Orient pizza (duck pizza) and perogie pizza. The perogie pizza isn't on the menu, but is made of mashed potato, sausage, red and green onions, and topped with a sour cream quenelle (which was my favourite part).