Sunday, June 21, 2009

Week 1 of Culinary Training: Complete!

I just got back today from a week at the Orlando Culinary Academy. I was SO ready to get home! Lots happened while I was gone, which I'll share later, but I missed my husband and my puppy (and everybody else, of course!) a WHOLE lot while I was gone.
The school treated us so well and showed us a great time. My flight there was delayed a total of 9 hours, so I was not too happy when it took me 17 hours to get to Orlando and I missed the opening reception, but got started on Monday morning with everyone else. Each day was packed with information about everything from knife skills to cooking techniques to human resource management in the restaurant setting. Each day started around 7:30 and most didn't end until around 8:00 PM!
On Monday night they took us out to Universal Studios City Walk and for some reason this is the only picture I took. I guess just for proof I was there, because I don't know anybody in this picture! It was a little odd at first going to dinner and hanging out with a bunch of people I didn't know, but we became friends quickly and had a lot of fun. We had dinner at the Latin Quarter-- ceviche and paella...so good! The head chef was kind enough to give us a full kitchen tour after dinner when we told him why we were in town. Pretty cool! I was SO tired by the end of this night!We got to practice all sorts of cooking techniques and knife cuts, but one of my favorite sessions was on herbs and spices. All of the chefs were also really funny and made great teachers, which I was really impressed with. During this session, there were over fifty herbs and probably 30 spices we got to pass around and learn about. There were a lot of common ones I've used before, but also a lot I've never even seen before! One of my very favorite ones I haven't used before was the lemon verbena. They had real lavender too, which was a little piece of heaven!
We were required to wear the official culinary student uniform while we were there--this picture is right before heading into the kitchens, so we had to also wear our aprons. I learned the hard way (when a student made fun of me!) that you only wear aprons in the kitchens!! At the end of the week, Chef Jimmy also gave us a toque, which is pretty cool but also pretty stupid looking on me!! :)

Chef Rosado doing a demonstration before our second practical. The kitchens were craaaaazy--packed with all of us trying to get done in our time limit. We didn't realize we were supposed to bring our own spoons, tongs, etc., so nobody had any of those and that created even more chaos. Note to self for level two--bring own utensils! We all had our own knife kits and whisks, so we did a lot of whisking of things we wouldn't normally whisk.... like sauteing vegetables with a whisk..
The students are also required to complete a section on front of house duties. Machon is the restaurant inside of the school, so it's really a "classroom" so students can practice, but is open to the public. We ordered crepes suzette served tableside, and this girl was so cute because she was so nervous about being out there! Most of them know their food, but don't necessarily want to be around people much--hence the reason for requiring a front of house section. She did a great job, and all the food was excellent! The mahi mahi with dirty rice and mango salsa was awwwwwesome.
That's the end of the pictures I took! It was really difficult to have a camera out because we were busy all the time, and cameras aren't exactly the most sanitary thing to whip out in the kitchen. Although, maybe I could have figured out a way to use it as a spoon??? :)
Fun week--already looking forward to level two next summer! We are supposed to go for a week every summer for four years. Should be fun!