Days 53, 54, 55, coffee roasting and two stages

18 Sep

The latter half of this week was a bit of a blur. Our friend Matthew was in town, so we had some late nights (and great food and wine, of course). Also what added to the late nights were that I staged (essentially, interned/worked for free) in two different fabulous San Francisco restaurants: Commonwealth and Quince. I staged on Thursday at Commonwealth from 3:30 to 11:30 p.m. and I staged at Quince yesterday from 11:00 a.m. until 11:30 p.m. (yep, 12.5 hours). The stages were awesome experiences and I learned how two very different kitchens are set up (both very efficiently for their spaces) as well as how the pass (where the executive chef or chef de cuisine calls out the orders) runs in a small v. a larger kitchen.

At Commonwealth, I assisted Adam on the garde manger station (cold apps) as well as with desserts. I got to work with liquid nitrogen, which was very cool (no pun intended). Chef Ian is pretty mellow, yet meticulous – two great qualities in a chef. He was also very encouraging and told me more than once to jump in and that I couldn’t screw up anything too badly (which, I don’t really believe, but that was nice). I am excited to go back and do more this week!

At Quince, I got to do a lot more prep since I arrived 6 hours prior to dinner service starting. With Sous Chef Tony, I de-boned small hen thighs and grated and grated and grated half of a very large parmesan wheel (great upper body workout). With the Poissonier (fish station chef) Jillian (Gillian – sp?), I worked with lobster and spot prawns, and helped finish the lobster stock. I learned how to shell lobster much faster than I had done in the past – scissors are your friend, here. And, I worked with the robo coupe, which is my next big kitchen purchase. It’s a commercial grade food processor. It ground the lobster shells and bodies with no problem and it was pretty fast. Finally, at service time, I worked with another culinary student, Michael, on the amuse buse and cold apps station. From 10-11:30 p.m. we worked on breaking down the stations and cleaning everything, and they were not done when I left. Wow, does it take an army and a lot of elbow grease to thoroughly clean that kitchen at the end of the night. I was very impressed with all the staff.

Going back to last week, I was off coffee for 5 days and I had planned to stay off of it, since it doesn’t agree with my stomach lately. But, then Chef Tomm demonstrated how to roast raw coffee beans (pictured above, although they look like peanuts in my picture) and I fell off the wagon. Bummer. I’ll try again soon. Anyways, I had never seen raw beans roasted on the stove in a saute pan. He did a dark roast, which suits my palette, and we drank it on Friday a.m.

Here is Chef Tomm at different stages of roasting – light on the left and medium on the right (then my phone malfunctioned and stopped taking pictures for some reason):

Last week, I also made pasta for the third time in my life. I didn’t know if it was going to turn out well, but Chef Ray from the New York FCI said it was very good – yeah! I learned that you really, really have to work the dough, folding it over on itself with each turn, for at least 10 minutes prior to letting it rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour. If you don’t work it, it won’t be elastic enough and smooth enough when it is rolled through the pasta machine. Fresh pasta is soooo delicious. It was at times like that when I was bummed that Carnet is committed to the paleo diet (and I am trying to be, other than at school and a few cheater days at home, which means I haven’t really been that committed yet. damn you carbs, why do you taste so good?).

This coming week, we’re ramping up for our mid-term on Thursday. I’m a bit nervous about a few of the potential dishes that I could be asked to prepare (which I won’t know until that day), but I’m hoping that our practice on timing to-date will serve me well. Friends, keep your fingers crossed for me and send me good cooking vibes on Thursday!

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