Days 80-86: The big buffet and Level 5 start

30 Oct

Day 80 was our final day of Level 4 and our second buffet. I loved this buffet! The theme: Spain, with a little Asia and charcuterie thrown in for good measure. I refuse to call it fusion because it wasn’t meant to be, but some students really wanted to do Asian, so Chef Ryan was accommodating. It ended up very impressive and it was a lot of fun. Thanks, Chef Ryan!

As I mentioned in a previous post, my dishes included octopus tiradito (which is sort of like ceviche, except we quickly poached the octopus first and then kept in court bouillon in the fridge overnight); roasted chanterelle and oyster mushrooms with garlic, white wine and sherry; squash empanadas with a sour cream-ancho-chipotle dipping sauce; vegetarian paella; and lime sorbet with espelette (a yummy red pepper).

I learned a lot, especially by working with octopus. There is such a debate about the best way to cook/serve octopus if you don’t want it tough. I don’t think I necessarily succeeded in making it succulent, which was my goal, but many people gave compliments, I think mostly due to the marinade it was sitting in when served (orange, lemon and lime juice, sherry vinegar, sugar, salt and dash of Anne’s scallop marinade – thanks, Anne!). We tried woking it on very high heat for just a couple of seconds, but the octopus immediately seized up (we = Chef Ryan and I collaborating on it to try to make it the way I envisioned it).

We also tried massaging daikon into it which has been suggested by a couple of chefs as a tenderizer. I don’t think the daikon did anything. I think in the end, had I just sliced the tentacles very thinly (which I did) and let them marinate in the “ceviche” juices, it would have been equally as tender as it was after the daikon treatment and poaching. We felt the tentacles at each stage and I felt, saw, and tasted no measurable difference at each stage just in terms of toughness. Why I look so happy to be butchering this smart animal is beyond me. I’m a goofball.

At any rate, below is a snapshot of some of the rest of the dishes and Victor and David’s carving pieces.

So, onto Level 5 which is practice for the restaurant and then actual stations in the restaurant. Days 1-6 in Level 5 were practicing and getting used to the expediting system that the chefs will use to call out orders in the restaurant. I liked having Chef Rogers in the classroom for 6 days. He is tough and I need it. He does a great job of walking around and showing each of us different techniques to make our lives easier in the kitchen. And, Chef Tim is super mellow, which I appreciate in someone who expedites. I don’t like chefs who yell. I don’t think it serves any purpose since if I do something wrong, it works better if you just look disappointed at me and calmly tell me what I did wrong. To be sure I’ll feel terrible and probably won’t make that mistake again as I hate to disappoint people.

David and I were on garde manger and it was pretty boring since our dishes were not at all complicated to prepare and easy to plate expeditiously. Here is a photo of the pork belly, which was delicious:

I’m looking forward to being on the fish station with Bobbie all next week!

In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying some Halloween activities and working on my menu project.

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