Friday, July 06, 2007

First Day of Pastry School

I was late, of course. I am never late for anything, but I couldn't help the unforeseen circumstances. It just had to happen on the first day of a programme that stresses attendance and punctuality (the President of the school spent an hour and a half talking about it during Orientation). *SIGH* Talk about inauspicious beginnings.

I have a HUGE shopping list of things I need to buy, among them, a toolbox. An honest-to-goodness toolbox, like, for hammers and stuff, except pastry peeps fill them with piping tips, digital scale, serrated knives, spatulas, bench scrapers, modeling get the picture. There are other things I need to get, like a small serrated knife, a thermometer, an assortment of paintbrushes, and so on. Pretty cool, eh? I feel like a little kid who's been given free reign to upgrade from Hot Wheels to remote-controlled racing cars and all its accoutrements.

The uniform is not so cool. It's way too big, so the sleeves must be rolled up and I will be spending tomorrow hemming the darn things (no pun intended) as they are about 5" too long. It's also unisex, so in addition to a huge, fat elastic waistband, the women must suffer the indignity of a white zippered fly in the trousers. Most unsettling, though, is the comment by Chef that these are not the best uniforms, which have knotted buttons. Knots are designed to melt away if you catch fire so that the chef jacket can be ripped off quickly. We got plastic buttons, which melt and seal. Lovely. Then this morning in the locker rooms I came across several of the Phase II students, who took one look at my uniform and went, "Ewwww! What happened with the new uniforms?"

We spent the morning in lectures - all four and a half hours of it. Boy, did we cover a's the itinerary:
In the afternoon Chef demonstrated our first recipes: pate a choux, creme anglaise (turned into ice cream), and a chocolate sauce. Pate a choux, aka eclaire paste, is a versatile pastry dough that bakes up hollow, can be piped into any shape, and can be filled with any manner of delectible items, both sweet and savory. I took pictures of the finished product, since there are photos of the doughs and sauces at each stage in our textbooks. See all the pretty things we made from just three recipes? Profiteroles, a profiterole sundae, swans, and garnishes. Here are some of my fellow students hard at work slicing open pastry puffs and filling them with vanilla bean ice cream (did you know that the cost of vanilla beans have gone down to $2 each this year? They were about $5 apiece the last time I checked. Maybe that's why last week Lana and I found the creme brulee at Mrs. London's just drenched in vanilla seeds.) We just assembled today though, and we didn't actually get to COOK anything, that's for Monday. The culinary students, on the other hand, spent 3 hours slicing and chopping, working on their knife skills while their efforts went into a soup stock for French onion soup on Monday. By the way, the culinary students are responsible for preparing lunch for the whole school every day, which is awesome. We had roast pork, sauerkraut, black bean & corn salad, ravioli, potato salad, choc chip cookies, linzertorte, watermelon, and choc chip cookies yesterday during Orientation (actually, they were leftovers from an event over the weekend...the school, like any well-run restaurant, doesn't waste any food.) Today we had turkey sandwiches on fresh baguettes, with a selection of cheeses, cornichons, spinach & tomato salad, and more dessert. While I won't want for excellent midday meals, never worry, it doesn't mean I won't be needed my nifty new lunch bag; we get in at 7am and don't stop for more than 5 minutes until noon, so I think I'll be filling it with a Luna bar and some fruit to get through the mornings.


Lana said...

Hang in there, Moocow! It will all be worth it in the end. And remember, you always have a willing guinea pig in me!

MooCow said...

awww, thanks! *sniff!*

greeeenwithenv said...

"Stages of Ice Cream Making and Service". Mmm, ice cream. Sign me up!