Thursday, December 29, 2011

End of 1st semster

Well, I made it through the first semester with all A's in my culinary classes. I made an A and a B in my two hospitality classes.

In all I wasn't too impressed with the program so far at Gwinnett Tech. Of course it was not what I was expecting, and in part I did not ask all the right questions in the beginning. Live and learn is the lesson there. ServSafe and Foundations of Culinary should have been combined into one class or into half-semester classes. It was a waste of time for a 7 hour and a 5 hour class separated when in each class we got out early and the other one you meet every other week. Ridiculous!

Sorry, about the lack of writing last semester. But I would have written much of the same thing on every new topic that I have all ready presented. The following topics were covered after week 6 (this is what was made for lunch on that day):

Week 7 - Pork, Lamb, and Veal
The meat made : Pork Ribs, Blanquette of Lamb, Veal Cordon Bleu (Yum!), Veal Scallopini (came out good), and Lamb Chops.
The sides : Grits & Cheddar Souffle (Yum!), Lyonnaise Potatoes, Brown rice, Brussel Sprouts, Fresh green salad with Dijon Vinaigrette, and Escalope de Porc Normandie

Week 8 - Fish and Shellfish
The seafood prepared : Deep Fried Catfish (The bomb!), Lobster Thermidor ( I actually liked this even though I am not a fan of lobster), Pauplettes of Sole, Steamed Salmon, Steamed Mussels, Red Snapper Pappillote, Oysters Rockefeller, Sole Bonne Femme, Terriyaki Salmon, Seared Scallops

Week 9 - Vegetables : Roasted Butternut Squash, Parsnip Puree (First time having parsnip. Really liked it.), Stirfry Asparagus, Beer Battered Onion Rings (Yum!), Ratatouille, Brussel Sprouts, Tempura Vegetables, Braised Red Cabbage, and Stuffed Artichoke

Week 10 - Fruit : Candied Citrus Rind (Delish!), Apple Fritters (Yummy!), Cranberry Relish, Poached Pears, Mango Chutney (wonderful), Figs with a Honey Mousse, Braised Rhubarb, Warm Baked Nectarines, Baked Apples (wonderful as well), and Dried Fruit Compote

Week 11 - Potatoes, Pasta, and Grains : Bulgur Pilaf, Deep Fried Potatoes (Who doesn't love French fries), Risotto Milonese, Potato Gnocchi, Hoppin' John (First time I have ever liked black eyed peas), Creamy Polenta with wild Mushrooms, Quinoa, Potato Pancakes, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Peppers and baby spinach (was really good), and Fried Rice

Week 12 - Healthy Cooking : Falafel (I actually really liked), Veggie Wrap, Saffron Vegetable Risotto, Pan-Seared Tofu Provencal (The tofu was not so bad), and a salad with Garlic Yogurt Dressing

Week 13 - Eggs : Egg salad with Smoked Salmon Sandwich (absolutely loved), Eggs Benedict (The Best my Hollandaise sauce has come out so far), Shrimp and Avocado Omelet,and Garden Frittata

Week 14 - American Regional Day : Each group had there own region assigned to them. My group was assigned Cajun/Creole which works for me being that my family is from down there. My group made Crawfish Etoufee and a White Chocolate Bread pudding. The Bread pudding was absolutely wonderful. The other groups had the regions of Carribean, Southwest, New England, and West Coast.

Week 15 - Practical : For the day of the Practical we had to individually produce 8 knife cuts and a conquesa of tomato, minced garlic, sheffanod of basil, and minced parsley. Everyone also had to break down a chicken into 8 parts. We were also put into new groups. Fun! We were given a "mystery basket". Not so mysterious, because we are on a budget now. Because everyone fabricated a chicken that was the groups meat along with 12 shrimp. We where given potatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and some other basic cooking odds and ends. We had to use 6 cooking methods and four knife cuts, and produce one platter and a single plate (for the teacher). My group did really well. We served roasted potatoes, sauteed vegetables (yellow squash, zucchini, and carrots), pesto marinated grilled shrimp, and pan-seared chicken thigh. It was really good.

Week 16 - Deep Clean the kitchen and practical : I have to admit that I totally thought the teacher was nuts when he said we are going to clean first then take the final. I wasn't to happy with that idea. I mean think about it. We are all awake and ready to take the test when we first walk in. If we clean first we get tired. mmmm...... It didn't matter too much, I did well on the final. So I'm all good.

In ServSafe, I passed the test with a 95, which was two points higher than when I took the ServSafe test at Le Cordon Bleu. Yay!

I'm still disappointed in the fact that every class was based on putting out a lunch instead of working on the basics. They told us that if we had not made over a "B" on our knife cuts test to drop out or not sign up for Fundamentals of Restaurant Operations. Ummm.... if you have to say that, then why didn't you prepare the students better. (Yes, everybody should have been practicing outside of school.)

Next semester I am signed up for 3 classes: Fundamentals of Restaurant Operations, Baking Principles, and Gard Manger. I couldn't get out of taking the Baking Principles class eventhough I have a Baking and Pattiserie certificate from Le Cordon Bleu. It's supposedly due to the accreditation agency that Gwinnett Tech uses being different than the agency that Le Cordon Bleu uses. The real issue is money, they just want more of my money. If any one figures out how schools work let me know. In Fundamentals of Restaurant Operations, for the first half of the semester I will be in back of house (cooking) and the last half of the semester, I will be in front of house, serving. Garde Manger means preparation of cold foods (i.e. salads, pates, and presentation of the food. Garde Manger also tries to use up scraps and make good use of them to make money with every part of what you purchase for the restaurant. So if you by a chicken or fish, try to use as much of it as possible.

Friday, October 7, 2011

6th Week - Beef

Top left corner: Baked Apple Top of plate: Salisbury Steak, wilted spinach, Roman flat bread, pepper steak covered in pan gravy, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, beef stroganoff on egg noodles with peas and carrots, and Chateaubriand with roasted peppers.

Today was beef day. We did not necessarily fabricate beef, because of time constraint and money. The teacher showed us how parts of the beef are fabricated. The thing that did not make me happy today was that we had to cut parts of our day out and some recipes, due to the fact that some students signed up for an event that they had to leave at three for. I'm sorry, but I payed to go to class and learn. Not to rush and accommodate others for lack of commonsense. Students should not be allowed to sign up for events that occur during class time. It is not fair to the other students that come to learn. I do believe that going to events are good for learning experience, but not when you ruin class time for others. I had to get on my soap box, because it is something I strongly believe in. We were supposed to have a knife test today, but it didn't happen.

Team 1 : Pepper Steak, Risotto Radicchio, Grilled Asparagus, (Roasted Potatoes).
The pepper steak was good. The Grilled Asparagus was wonderful. Chef said it was spot on. Yeay! We did not make the risotto radicchio. Instead we made roasted potatoes, because of us cutting class short.

Team 2: Chateaubriand, Chateau Potatoes, Bearnaise Sauce, (Tourned Root Vegetables).
The Chateaubriand was so tender and flavorful. Yum! The teacher made a comment about what happened to the tourned vegetables and the chateau potatoes. Well, we did not have our knife cut test to give the group the potatoes, and they didn't have time to make them in the shape requested.

Team 3: Beef Stroganoff, Buttered Egg Noodles, Peas and Carrots.
The Stroganoff was wonderful. The only time I can remember eating something close to this was when my grandpa made it.

Team 4: Aunt Ruthies' Pot Roast, Roman Flat Bread (Finally came out right), Baked Apples.
Because of the time it took to make Pot Roast we did not get to eat it today, but we will next week. The flat bread came out right today. Along with not having time to let it rise the previous times, they were also stretching the product out to thin on the sheet pan. So, today they doubled the recipe and gave it plenty of time to rise. The baked apple was good. I had never had a baked apple served to me in tack with the core taken out stuffed with raisins and a batter. The only thing I would have done different would have either not served it in a small ramekin like bowl, or maybe have mixed cut apple slices in the raisin batter and baked that in a bowl.

Team 5: Salisbury Steak, Broiled Tomatoes, Wilted Spinach.
Well, I have never really had Salisbury steak, but it looked like a meatloaf patty. Not a huge fan of most peoples take on meatloaf. I am very partial to my mom's which has no added vegetables and the meat is grilled with a yummy homemade BBQ sauce. The tomatoes and Spinach were good.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Made my own Birthday Cake!

Today I finished my birthday cake. It took a little over a week to finish it. Of course I waited till the last three days to bake and put it all together. The longest part were the leaves and the flowers. My leaves were my favorite part of the cake. Yes, parts of it were not what I wanted it to be or perfect. But I'm still learning and practicing. Which is why I made my own cake.
The inside of my cake is the triple layer devil's food cake from the Cake Bible and a spice caramel crunch butter cream. It was absolutely delicious. I was sceptical about combining the chocolate cake and the spices in the butter cream. But many confectioners or chefs pair chocolate and different spices. It worked out great.
Also today I start to practice the classic knife cut, tourne. The biggest mistake was that I did what I thought I remembered being taught. Wrong! I learned that I should look up what I'm doing before I do it. I was practicing the cut the wrong way, and I ended up cutting my left thumb. Boy was that fun. NOT! This is not my first cut, but it is the worst so far. Knives are the one thing that scares me the most, and the fact that you perform this cut in your hand and not on a cutting board. The other thing I dislike is how the teacher has us cutting the onion. We hold it in our hand and carve the root and top end out. We already had one girl cut the area between the thumb and the index finger. Ouch! Well life goes on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

5th week - Chicken

Top left clock wise: Chicken tenders with chipotle dipping sauce and beer battered onion rings, Roasted Chicken with Gravy, Chicken sauté with garlic mashed potatoes, Wing with SE Asian Style peanut Sauce, and in the center Chicken Fricasse with Broccoli.

Today we butchered chicken. The way the teacher showed us was different from what I learned in high school, and it was a whole lot better this way. The first step is to cut the back bone out. Then you pop the keel bone out of the chest. From there you can take the legs and wings off the body, and debone the breast. Lunch was full of chicken.

Team1: Breast of Chicken Saute with Red pepper coulis, Garlic Mashed PotatoesThe chicken was yummy. I would make it again. The garlic mashed potatoes maybe a tad more flavor. We did not make the red pepper coulis. We made the sauce that was with the chicken recipe. It did contain roasted red pepper though.

Team 2: Chicken tenders with chipotle dipping sauce, Beer Battered Onion Rings
The tenders were my absolute favorite. I did not care for the chipotle sauce. I loved the onion rings.

Team 3: Chicken Fricasse with Sauteed Broccoli Rabe, Curly Endive, Apple & Gorgonzola Salad
This was good as well.

Team 4: Roast Chicken with Chestnut Dressing & Giblet Gravy
The breast meat was maybe a tad dry.

Team 5 : Deep Fried Chicken Wings with SE Asian Style Peanut Sauce, Asian Slaw. The wings were okay. I like my wings wet. The Asian Peanut Sauce was complex in flavor, but heavy in my opinion.

Sorry, for the messy plate. We go around a table as a class and hold our late and get food.It's a bit crowded.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A picture of me working at Sucre

I was looking at Sucrés Facebook page and ran across a photo of me. What a surprise! I probably could have held the bag better, but if I'm not mistaken I am making the Kalamansi Chocolates. You can see that some of the cavities are not coated with chocolate. That is because they had cracked. Oops! Somewhere the temperature went wrong. Most likely they got left in the freezer a tad too long. Chocolate, if you don't know, is very temperamental. Any slight change or not paying attention could mess it up. I looked so peaceful.

Friday, September 23, 2011

4th week - Mother Sauces

From top left clockwise: Mesclun Salad with Rasp. Vinaigrette, Roman Flat Bread, Macaroni and Cheese, Broccoli Almondine with Maltaise sauce, Tomato Sauce pasta, Pan fried chicken with carrots and pan gravy.

There are 5 Mother Sauces : Hollandaise, Tomato, Brown, Bechemal, and Veloute. They were classified this way under Auguste Escoffier after simplifying Careme's work. Each of these sauces makes many small or intermediary depending on the types of added ingredients desired.

Each team in our class was assigned a mother sauce to make.

Team 1 : Hollandaise, Broccoli Almondine (roasted almonds, Maltaise)
Maltaise is a small sauce of Hollandaise You add Orange zest and juice to the finished product. I believe it needed a bit stronger orange flavor. Hollandaise is still not one of my favorite.

Team2 : Tomato, Meat balls (pasta)
The group was missing a person today so they did not get to making the meat balls for the pasta. I would not compare this sauce to a store bought sauce. I have never tried making one from scratch so I have no bases to judge off of.

Team 3: Brown Sauce, Mesclun Salad with Rasp.Vinaigrette, Roman Flat Bread
This was the only sauce we did not get to taste today, because of the time it takes to reduce it down. We will try it next week. The Romain Flat Bread which was supposed to be thick came out rather flat, like a cracker. Just did not have time to let the dough rise properly.

Team 4 : Bechemal, Macaroni & Cheese
The mac and cheese was good. I would have loved some more Cheddar in it. I'm not sure I love bechemal sauce. I find it heavy.

Team 5 : Chicken Veloute : Pan fried Chicken with Pan Gravy
This came out good.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

3rd Week of School

During second week of school, I only had two Hospitality Classes and Fundamentals of Cooking, since Labor Day was a Holiday.

No holidays this week, so I had all my classes. On Monday, in Principles of Cooking, we started in the kitchen for the first time. Even thought is was the first day, it still seem more chaotic than it should have been. We started the class by going over a few things. We did a measures conversion test (not graded) on tablespoons, teaspoons, cups, pints, quarts, and gallons. I missed two due to simple math errors. Oops! Need to slow down a little and think. Then we did the morning line up, where everybody lines up and the Chef checks the uniforms. Then we went into the kitchen and got ready for class. Getting ready meant washing our hands, getting a sanitation bucket and wiping down the tables, and then get a cutting board.

Then the teacher demonstrates a few things and then we started cutting vegetables. Some different cuts, ex. Julian, small dice, medium dice, and large dice. The instructor did not truly pay attention to the correctness of the cuts. All of our cuts were going to be used for the stocks. The funny thing was, we did not get to make stock. I know that our class is not long, but it made me disappointed. What is the point of attending culinary classes, if you don't do any hands on. I want to learn, which is why I went back to school. In my opinion there is only one way to learn cooking and that is hands on. There is only so much a person can get out of a book.

The next thing we started was making our lunch that we the students were all going to eat. It seems like making our own lunch is more of a concern than teaching us how to cook. My group was responsible for making the Caesar salad. The other groups made other dishes. The only part that didn't turn out correct was the foccasia bread, because that group didn't have the right amount of time to let it rise. It turned into a flat bread. The teacher almost did just about everything for each team. The instructor put together my teams salad dressing, team 3's pasta, and team 4's soup. After all the dishes were finished we sat down and ate it, and then it was time to clean up the kitchen. The soup was pretty good, the pasta and cookies were good too.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

First full week of school

Oh boy! Lots of work got handed to me this week. It is like a never ending list. Talk about me being overwhelmed. You would think I was studying to be a doctor. But it is all good and it is important to my education. I just need to buckle down and get my self organized. The tough thing about school these days is that just about every class has a different source (program) on the computer where you get assignments, turn in homework, download articles to read, and take quizzes on. I like the old paper method. That way I don't have to get on the computer 50,000 times a week to check and make sure I didn't miss anything. Technology today is driving me insane. Yes, it has its good points, but please give me a break by just giving me one location/platform on the web to find all my school information.

I start in the kitchen on Monday, September 12. I can't wait! The only thing that bothers me is that we work in teams. Right now I am only in the kitchen one time a week for roughly 4 1/2 hours. So the first day in the kitchen we are making stocks. Well, what it boils down to is that each team is assigned one stock to make, and then next week we are assigned one mother sauce. So, for example, I will have made chicken stock and Hollandaise sauce in school and never make the other ones. Now, I do realize the school budget and class time are both small, and what we pay for the class is a lot smaller than the bigger schools. But ....., this seems a little weak to me. So hopefully somewhere I will gain the knowledge from observing what the other teams are doing or I'll be able to fit it in at home. But in my opinion it is not the same learning by yourself.

The one thing we also do in this class is make lunch for the culinary students to eat. The same principle applies to making lunch as the things we make in class. Not all students get a chance to make all the items (in fact, a very small percentage will we even get hands on with). I believe the first week my team gets to make a caesar salad. It should be really interesting to see how this all works out. I'm hoping for the best.

We also got to take a tour of the kitchen and boy is it the cleanest kitchen you have seen. For as many years as this kitchen has been used at Gwinnett Tech, the kitchen looks bran spanking new. They are very strict on keeping it clean. As the Chef said, for the most part, they always get 100's on their heath inspections.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hollandaise Sauce

                                (Eggs Benedict)                               
Upon my dad's request, for his new found liking of Eggs Benedict, I tried making Hollandaise Sauce for the first time today. The first batch scrambled on me. Too high of heat maybe, and I stopped stirring for a second to check the temperature of the egg yokes. Oops! It was a good thing that only that part messed up, because I had just enough clarified butter for one more batch. The second batch worked. After having successfully completing the Hollandaise, I tasted it, and it was a bit on the tart side. Hollandaise should taste buttery, but not so much that it covers the light lemony taste. So, I added some salt, white pepper, a little cayenne, and a little more clarified butter. It tasted much better. Then my dad poached the eggs, and heated the ham. We put it all together on a English muffin. Yum! I have never eaten eggs Benedict before today. I wouldn't say it is my favorite, but I have never tried it before. My mom and dad liked it a lot. Even though by the time dad got his eggs poached, muffins toasted and assemble the Hollandaise sauce was broken from the temperature changing. I felt bad, because he was the one that wanted it. Oh well. He says he can't wait for me to try it again next weekend. Nothing but trial and error to make you better.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Welcome Back!!!

Sorry, It has been so long since I have written anything. I was taking a three week vacation from the world. I'm back home in Georgia and boy am I happy to be home. Since I have been home I have been doing more cooking, mostly dinners, but I can use the practice. One of the things I made for the first time was gumbo. I even made the stock from scratch. It came out pretty good, but it was missing something and I couldn't put my finger on it. But if anything I'm sure of, it was lacking a little flavor. And next time I might try and get the roux even darker than I did. I have baked two kinds of muffins from scratch as well, Cherry Chocolate and Cinnamon Raisin. They were pretty good! Yum! :)
I also made Ricotta Gnudi, a recipe from a cookbook by Giada De Laurentiis. It is kind of like a gnocchi with cheese instead of potato. It needed more flavor in the chicken stock, and the prosciutto could have been sliced a hair thicker. But the important thing is that I tried something new. To go along with the Ricotta Gnudi, I tried frying ravioli, which was breaded. It was the first time I made this and boy was that good! Maybe next time I will make the ravioli from scratch.

I started school at Gwinnett Technical College last Wednesday. I'm working on an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. This is a two year program. My first class was Fundamentals of Culinary Arts. The rest of my classes will start this coming Monday. In all I'm taking Principles of Cooking, Safety and Sanitation (Servsafe), Event planning, Food and Beverage Management, and Fundamentals of Culinary Arts. I feel a little overwhelmed by my first class, so I'm a little afraid of what the rest will look like. I have taken/read the Servsafe and passed two times already. So, hopefully that class won't be too stressful. Well, more to come soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last Day at Sucre

Chef Tariq Hanna and me in the Sucré kitchen.

Well, my last day at Sucre was a bit sad, but I managed not to cry. It was a fun and good experience for me in New Orleans for the past 11 1/2 months. I have learned a lot about myself. Maybe not as much about my field as I would have liked, but I did learn. I'm on to a new adventure now. Yay! Thank you Sucre for everything you taught me!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Good News and Sad News

Last week I went home to go to orientation for school. I am now registered for classes, have ordered my uniforms, and have all my knives for school. I'm so excited! :)

Well, today I was asked that next week be my last week at Sucre. Business is slow and since I had already told them I was leaving at the beginning of August, they asked if I would go ahead and make next week my last week. That I was leaving to go to school, saves someone else's job. I am kinda sad about it, but I would have been sad when I left in a few weeks as well. I have enjoyed my time at Sucre and will miss my co-workers dearly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Argyle Birthday Cake

I was asked to submit a potential cake design for use in the stores. The goal was to make a birthday (or any-occasion) cake for any gender. They already have several cake designs that can be changed in color. I chose to do an argyle design after seeing a sweater vest in a store. I thought the design was different and could be done in any color combination. I didn't do a full pattern all around the cake and left negative space. I utilized bright colors to draw attention, as a birthday is a joyful celebration. After doing this cake I realized that I needed to listen to my dad and practice pipping often. The lack of quality was evident in my yellow piping on the cake. And no, I'm not to proud of it. I wish that I could do the cake over again. To make it look better. But you know what, I learned from making the cake. I made the Gerber daisies that are on the cake. Most likely, you would not find the flowers on the cake in the catalogue or on the display in the store as they are cost prohibitive for most people. The cake could have been executed better, but I'll get better with each cake.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delivering cakes

My co-worker, Jen, went out of town this week and intrusted me with delivering and putting together the cakes at the delivery sites. I was so happy to do so. These are the cakes above. The scound is a 6 tier cake and the first is a 5 tier cake. It was my first time putting together such big cakes. They are heavy so you do need some help if your not strong enough to move and position the cake. But I had lots of fun, and really enjoyed it. The 6 tier was delivered to a museum and there were people all around watching me put it together. Talk about presure to do it right and not mess it up. I can't wait to get more into cakes. I'm working on it! :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Going back home

Well, I'm human, and I changed my mind. I am going to school. And I am excited.

I have plenty to plan. Goals included!

I'm working on it all.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Orchids for a wedding cake

Before I took a week off work for the Nicholas Lodge class, I had learned that Sucré had an order for a wedding cake with orchids. I asked if I could make them. When I got back I volunteered again, and was given permission to make the orchids. I was super-excited, especially since I had just learned to make three different types of orchids in the class.
I asked my co-worker how many, what type, color, and size. I spread the work out over five nights. I was volunteering to make these, so I wasn't getting paid for my time or materials.

1st evening) I made the gum paste,
2nd evening) made centers and started a few petals,
3rd evening) finished petals,
4th evening) attached the throats,
5th evening) assembled and dusted with color.

I think they look beautiful!

Well, I brought the orchids into work the day before the cake was due and found out that the couple had canceled the cake order. Talk about a way to completely bum you out. I spent all that time and money and the flowers would not be used. It's easy to understand why a bakery should require deposits on special order cakes. And the deposit should not be refundable once work is begun.
The good thing is that I got good practice even if they are not being put on a cake. But the flowers would have been beautiful on top of a wedding cake.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nicholas Lodge's 5-Day Ultimate Gumpaste Flowers Class

The last five days my mother and I attend Nicholas Lodge's 5 Day Ultimate Gumpast Flowers Class. We had a lot of fun. This is my second class with Nicholas (see blog from previous class). Below are the flowers I learned to make this time. The first picture is of all the flowers together.

Below are: left - Cymbidium Orchid, right - Cattleya Orchid

Below are: left - Gerber Daisy, right - Calla Lily

Below are: left - The Ultimate Rose and rose bud, right - Lisianthus

Below are: back - Dendrobium Orchid, middle - Sweet Pea, front - Carnation

Below are: back left - Hydrangea, back middle - Daisy, right - Stephanotis, front left - Lily of the Valley

Below are: back left - Fern, back center - Eucalyptus, right - Fern, front center - Variegated Ivy, front left - Birds Foot Ivy

Below are: Gardenia

Below are: Stargazer Lily

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sad but Good News

Well, after the two weeks of working two jobs, I reached my limit. It was too many hours and too much stress. Don't get me wrong I could do either job well, but either is the operative word. I was getting better at Commander's Palace each day. But, it was just not for me. So it is sad news in a way, but it is good news because I'm learning and narrowing my goals toward my profession.

I have learned a lot about myself in the last few weeks;

· I can get a job all by myself. Just like at Sucré.
· I am a fast learner.
· Speed is of course needed but takes time to build up.
· That most likely, working in a restaurant is not for me.
· I can do anything I set my mind to do.
· That no matter what you are doing you can't under perform at any job.
· Finally, communication is the absolute way to make life a little easier and work better.

So, it’s back to working at Sucré only, and my little world of chocolate. I enjoyed my learning experience at Commander's Palace even if it was a brief period of time.I know have to reevaluate my goals and decide whether or not going back to school for culinary degree is really what I want to do. Now that I have discovered how I feel after working a Commander's Palace, I have more experience to help in my decision. If I decide not to go back to school, then I will need to figure out what, where, and how to go from here. As the saying goes, life's not always easy.Next week, I'm traveling back to Atlanta to take the 5-Day Ultimate Gumpaste Flowers Class from Nicholas Lodge. This will be my second class with him and I'm so excited! :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Second weekend at Commander's Palace

Boy was it busy! Of course it was Easter this Sunday, and they served just under 800 for brunch. I got to try working on the souffle station. It was a good day to learn a new station because it was Sunday dinner service and there was only 250 for dinner. But I did learn that once you get behind in a service it is hard to catch up quickly. It's also important to prep enough so that you do not run short. On Saturday, I almost cut it close but I made what I was told too. You never know what each service is going to be like.

Work at Sucre is going well. I just got done making Easter Chocolates and now I am working on Mother's Day Chocolates. We have a collection of lemon, raspberry, and rose.

Monday, April 18, 2011

First weekend at Commander's Palace

Wow, am I tired. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I worked at Commander's Palace. The first two days I went in to work at 2 pm and then 2:30 pm on Sunday. Friday was my first full day. I wasn't sure what to expect. I started out prepping (make partial or whole recipes) for desserts. This prep work is not necessarily to be used for the night shift. During the time frame from 2pm to 6pm I have to do prep work and set up for that night. All weekend I did ice (plated desserts). I plated pie, cheese cake, starwberry short cake, chocolate bread pudding, and ice creams. After service everybody cleans up the kitchen from top to bottom. Their kitchen is really clean. I found out the approximate numbers they serve every day for brunch and dinner. On Saturday night we served over 450 guest. Sunday for brunch they served just over 700 guest, and dinner was just over 250 guest. I was suprised since I had never really given it much thought as to how many people are served by a busy restaurant. It is tough trying to switch my schedule from working from 7 am to 5 pm for 4 days and then the next three days working 2 pm to almost 2am.

People ask me what I think about working two jobs, and if I like the new job. To be honest, it is very tough and demanding. But I will adjust to it. There are many things to learn and I have lots of improving to do. But, hey, that is the whole point. So far, I have only worked 4 days at Commander's Palace and I'm still trying to grasp how it is done. Don't misunderstand, I can do the work, it's just getting used to a new environment and learning to do things their way.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Adventure

Well, tonight I had my trail stage at Commander's Palace. Since this was the first time I've tried out for a job, I was excited, nervous, and scared. Of course, I worked in the pastry department. Since it was a Friday night, it was called a sink of swim shift for people doing a tryout for a position. I did a little prep work and then I helped plate desserts the rest of the night. At first I was a little slow, but as I got more comfortable I picked up the pace. Of course I will have a lot of learning to do and will continually work on increasing my speed. At the end of the evening the head Sous Chef pulled me aside to talk, and he told me the people I worked with during the evening liked me. He said he would hire me to work part time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Each day will be approximately 11 hour shifts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Back to Chocolate & Culinary School Choice

Well, I have started back in chocolate world. Yay! We have started making the Easter chocolates: dark chocolate bunnies with a milk chocolate carmel center, peanut butter eggs, and hollow milk chocolate bunnies. The other new products are toffee and a strawberry chocolate. Work is going well.

I had someone ask me this on my blog: "Do you think you'll continue on for the diploma? Or do you not think it is worth it? I'm considering to do the same thing -pastry school with Le Cordon Bleu. I wanted a diploma, but I'm wondering if I should bother, considering the price, I might settle for a certificate. What's your opinion?"

After completing my Associates Degree in Business and then attending another semester at GA. State, I decided to change career direction. I wanted to pursue a Culinary Arts degree and a Patisserie and Baking certificate. I quickly looked at what was available in Atlanta. I quickly realized that I wouldn't be able to start the culinary program at the local vocational-technical school until the next fall. Also, they didn't really offer a good Patisserie and Baking program. Sitting out of school till the next fall did not appeal to me. So, I bit the bullet and took the certificate course in Patisserie and Baking at Le Cordon Bleu (LCB) in Atlanta, as I could start that in January. At the time, LCB only offered the certificate (a 9 month program). After I graduated they started offering an Associates degree as well. I completed the program, served my externship and have been working ever since.

This coming fall, I will pursue an Associates degree in culinary arts at a Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, GA. It is much, much cheaper than somewhere like Le Cordon Bleu. It doesn't have the big name, but from talking with several chefs that I know, it has a very good reputation.

What would I recommend? Everybody learns differently. Some people can learn from books. Some learn by doing. Some learn best by being shown. For me, being shown how to do things helped build the confidence I needed to move on. A culinary school can not make a person a chef. The role of a culinary school is to teach the fundamentals so that a person can be somewhat knowledgeable in a cooking role in the industry. In other words, hopefully, someone graduating from culinary school won't walk in the professional kitchen on the first day and totally make a fool of themselves. I believe that after graduating from a culinary school you face far more learning after landing your first job. Based on my experience at LCB, I would search for the best culinary program available at a local state vo-tech school. Spending the big bucks will not necessarily get you a better education.

As to deciding between a certificate and a diploma program, I think it depends on your goals. A diploma program generally has more business type classes which may help if a management or business is the goal. Since I had planned on getting an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, it wasn't necessary for me to also get a diploma in Patisserie and Baking. Both diploma programs would have the same business classes. Personally if I was going for only one of them, I would go for the diploma program as I would one day like to own a bakery/restaurant.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sorbet and Mardi Gras

Today, I went to work and made my apple sorbet for Tariq, the Executive Pastry Chef. He told me to come up with some flavors for the new menu. I put apple sorbet as an idea. You may have read a while back that I made it for my high school chef for the charity dinner party he was catering for. Tariq told me the only problem was that it comes out grainy. I told him I could make one that is not grainy. So, he told me go ahead. I went to work to make it and let him try it. He liked the texture but said it was a bit sweet, so he told me to add a little salt, and a little more glucose. Glucose lets the sorbet stay soft while in the freezer, and helped it melt a tad. His helpful critique made the sorbet 10 times better. He thought I had a very good apple sorbet. Even my Grandparents and Aunt loved it.

The other night I went to go see three parades with my Aunt. I saw Knights of Babylon, Knights of Chaos, and Krewe of Muses. It was the first time in years I had been to a Mardi Gras parade and I had a blast.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sarah's Baby Shower Cake

Well, this week I was busy prepping for Valentine's Day weekend at work and then making the baby shower cake for my cousin's baby shower. Oh boy, did I work hard.

The cake is white chocolate cake, raspberry jam filling, and almond Swiss butter cream. It was absolutely fabulous. Even the fondant tasted good. I had lots of fun decorating the cake with fondant. I made the blocks out of rice crispy treats, and the cherry blossoms are gum paste. I'm tickled pink over my 1st real fondant cake. Yes, there are still things I need to work on, but it's all in the practice. That makes it all the more fun for me.
The shower announcement was the inspiration for the theme of the cake.
Here I am working on the cake at work.

The baby shower cake.

Monday, February 7, 2011

First week of Gelato

I started my very first week of making and running the gelato station at work. Boy is it busy and fun. This is the first time I am in charge of something this big. Well, big to me. I got the order in Monday and both stores together ordered 142 pans of gelato. That's about 31 to 35 spins (a process in the ice cream batch freezer) depending on what type of gelato or sorbet they request. If I did nothing else but set up spins and run them in my scheduled time, I could only fit in 11 spins each day. But since that is not the case I might only get to 9 spins. I also got an order on Wednesday but it was not as bad.

I'm enjoying all the hard work I am putting into my new position.

The funny thing is that the girl I worked with while doing chocolate has now decided to leave. So either at the end of February or after Mardi Gras season I will be back to making chocolate and the king cake maker will be making gelato. My career is not boring that's for sure. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Graduation from Le Cordon Bleu

Today I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Atlanta
I earned a Patisserie and Baking Certificate.
I also graduated with High Honors (gold cord) and Exemplary Attendance (red cord)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Culinary School

Today I went to Gwinnett Technical College and tied up a few loose ends and pushed things through in the admission process. I got lucky in that the head of the culinary department was able to fit me into her schedule so I could do my interview with her. So now all the paper work is done, interview done, and my last two transcripts from Le Cordon Bleu and high school, should arrive early next week. Basically I just have to wait for a formal acceptance letter. It's exciting to think about going back to school to learn some more. It will be nice to be at home as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Something New

Since the busy season is dying down, the bosses are going to have me start working with Larkin, the gelato man at Sucré. I'm really looking forward to learning more. Speaking of learning more, I am applying to culinary school to learn the hot food side now. YEA!

I made my first white lasagna on Monday, and it had lots of good flavor. The only thing is I should have used half and half (instead of heavy cream) for the sauce and more spinach. I had fun making it.

I am on count down till my graduation ceremony for Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta. I'll have to fly up to Atlanta for the weekend. I graduate with High Honors and Exemplary Attendance. I'm so happy!