Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sous-what? Oh dear...

I did feel better Tuesday morning, but was nervous since I knew today would be our first day in the kitchen. How would I measure up? I figured we'd take it easy on our first day and the team effort involved in making stocks would allows us all to ease into life in the kitchen. And everything was fine during the morning lecture. We were shown how to hold a knife (I knew I was holding it the 'correct' way from a previous class) and the various ways to cut an onion (who knew slicing was done that way?). As time approached for lunch and eventually kitchen time, I got slightly more nervous, but by time Chef appointed me sous chef for one of the teams I was a twitchy nervous wreck.

Luckily, the tasks were straightforward and I had a very willing crew. Chef was very clear with timing and instructions, so I was able to easily translate them to my team. At one point, I worried that I had done something wrong to the chicken stock because it was so fatty and oil, but Jessica reminded me that we had yet to skim it.

In fact, the only 'mistake' we made was following the directions in the book more closely than even the other team or Chef had anticipated. For the fish stock we made, the textbook said that we were to sweat the mirepoix first in clarified butter, which we did. The other team missed that step, but the slight difference in preparation allowed us to actually taste the difference afterwards. (A surprisingly big yet subtle difference.)

The only stock no one particularly enjoyed tasting (or smelling) was the court bouillon. I think none of us were prepared for the sharp tang of the vinegar when all had our tasting--each of us puckered.

Although it's only been two days, I'm beginning to see what the others in the class are like and how they work. I think it's possible that the kitchen actually emphasizes people's personalities... I'm interested to see how friendships work themselves out in this group.