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  • Writer's pictureEliana

Day 16: Class after a Red-eye

The day after a long weekend is always a tough one. Everyone has to go back to “twerk” (work… for those of you who didn’t get it) or for me culinary school. Now being that these Tuesdays are already pain staking enough, I for some reason decided that it would be a good idea to take the red eye from Vegas to NYC Monday night. Not only were we delayed an hour leaving Vegas at 10:30 pm (1:30 am EST), but also arrived an hour behind at 6:30am. Basically, I could have been cast as a Zombie out of the movie the “walking dead” after spending Thursday- Monday night in Vegas (poor me, I know). I missed a test on Friday, so I was supposed to retake it today. From the airport, I rushed home- literally dropped my bags off, made instant oatmeal (cook time: 1 min), brushed my teeth, did not change my airplane clothes (had NO time), grabbed my study guide, made an emergen-C drink, and dashed out the door without even my wallet. Off I headed for Soho to finally face Chef Jeff again who was busy vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard with his family for the past week.

Chef Jeff spoke me to again about my focusing problems. I agree with him and am not arguing, but I do try SO hard to pay close attention. But, Chef Jeff when you drop a bomb on the class that your wife is Chinese, how do you expect me to focus when I have a million and a half questions to ask! He’s very American. You all know I adore kids (yes, I already asked what his kids names are). I especially love the cutest little American dumplings and couldn’t stop picturing Chef Jeff babies running around. I was obviously the only one that couldn’t get over his Chinese wife, but no one knew that because it was all in my head. I just kept picturing what the family portrait looked like. Guess that’s why the sugar burned and didn’t caramelize the right way (oops!). But between getting sidetracked about his family and all Chef Jeff’s sexual innuendos (we cooked duck today and he taught us how to figure out where the head and butt are- he made an analogy to drunk sex (uhh, chef Jeff talk about having your mind somewhere else!?!) it’s hard to be SO serious. By 1pm today, I actually did not pay attention to his demo and basically fell asleep while standing up with my eyes opened (note to self: NO MORE RED EYES).

We learned all about Duck today. We made two dishes a quail stuffed with rice and sausage pilaf and Duck in Orange sauce. My partner today was Alexandra (only goes by Xandra). She is the ultimate southern girl with the heaviest Louisiana drawl you’ve ever heard, y’all. She has red, brown, and blonde highlights in her hair and came to culinary school straight out of high school. Between the two of us today in the kitchen, we were more pathetic than Dumb and Dumber. Basically, Ms. Southern Xandra takes her sweet behind nine hours to do everything. My blood pressure, working with Xandra, was rising to levels almost as high as my worst nightmare of a student Betanist (2nd/3rd grader I taught during Teach for America that not only threw his notebook and pencil at me, but also screamed to my face “stupid white b**** cracker”). Xandra is very kind, but she is lazier than I am in the kitchen, especially when it comes to cutting veggies. She pretty much pawned that ALL on me and was busy working on one step at a time instead of multitasking. We were the last to finish with our duck in orange sauce because I burned the sugar and she didn’t reduce the sauce enough, so we had to make some remedies to salvage our dishes. However, they both turned out delicious, but could use some improvements (probably us not working together).

(Picture 1- Duck in an orange sauce. Picture 2- Quail with the stuffing inside)

The difficult thing about culinary school is that we learn SO many different techniques and recipes everyday, which we are just expected to remember how to do and store in our repertoire. Things that I learned in the first week- keep reappearing. Half the time my brain is in overdrive and I never have time to pump the brakes and put my gears into a parked position in order to remember everything I did. This level one is over Monday, which means Chef Jeff’s “special” student is moving up to level two! Well, cross your fingers. And yes he actually yelled at Xandra today and told her he already had one “special” student (aka me). He also didn’t believe that I didn’t scream on lobster day when we had to kill a live Lobster. Chef Jeff definitely doesn’t know who he is truly dealing with. I like to tell myself that he calls me “special” out of love. One thing is for certain, he will not forget me- oh no. I have the most potential to grow because you can’t go anywhere but up from the bottom. (Cue Drake’s (raper)song…. Started from the bottom now we hear).

For lunch we were able to eat our quail with the stuffing. Xandra and I took the extra rice stuffing and cooked it (there was a raw egg in it) and made an interesting take on fried rice.

Tomorrow Chef Jeff advised Xandra and I that we will be working with Sagot (that’s his last name, but doesn’t go by Stephen his first name) and Carlos. I got paired with Sagot and Xandra with Carlos. Both of these boys are super intense and great with detail in the kitchen, so I have to “humor” Chef tomorrow by just being a focused rock star. Tomorrow is beef day! All about steaks- get readyyyy my stomach is already growllllling (roar). Apparently Vegas got the best of me! The silver lining here is because Xandra and I worked like snails, that we ran out of time to tournage potatoes--- SCORE!

Kisses from the “Cook”!


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