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  • Writer's pictureEliana

Day 40: A World War. Me Vs. Chef.

Level 2 final here I come! We took the final written exam, which I tend to hit a home run on (got a 97%- only question I missed was an example of one of the recipes we used mixed cooking for. I mixed that one up). We pretty much acted like cows in a meadow all morning doing nothing, but watching the time go. We ate lunch and then went upstairs for our practical exam. Now, even though I do very well on the written exams (I would hope so after 6 years worth of two degrees), I was yet another epic failure on the practical part. We had four simple tasks to complete under a certain amount of time. We had to quarter a chicken, fillet a flatfish, make Creme Chantilly and pipe out ecaliars, and then make Creme Anglaise sauce (vanilla sauce).

First up was quartering of the chicken. Oh my word, did I have trouble on that one. I pretty much took the word butchery and brought it to a whole ‘nother gruesome level. I could not for the life of me find the wishbone! That little bone is the best hide and seeker ever to walk this land. I was busy touching, poking, and cutting until finally I pulled it out (barely!). After that, I was all dazed and almost defeated, but I kept on trucking. I dislocated the wings and attempted to machonner the joints (trim the bones/skins/fat--> but then chef later brought it to my attention that I didn't machonner them. I guess our definitions of "machonner" are different because I really thought that I did that). I moved on to the legs and carefully removed the oysters. I set my knife down for one second and the next thing I know it drops onto the floor. Oh great! Watch your toes! Then I had to take out the kill bone. Well, by the end of me attempting to take the kill bone out, it looked like a huge pitbull had chewed and spit it out. To say that I took out the kill bone would be saying it gently. I KILLED the kill bone. I then cut the chest out and left the fillets on the table. I'm going to need some tutoring on quartering chicken ASAP. Probably should have done that before the final- oops!

Then we had to fillet the fish, which I did pretty well on! I was able to fillet it in time and skin the fillets nicely. After that we made the Creme Chantilly. You just whip extra heavy cream with sugar until it reaches the right consistency. After that you put it into pastry bags and pipe out éclair shapes and meringue shapes.

We are about to enter into WW3. Everyone please put on your bullet proof vests and ensure that your doors are locked. I repeat going into a code red. Dun-dun-dun... Creme Anglaise! More like creme pain in my butt. This simple vanilla sauce can be really tricky I tell you. You need to boil your milk while beating your 5 egg yolks with sugar. Once your milk has come to a boil you add a little bit of the milk into your whipped eggs to temper them. Then you pour the tempered eggs back into the pan with the boiled milk and heat it until it naps the back of your spoon. Well, all was well until we had to use the flatop/stove. There were 8 of us for 6 stoves ON top of one another! I had to use the flatop because the stoves were all taken. The flatop was hotter than expected and instead of making creme Anglaise I made scrambled Anglaise. I runied it and heated it for too long that the eggs scramble!

Oh no, what do I do? I asked Chef and the Sous Chef John who was also proctoring the final. Both of them just gave me blank stares and said ALL the ingredients were already put away. PUT AWAY!?!?! I have 20 more fricking minutes! Ha PUT AWAY! Well, someone needs to go help me fetch them out because I am doing this AGAIN! I scrambled the eggs and now my sauce is chunky! Chef Dominique has this thing about him where he makes this face as though it’s the end of the world and goes on a little tangent about how it’s a huge deal if we mess up. Okay- I get that it’s a huge deal… but, I tuned him out. The clock is ticking- tears are beginning to stream down my face. Once I start to speak the tears become Niagara Falls. Oh jesus Eliana! Get a grip why don’t you! Omg Omg I’m going to fail (75% is failing)- I’m going to have to repeat this whole level- I’m quitting blah blah goes my inner monologue. Then I decide to open up my big mouth while tears are streaming down everywhere (shadily so embarrassed, but can’t fight them back for the life of me) I tell Chef Dom and Chef John “ No where on any final paper does it say you have ONE shot to get the recipe correct or if you mess up you can’t do it again. It states that you have 30 minutes to do Crème Anglaise and I have only used up 10, so technically I still have 20 more minutes on the clock. If neither of you allow me to continue, I will just have to go and speak with someone in charge!”. After I “lawyered” both of their behinds, they had to let me redo it. Neither of them helped me find any of the ingredients. We were in a new kitchen and I didn’t know where anything was. Some of the students in the class helped me gather the ingredients because they felt bad, but the ingredients should have never been put away till EVERYONE was done or the time was up! Thanks a lot! Whatever- and moving on.

Continuing to fight back tears, I am slaving away eggs are going everywhere. At this point I don’t even care that I didn’t save the darn egg whites! I turned the heat on, brought my milk to a boil, whipped my eggs, tempered my eggs, reheated the milk and eggs, passed it through the strainer, and then bam! I made it perfectly. At the end Chef’s came over to put water on the fire and made sure everything was ok with me and that I did a good job. I ended up with a 91% on the technical exam, but I wasn’t a happy camper, I could tell you that much.

We start level 3 tomorrow with Chef Veronica. She seems like a real ball buster and I’ve heard some serious stories. She doesn’t take any crap from anybody. Oy Vey- this should be interesting.

Level 2 Class Photo.



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