Day 61: Work'n That Buffet Line.
Well, I am officially half way done with my culinary chronicles/experiences and it’s getting sad. I’ve literally gone from knowing nothing, to somehow pulling an A- on my culinary program midterm. We moved into level 4 today, which is buffet and family meal. For the first two weeks, I am on family meal and for the two weeks after that I will be on buffet. Our class gets split up into two groups. My family meal group (we make lunch for the entire school) is Noah, Pandora, Julie, Tyler, Jack, Lashandra, and I. The lucky seven and the rest are in the buffet group. Once the two weeks are up, we switch and move to buffet and they come to family meal. Family meal is where you feed the entire school/staff population of about 250 people lunch everyday. Each day we are assigned a different task in the kitchen. Today I worked with the protein dish, so tomorrow I will move to the starch dish. On our menu today was meatloaf (Shout out to Lashandra and I for making that), broccoli rabe, penne with pesto and tomatoes, mashed potatoes, roasted beets, and salad.
Chef assigned us our spots for the day and we immediately got to work. He expects us to be in the kitchen by 8:30, which is EARLY because technically we do not have to be in till 9. Houston we might have a problem here! I don’t get out of bed till 8! I don’t arrive to school till 8:30. Are you telling me that I can’t snooze my 7:40am alarm three times! Oy vey! Not sure if I’m up for this, but I don’t think I have much of a choice. Lashandra and I were in charge of the meatloaf. We were working with 70 pounds of ground beef! Yeah, that’s right, I didn’t stutter- 70 POUNDS OF BEEF! We used I don’t even know how many eggs, bread crumbs, chopped up herbs, 60 garlic cloves (4 heads about), pepper, salt, etc. Once all the ingredients were mixed in- chef told us to try the RAW meat to see if it was seasoned well enough before cooking it. I was confused- try raw meat covered in raw eggs.. nasty! But, Lashandra is pregnant, so that left me to do all the tasting. Once, I felt as though it was seasoned enough, we formed little meatloaf patties and loaded them into the little tinfoil packages. We then put all, who knows how many, tinfoil packages into the oven and let them cook till they reached the right internal temperature.
Once, they were done, we had to slice them and then prepare the hotel pans for the buffet. We also had to figure out how much food to send down to level 1 and level 2 because we provide them with lunch. Also, we give level 5 and 6 lunch as well. Level 3 you make your own food and don’t have time for lunch. Ha what’s lunch break in level 3? We all helped season the roasted beets with honey and salt. If you did protein, you have to serve the protein on the buffet line. So, of course Lashandra and I took a picture and served everyone the meatloaf as they went down the line.
After family meal aka lunch, we have to prepare for the next day. I drained the chicken stock and had to cool them down. Basically we treat our stocks like professional athletes. Being that the stocks are one of the most important things in the kitchen, they get treated like royalty. Once we strain them, we have to give them an ice bath and then run a paddle through the liquid to cool them down. I never understood why we couldn’t just put the stocks in the refrigerator before they cooled down to 70 degrees. Tomorrow I am preparing the starch dish! This should be interesting. Also, I like level 4 because it is so social and you feed the entire school!