Time flies! It’s been 14 months since I left the corporate world and 11 months since my move to Sydney. Looking back, much has been achieved during this period and I am truly grateful for the opportunities that came along.
Now, to finish off my blog series on Superior Cuisine….the all exciting Restaurant Classes!
First, a description of what the Restaurant Class entails – basically, it is a weekly ‘lesson’ during which we run the entire kitchen in our school’s Ambassador Restaurant. For each session, every student was allocated a different role in either the bread, canape, entree, mains, dessert or petit fours section. Each student was also given the opportunity to lead as Chef De Partie of the respective session at least once throughout the Restaurant Class series. Prior to each service, we were given a menu which is totally new to us – we were then required to prepare everything from scratch within 4-5 hours and be ready for service time. Although we entered each service without having prepared the menu before, it is amazing how we were always able to pull ourselves together to deliver a very successful service (of course, there were minor and not-so-minor incidents now and then….but there’s always someone to save the day eventually!).
Below are the 3 menus we served over 6 weeks of restaurant classes –
On week 2, I was tasked to be Chef De Partie of Desserts section. It was also the day my parents were scheduled to dine at the restaurant. I remember this day vividly – it was a day of extreme kitchen chaos!!! In the midst of our busyness, I managed to obtain second degree caramel burns on 4 of my fingers. To top it off, 3 other students suffered bloody injuries that were major enough to be sent to the first aid office – this meant that one third of the team was injured during that service! As a result, Chef Tristan was so busy filling up adminstrative forms explaining the nature of our injuries – so sorry Chef. In spite of all these, we managed to deliver a successful service with no complains
[LEFT] PETIT FOURS – prepared by yours truly on Week 1. Petit Fours may seem simple but I sure learnt that they take longer to prep than one expects!
[RIGHT] CHEESE TROLLEY – I was also in charge of bringing the cheese trolley out to the floor and offering silver service to guests who chose the cheese platter for their dessert course. To do that, I had to know each kind of cheeses well and also be able to hold a conversation with the guest while cutting and serving the cheeses – pretty fun!
[LEFT] ROAST PUMPKIN & RAISIN TORTELLINI, KERVELLA GOATS CHEESE, WALNUTS & SAGE BURRE NOISETTE (by Me) – it was great fun making these tortellinis in bulk.
[RIGHT] SEAFOOD BOUDINE, TOMATO COULIS with TABLE SMOKED PACIFIC OYSTERS
[LEFT] BRIOCHE & BUTTER PUDDING with RASPBERRY COULIS & VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM (by Me & My Team)
[RIGHT] ASSIETTE OF CHOCOLATE (by Me & My Team) – white chocolate bavarois, warm chocolate strudel, chocolate marquise, citrus & tarragon salad
BREAD BASKET consisting of SOURDOUGH/FOCACCIA/BAGUETTES/GOUGERES (by Me) – For the final week of Restaurant Class, I requested to be on bread section because I love bread-making and I find it extremely therapeutic. Since I had complete freedom on what breads to make, I chose some of my all time favorites of course!
For the sourdough, I created a biga starter at home the day before – as it was winter, I found it extremely hard to keep it at the temperature ideal for fermentation. Eventually, I ended up switching on the electric blanket and tugging my biga to bed As for the baguette and focaccia, I went to school 1 hour earlier at 6.30am so as to allow the bread to ferment over a longer period of time – thus creating more flavors.
[LEFT] GOUGERES – Savory choux puffs which I made while waiting for my doughs to prove. These savory puffs proved to be a hit among the guests and quite a few of them asked about what and how they were made.
[RIGHT] FOCACCIA – My all time favorite – if only there were some black olives available…
Being Chef De Partie for the Mains section on Week 5, I experienced the mean feat of producing a couple of very resource intensive dishes. It was a challenge but with great teamwork from my 2 commis chefs, we managed to deliver the below –
[LEFT] MAINS: SMOKED LAMB LOIN with POLENTA CAKE, PETIT RATATOUILLE, JUS & ROSEMARY AIOLI (by Me & My Team)
[RIGHT] MAINS: SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN BREAST with TRUFFLE MOUSSELINE, FONDANT POTATO, BABY SPINACH & PORCINI SAUCE (by Me & My Team)
Looking back, I really miss the times and camaraderie we built during Restaurant Classes… I must say those were some of the best days of my life in LCB!