Friday, July 24, 2009


No matter how proud or good of a student you are, always listen to your teacher (or in my case, chef). I remember the beginning of summer classes and debating whether or not to stay in my menu planning class because of all the outside work. I ended up staying in it because I figured there was no way it would really require THAT much time. hahaha, oh boy was I wrong! I've been working off and on this project ever since he gave it to us, but only really dived in about 2 weeks ago finalizing my menu and figuring out the costs of each ingredient used. Then over the last three days I have been nonstop working on detailing the menu according to our book, marking up the costs to get my selling cost, and finishing my twelve page business plan.
Having just completed the last step of this project (a short speech in which we "sell" our restaurant)--I feel complete relief. Yes, my pricing is probably off, but considering the limited time- I'm quite happy with my menu and concept. For my financial stability paragraph I put that my family used to live in Italy and we sold our land and moved to America to open a restaurant based on my grandmother's dying wishes (haha). I thought about going up for my speech and being like "yeeeeeeeah, I'm secretly rich. I'm funding myself." I figured that wouldn't go over too well....

Anyways, the top pictures are of items I've made lately in my baking class. This coming Wednesday is the last day for that class :-(. Anyways- Chef Easter has been out because he had a stroke, but a former student (Julie) and Chef O'Brien aretaking over for him. We've had a lot of fun making the above items as well as some not pictured. The left picture is of whole wheat loaf bread, white loaf bread, and my BABY (aka sourdough that I developed for seven days). The right picture is almond poppseed muffins & golden raisin currant scones.

In Garde Manger we attempted to make sausages (which I will never eat again). We did everything up to the grinding for the sausage before one of the teams managed to break both of our working grinders. Oh, and this was only after every other group had gone. So therefore, not knowing exactly when the blade edges wore off- we had to throw away all the sausage.....except ours! haha, that's what we get for being patient I suppose. So then we were using the big buffalo grinder and that worked but Chef Boetel managed to short that out right before we could case the meat. Needless to say, we went home early this day :-)

Food Prep 2 has changed since I last blogged. Chef Carey no longer instructs us (which is something I never thought I'd be sad to say). Instead, Chef Miller took over and we are doing demonstrations. This means that he'll give us a recipe the week before, he'll demo it the day of, and then we copy what he did and produce the same thing. Last week we had a delicious Sauteed Chicken with Supreme Sauce and Glazed Carrots. I received at 85/100 because he said it wasn't seasoned quite enough and that my chicken was a tad overcooked (my thermometer stopped working). Then this week we made Beef Stew rimmed with Whipped Potatoes. I received a 90/100 this time only both items needed more seasoning. I've decided I'm going to start arguing with him (advice from a book I'm reading) about his "complaints" on my food. I seasoned the heck out of that stew. It says a pinch and I "pinched" about ten times (no joke). So now, anytime we make something I'm going to season it to my liking and then add double. I wonder if there's something wrong with his taste buds....eating 85 different student's stews can do that to ya, right?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pacific Northwest

I don't even know where to begin on updating you on my life's happenings.
Honestly, I did not expect summer school to go this quickly. Sure eight weeks is a short amount of time to learn a semester's worth of information- but I have learned a TON and the semester is not even over yet. In Food Prep II we just completed making all five mother sauces. Each one proved to have its own difficulties.
Hollandaise- sure enough my very first time making it, it curdled. I tried my best to save it (as did Jimmy) but in the end I had to toss it an start over. Luckily it was a quick recovery and my next attempt proved to be successful. This sauce tasted good, but only in moderation. It's very very rich in butter.
Bechamel- my personal favorite. It took forever to stir, about 45 minutes, but in the end this was hands down the best tasting of all the sauces.
Veloute- my mortal enemy. Seriously, I was working on this sauce the whole time while my classmates breezed on to their third sauce of the day (this was my first). Finally, two slurries later and about an hour and a half later- Chef said it was complete.
Espagnole- Not what I imagined when I thought of brown sauce. Very red in complexion up until we sent it through the sieve in which it then looked brown (true to its name afterall!). At the beginning stages when you're browning the roux it look like stuffing at Thanksgiving time...haha, though I doubt it would taste remotely good.
Tomato- 2nd favorite of mine, it tasted delicious despite being a combination of about 12 students' sauces. It required a lot of time (2 hours in the oven) and constant to prevent ending up with a black tomato sauce, but it was good
In baking we had a "feed the baby" project in which over a period of seven days we take away and add to a levain (or sourdough starter). Today is actually day 7 for me so I'm taking mine a week late and cooking my baby off :-) since I was out of state. We also got to make croissants and danishes which have very rich doughs and lottsa butta!
Garde Manger we have made sandwiches, condiments, crackers, and pickles. Today I personally made a dried apricot relish and sweet coin pickles. Both of which are really good (I can tell already). The pickles take three days to...well, pickle and the relish takes a day. Throughout the week we get to check up on our product (aka sample). We also got in two fresh Ivory Salmon from Seattle that weighed 32Lbs together. They were ginormous! We all got to help scale the fish, fillet it, de-bone it, and scoop out the insides for salmon tar-tar. We grilled one after a short cold brine and it was freakin' awesome. Like 5x better than your normal salmon. The other three fillets we are going to smoke later on in the week.
Menu Planning is getting close to the due date. I finally have a feasible menu (kinda) with all items except five. It is indeed a lot of work and I have two short weeks to complete it all so here's to hoping I can complete it and complete it well.
My recent trip to Seattle gave me some very good insight as that is actually the location for the restaurant that I had in mind. In going there I realized Seattle is a very populated area and has a tooooooon of food options available to the many tourists and locals. Therefore, I decided to instead focus on surrounding cities that are on the rise. I also was able to visit a few restaurants and get ideas. Tutta Bella was probably the largest contributor. I realized that despite their good food and hyped up restaurant, I do not want to be like that. Much too small and not at all the atmosphere I envisioned for my place. Instead, I'm beginning to toy with incorpating something similar to another restaurant, Melting Pot into my Italian restaurant theme. It'll be interesting to see how it all fuses together.
Seattle was indeed awesome and I looved my time there hanging out with my APU friend Alison, hanging with my sister on three different days, and even meeting up with another APU friend, Kevin. I saw a bunch of what Seattle has to offer and I would love to live there someday! Definitely recommend going there any chance you get. Oh and it did not rain one single day I was there (and I was there for 10 days)!