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One of the first rules of the kitchen is to not eat something if you don’t know what it is. This may seem a little odd, as surely everything we make is edible and fit for consumption….and yes, for the most part it is. But that doesn’t mean everything is something you actually want to be eating.

Pigeon. You probably don’t want to eat this.

I’ve witnessed too many times when someone will think something is something it isn’t, take a big gulp, and then run gagging to the nearest place to spit it out.

The first time this happened, one of my classmates was passing out the egg whites we needed for a recipe, neatly separated into little cups. Another classmate, noting the yellowish color and the heat in the kitchen, jokingly thanked her for the refreshing “lemonade”. My partner, overhearing the conversation but not realizing that it was a joke, immediately took a nice, big swig.

I looked over just in time to see him spitting the entire mouthful into the sink with a force that could rival Vesuvius.

I couldn’t stop laughing. Seriously, why would she be passing out lemonade in the middle of class??

One of the appetizers–Beef and Bass Tartar. Whether this is something safely edible in its raw form seems to be a matter of opinion.

The second incident happened during our Restaurant service. This particular classmate was hovering over my bench, looking into the various containers I had prepared for the meat station, and commenting on each one. I stood nearby cleaning up some dishes.

Appetizer #2

“It’s a Pomagranate coulis.” I hear her say authoritatively to another classmate.

I tried to interrupt and correct her, but she ignores me and keeps talking.

“… and what a beautiful bright read color…”

Then, she reaches over to dip her finger into the mixture. I open my mouth to stop her— but it’s too late. She’s already licked it.

“Funny, it doesn’t taste like anything…”

She looks slightly puzzled, and I take advantage of the momentary silence to get her attention.  “It’s a raw pigeon liver puree we’re going to use to thicken the jus,” I tell her. As to what happened next…can’t say I’ve ever seen anyone run to a sink faster.

Whatever. If you eat someone else’s pigeon liver puree without asking, you get what you get.

Rabbit on a bed of pasta

As for Restaurant service, I thought this round went much better than the first time. A lot of this was due to the fact that we generally had a better idea of how things were going to happen, but I also have to give a lot of the credit to our station’s chef de partie.  As I mentioned last time, Each station has one student to manage the orders and direct the cooking, while the rest of us, well, cook. We had a lot of stuff going on at our station, but the classmate in charge did a really good job keeping things under control.

a seafood risotto, with skewered shrimp and a small filet of fish.

I was on team pigeon. Pigeon isn’t something commonly eaten in America, and I’m not sure I’ve ever had it before. It was surprisingly messy, and seemed like it took a rather long time to prepare for such a little bird—nothing like spending a couple hours up to your elbows in pigeon blood to make you reconsider your career choices. I was really surprised how deep red the meat was. We cooked it sous vide (another first for me), and then browned it in butter at the time of service. This ensures that the meat is perfectly cooked and juicy every time. I was in charge of sauces, so I had the aforementioned jus and liver puree to take care of, as well as a cauliflower puree. A third classmate was in charge of making potato pancakes topped with butter and crushed almond dragees. It was a kind of unexpected combination, but they were delicious.

The egg/seafood dishes waiting under the lights for the server to come pick them up

I was really proud of how we did. I know some groups still struggled a little bit, but I think by dinner service this round, my group was really prepared, and things kind of “clicked.” Not to say we didn’t have our share of hiccups, but overall it went surprisingly well. I think our next one is in 2 weeks….I have high hopes for that one now. If this week is any indication, we are well on our way to mastering this game.

My partner assembling our Pigeon dish. Served with the almond-cauliflower puree and the jus. Potato Pancakes served on the side.

Video Bonus:: I filmed a short snippet of RS, before we got busy.  Of course, it’s when things are really busy that they get really interesting, but there’s no time for movie making then. You’ll just have to use your imagination. But you can see the classmates writing down the orders (on the rim of the stove, with dry erase markers) and giving directions. Chef is barking a new order that just came in, and is answered by a resounding “oui chef!” Then I accidentally turned my camera on my classmate, who apparently doesn’t like to be filmed. Couldn’t help giggling at his disapproving look.

Question:: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?

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