According to the calendar, I have 7 more Sundays sans culinary school. While I’ve been enjoying my summer holiday immensely, I’m also itching to get back into the groove of the kitchen and get back to my school friends. Also, I’m afraid I might suddenly forget the difference between a fond blanc and a fond brun, or forget the measurements of a brunoise cut, versus a macédoine, versus a parmentière. Quick, quick, what are the leading sauces? Béchamel, espagnole, tomato, hollandaise, veloute and demi-glace. Phew!
During the upcoming trimester, I have Introduction to Baking and Pastry to look forward to. Legend has it, that class usually gets out early and laden down with treats. See, the school has a strict policy that food does not leave the building. So if we don’t eat it for lunch or dinner, it gets put in the garbage. I understand the fear – if someone brings something home and stores it improperly, and it makes them sick, the school can be blamed. Their issue with donating the food to a shelter is similar. I get it. But seeing the amount of food that is dumped is heart-sickening. There have been a few moments when I’ve seen a little foil package of leftovers somehow “jump” into someone’s bag and “accidentally” escape. I’ll say no more about those incidents. But I have heard that the pastry chef is a tad more lenient about letting the occasional baguette or croissant go on a road trip.
Also coming this fall is Beverage Service. I’m expecting to enjoy this class as much as I did Dining Room. Secretly, there’s a part of me that loves to serve people. I love the rituals. And I love the way you can make a person feel happy and taken care of with such simple gestures.
In the meantime, I’ve been doing what I can to keep up my own personal momentum. Though it’s always a struggle to keep a balance between work, family and other pursuits, I’ve tried to cook, blog, visit restaurants and farmers’ markets, and read and follow recipes as much as possible over the course of the summer. I still can’t watch cooking competitions on television. Watching a show like Top Chef only reminds me how much I have to learn. I watch as these chefs are dropped into a convenience store to make a dish out of only gas station foods. “Could I have done that?” I ask myself. “Would I know what to do with bull testicles?” Uhhhh… no.
But that’s ok. I’m learning. I’m experimenting. And someday, when I’m deftly preparing Rocky Mountain oysters with a flourish, I’ll look back and appreciate the journey.