Sunday, October 01, 2006
Am not happy...so very not happy with this class. Y'all, I am not feeling the banquet love, and I'm kinda worried about my survival for the next 10 weeks.
Again, this class is a large one--there's about 12-13 of us, I think. There was so much running around on Thursday, that I'm really not sure of the exact number.
The first thing that Chef Banquet does is hand out a practical for the day. We have to fabricate a chicken, cook it by one of the prescribed methods (fricassee, baked, or fried), and serve it with a side of rice pilaf and a vegetable timbale.
No recipes, no list of ingredients, nothing. Just words on a piece of paper. Oh, and we also had to serve an appropriate sauce, too. The chicken fricassee folks had that part made, since the sauce was already built in for them. And, we could only use salt, pepper, garlic, and onions as the flavorings...no herbs or extra spices.
My luck of the draw was baked chicken with basamati rice pilaf and a roasted garlic savory custard timbale. I know how to bake the chicken and make the rice, but the garlic custard was going to be a problem. I had glanced over the technique before class, but the ratios were going to be an issue, since we only needed to do 2 servings. I had hoped that we might at least get an ingredient list for that, since the only time in my life I had ever seen one of these things was last quarter. And, it didn't really turn out then, either, even with Chef Regional's help.
I froze up when I had to cut the chicken...I know I was overthinking it, and I was trying hard not to look at anyone else...it was a practical test of my skills, after all. And, it didn't help that during my contemplation of my chicken, Head Chef wanders through class and barks out that it's just a chicken, so just do something with it! Thanks...love that confidence booster.
So, I butchered the chicken mightily...actually, just the breasts, because my thighs and legs looked good. And, the wings...the wings were fine, too. The breasts were sort of mangled. The good news is I was not alone in my mangling...other folks mangled their chickens, too.
Again, my chicken was a little overcooked, the sauce was crap, and the custard was a flop, but my rice was fine. It was seasoned right and not overcooked. That's probably what saved me from actually getting a zero for a grade. It was not pretty, not pretty at all. I realize that she's just trying to assess the class as to everyone's skill level, but it really didn't help my confidence when she wrinkled her nose and made the "eeeuuuuwww" face when she tasted my sauce.
The class dynamic is going to be "interesting," which is the word you use in politely company when you don't want to sound coarse and vulgar, or say how you really feel. There are folks from all different levels in the class, and some of them have formed cliques with "interesting" attitudes towards others who've been in school for less time. Of our merry little band from Regional, only the Cutest Chiclet, Mother Hen, and I are there. Everyone else is ahead of us, school-wise, and a few of them have made it plain that they have no use for anyone but themselves and a select few who they consider to be on their level. Geez, can we go back to high school already?
It's just food, people, not rocket science. And, we are all adults in this class...the majority of students are 25 and over. Sure, there's going to be some who have more of a flair or a gift for it, or a bit more knowledge, but how about let's cut the lesser mortals a little slack? Remember--teamwork is supposed to be our watchword.
There's one in particular who can really make your blood boil. Let's christen her "Wannabe," because she "wanna be in charge and demonstrate her superior knowledge so bad, she can't stand it." We all know the type...in business, she's the one who takes it upon herself to put herself in charge of projects, makes everyone suffer with her bossiness, then complains when a)no one helps, or b) no one recognizes her greatness, capabilities, how much work she had to do alone, etc. She's also mistress of the obvious, too. I was washing down the range, and she walks by while I was doing it and says, "you need to clean the stove." Um, WTH do you think I was doing? Knitting a tea cosy? And, I don't remember Chef putting you in charge of sanitation today, anyway.
Next, we were working on the floors, and I had brought up the mop bucket with cleaning solution. (We've got this stuff that you throw on the floor, scrub it around with brushes and squeegee it off and let it dry...no rinsing required, which is great.) I had slopped a little out on the floor and was waiting for someone to move out of my way so I could sort of fling the rest of it across the floor without drowning them, when Wannabe comes up and asks, "do you want me to show you how to get more coverage on the floor?"
I just looked at her and said, "why don't you do that," and walked away. Like I can't figure out how to throw water on the floor...geez.
I freely admit that I really didn't have my head in the game on Thursday, and I wasn't in the best of moods for a variety of reasons, which included my poor showing in class, but dealing with her was just more than I could take. It was probably a good thing that I had already packed up my knives, or I might be writing this little missive from the county jail where I would be waiting my arraignment and looking not so hot in an orange jump suit (cue the Law & Order gong).
For the folks who know me IRL, you know it's unusual for me not to like someone...heck, I even like Dimmer Switch and Mr. Big Stuff on some level even though they drove me nuts, but this chick really, really grates on my last nerve like a microplane. (Which, by the way, if you don't have a microplane zester, run, don't walk, and get one. It is the zester of the gods!)
I had worked with her last month during the foodbank charity event, and while we all had our assigned jobs to do, she decided that because she had been in charge of the packing checklist, she should be in charge of our booth and direct the serving of food...which again wasn't rocket science, and Chef Banquet, who happened to be actually be in charge of the food service that night, had explained how to do it more than adequately. She was visibly annoying the newbies who were in the booth with us, so much so that they were starting to make mistakes, which escalated her interference even more. Somedays, it's so hard to be an adult. So hard.
I've whined long enough...I'm just crossing my tongs that it's going to be okay, and that I'll survive the next 10 weeks...because it's only going to get more "interesting" as we progress...especially since we're the class that is providing food for the dining room class service this quarter. Whee hoo!