Lessons 51-52: Plating Design II

Friday, February 5, 2010

On Thursday and Friday our class was taught by Chef James.  We originally thought he would be our permanent chef for module 3, but we were informed that he was only a fill-in until Chef Erica came back from Vietnam and resumed her position as our module 3 chef.

This was our first time being taught by Chef James and I was pleasantly surprised as he energetically entered our kitchen on Wednesday, shouting out orders for our mise en place.  It was only 12:30 and usually the instructors have us sit and listen to a lecture before we begin any real prepping or cooking.  He had us off to a good start before the class even begun!

I really enjoyed the way the classes were organized on Thursday and Friday.  As opposed to Wednesday's class, each group would mise en place a different recipe, but we would all prepare and plate every single recipe.  On Wednesday, I felt like I had no idea what went into the other recipes, but during these past days I felt that I was a part of everything.  Chef James also showed us some interesting plate designs and demonstrated new techniques.

The dishes we prepared on Thursday included Arctic Char with a Citrus Salad and Fines Herb Oil:

Quail with Sweetbread Stuffing, Fois Gras Bread Pudding, Macerated Cranberries, and Butternut Squash Puree:
Venison Medallions with Chestnut Red Wine Reduction, Butternut Squash Pine Nut Relish, and Wild Mushroom Gratin:
All of the dishes were wonderful!  At the end of class Chef told us all what each team should plan on mise en place'ing for Friday's class.

On Friday we arrived in kitchen 1401 ready to prepare today's recipes.  There was very little lecture, so we all got right to work and everything went very smoothly.  My group prepared the short ribs and immediately began trimming the fat and silver skin from the meat and searing it off in saute pans.  After adding the meat to a mixture of caramelized mirepoix, red wine, herbs, and spices, we let the short ribs slowly cook in the oven for the remainder of class.

The other dishes we plated included Sea Scallops with a Grapefruit Citrus Salad:
Roasted Poussin with Pureed Potatoes and Carrots Vichy:
Short Ribs over Roasted Pepper & Garlic Polenta and Sweet & Sour Turnips:
We had a little difficulty with the presentation of the short ribs because we realized the polenta and the carrot & turnip puree were the same color.  One important part of plating is making sure there there is a contrast of colors on the plate, so we tried to think of a solution to bring out a different color.  Chef found some extra red peppers, so we roasted them (plus a head of garlic) to add to the polenta (hoping for a red-ish color).  Ironically, we ended up forming the exact same color as the puree, so only one side-dish was used for every plate.

These past two days have been great and I definitely learned a lot, but I must confess I am a little relieved to get a new chef instructor on Monday.  Chef James was an amazing instructor and really knew his stuff, but he was just too good looking (and now I pray he never finds this blog), so I was extremely nervous these past couple of days.  I found myself really afraid to ask questions and just freezing up when he was watching me chop or cook.  I wasn't going to confess this on my public blog, but I thought it was really funny and there is no way the other girls in class weren't experiencing the same thing I was.  I mean, come on... he was CUTE (and had amazing knife skills)!  Too bad he's married... and has a baby... :(  One can only dream! 

I hope everybody survives the blizzard this weekend!  I am not very happy about it ruining all of my weekend plans!  My mom and I have a serious rummikub tournament planned for tomorrow, though!


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