Just a month ago, I was preparing for my first practical. Today, I had my second practical and I was pretty nervous. This test took more skill and strength than our first examination mainly because we were dislocating chicken bones and filleting fish.
Our first challenge was to break down a chicken into four pieces: thighs and breasts. The chickens were frozen, and I was a little nervous I was going to butcher my finger instead of the chicken because my fingers were so numb. It took me longer than expected to maim this bird, but I still made it within our 15 minute timeframe.
Our second 15-minute challenge, was filleting a flatfish, which yields four fillets. I find filleting an art form. You need a gentle hand to catch all the flesh without cutting into the fillet. But the most difficult part? Skinning the fish. And on my test, my knife went a little too close to the skin and cut through–leaving some skin left on the fillet. I did a little surgery with my scissor to remove as much as possible, but still lost a point for the dots of skin left on the fillet.
The second part of our final was more relaxing: Piping whipped cream (chantilly) to exhibit our piping skills and making a creme anglaise, or vanilla sauce. Both proved successful for me, and I walked away passing my second practical exam.
It was our last day with Chef Dominique, and we were all sad about arriving to class tomorrow and not seeing this smiling Frenchman. Chef had a fatherly touch–you could tell he cared about each of his students when he’d put his arm around your shoulder when you did a good job or when he took extra time to show us how to make recipes that weren’t in our book. And after having him for two levels, it was tough to say goodbye. But he left us with these words:
“Guys, remember, I was your first chef.”
And in my words, he was the best.
TIP OF THE DAY: If you’re decorating with whipped cream, don’t over whip the cream. It’ll look grainy when piped. Whip it until the cream develops firm, but smooth peaks.