Friday, February 18, 2011

Block 10: Week 1 - Entrees

Block 10 is a whole new ballgame. Our new chef is pretty serious - no more joking around. If you do something stupid, he will call you out in a second. He's a little scary. He's also not afraid to yell when someone is doing something particularly stupid. But he's a good chef. He knows what he's doing, and I like that he doesn't treat us like babies anymore. Basically, we are free to do as we like as long as everything is ready for service and the food is good.

We are cooking lunch in JJ's this block. Each week we are on a different station - appetizers, entrees, vegetables, and dessert. We are divided up into groups like the first few blocks of school. I was somewhat dreading this because while I like everyone in my class, I find it hard to work with some people every day for a whole month. And I had pretty mixed feelings when I found out who was in my group. The best person is my baking partner. Obviously we get along well enough and I have no problems working with him. There's a girl that I'm friends with outside of school, but we have never worked together at school. She's pretty competent, but not very confident. The other two group members are the challenging ones. One is from India and doesn't speak English all that well, and the other is probably the worst cook in the class. He is also extremely slow, which was ok in previous blocks where we didn't have any service, but becomes a huge impediment now that we are in an a la carte kitchen.

The new twist on the groups this month is that one person is designated the leader of the group. This person stays back one day when the rest of the group switches stations and trains the incoming group. Not surprising, I was chosen as one of the leaders. I probably would have taken a bit of a leadership role naturally, but with the title given to me, my group definitely treats me as more of a leader, relying on me for information and help. It's good for me to be in this position, as I definitely want to be a chef at some point in the future, and it's also good for me to learn to work with people who I find difficult. I was told that the two weak students were specifically put in my group so that I could help them along.

This week, we were on entrees station. So we were on the line (and on the camera, for anyone who's been to JJ's before) cooking the meat and fish and pasta. Our station makes a flank steak sandwich on focaccia with horseradish sauce and onion rings, lamb leg and lamb loin, a daily fish special, chicken pot pie, gnocchi with truffle cream sauce and artichoke and portobello mushroom bolognese, and veal ragu with pappardelle. Each day, we make one or two of those items, and then we switch the next day.

I had a lot of fun cooking on the line. It gets pretty hot up there, and chef is watching everything we do, which is nerve wracking, but it's finally more like a real kitchen. Some days, chef thought service didn't go very smoothly, but thinking about it later, I realized that even though we have a group of five people, we are almost really working with just three.

Fun after school activities - bowling with N and W, and lunch at Noodle Box. Going to Relish tonight for Ash's birthday.

Today I applied for a job at a new restaurant that hasn't even opened yet, but it's with an amazing chef and it would be an incredible opportunity. I don't think I'm really good enough to work there, so I'm pretty scared. We'll see what happens.

Next week - dessert station.

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