Wednesday, April 28, 2010

They Taste Better

Sooooo..... my Basic Cookery mid-term will not be coming back with a 100 on it :( I know for sure that I missed one question and I'm all tore up inside. I mean really, who knows that WHITE peppercorns are picked ripe and GREEN peppercorns are not? Sheesh. Oh well, while I'm sure that my perfect score is not going to happen, I'm positive I still got an A and that's what really matters.

After the test (and the drying of my tears) we talked about menus and menu planning. It's really interesting stuff. I never really thought about all the different kinds of menus there are:

-Standard/Static: rarely change, large variety (Chili's)
-Daily/Market/Seasonal: based on product availability, can change daily (Bleu River Grille)
-Cycle/Institutional: developed for a set period of time, run on 4,6,8 week cycles (Prison)
-Table d'hote: "hosts table", no choices, complete meal (no idea where you can get this)
-Prix Fixe (Prefix): fixed price for a fixed meal with several courses (like a Valentine's Day "dinner for two deal)
-A la Carte: every item priced seperately (Ruth's Chris' Steakhouse)
-Tasting Menus: multiple small courses, sample of all items, paired with wines (fancy upscale joints - The French Laundry charges around $365 for their tasting menu)

Like I said, interesting stuff. We also talked about having to have full, step-by-step recipes for all your menu items. At which point Chef Porter mentioned needing to jot down a quick recipe if, for instance, your fish purveyor called with a special delivery of baby octopus - "or regular octopus or whatever. I like babies. They taste better" Chef Porter said, much to the delight of the class. You would want to jot down how you prepared that in case it was a hit and you wanted to run the special again.

It was off to Uchi after that. Today was pretty much more of the same. Scallop cleaning, kabocha slicing, negi slivering, cipollini quartering, garlic micro-brunoising, and slicing Thai chilis paper thin. This is where it gets interesting because even though I didn't get to really do anything new, I still had a freaking blast! WOO!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Boeuf Bourguignon

A couple weeks ago, I saw "No Reservations: Techniques". Anthony Bourdain made Boeuf Bourguignon (a very basic beef stew). I've never been a big fan of stew, but as a student of the culinary arts, I'm going to have to make and try a lot of things I'm "not a fan of". So, it looked taaasty and I decided that I would make it. Today, I had enough time to make it. So I did.

The meez (mise en place):
-Beef shoulder roast
-Bay leaf
-Olive Oil
-Dutch oven
-Wine (not pictured)

The idea is that you brown the meat:

Then you brown the onions. Add the wine. Put everything else in and simmer for a couple hours.

I'm not going to call it a full on "win", but it wasn't a "fail" by any means:

I've never had Boeuf Bourguignon before, but it pretty much tasted like pot roast? It's supposed to be fork-tender and some pieces were, but some pieces weren't. I can see now from the picture, that I didn't exactly do a bang up job on the skimming. I think I put in too much liquid, not enough vino, and I had the temp too low for most of the simmer. The Yukon Gold mashed potatoes were excellent though. I'll try this again soon and see if I end up with different results.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pot Pie and Mac N Cheese

I know. I know. I've missed a couple of days. Sorry. Where did we leave off? Oh yes, so my Sanitation mid-term is 300/1000 of my total points for the class. Including my 5 point bonus for winning the review, I came away with a grade of 305. Nice! We're continuing to talk about the effects of heat being applied to food in Basic Cookery. We've talked about cooking vegetables and seasonings vs flavorings. When we talked about different cooking methods - braising, baking, grilling, barbecuing, etc - Chef Porter went on a 30 minute tear about barbecue brisket and made fun of the kid from North Carolina and "his version of barbecue" (she's gaining ground on Miss Jane for favorite instructor).

FUN FACTS!!!: (1) We all know about the "4 flavors" - salt, sweet, bitter, sour - and most everyone is aware of the "5th flavor" - umami (steak, mushrooms, soy sauce, it's that earthy, meaty, savory flavor). APPARENTLY, "they" are about to announce, or have just discovered, or whatever, that the "6th flavor" is fat. Mmmmmmmm..... Which makes sense, because fat doesn't really have any of those other flavors on its own - although a lot of the time, it's associated with delicious pork.

That's my new delicious bacon wallet. (2) Aroma comprises approximately 60% of flavor. How bout that? Think about when you get a cold and you can't smell and food has no flavor. Huh? Am I right? I know.

I've got a mid-term in Basic Cookery next week which promises to be slightly more challenging than the sanitation mid-term. So I'll need to do some studying for that.

I was at Uchi again today from 9-530. It was a long, tiring, great day. I made more yucca and sweet potato chips. I cut more kabochas. I boiled, shocked and shelled more quail eggs. I peeled roasted golden beets. I VERY thinly sliced about 18 bunches of negi (green onion). I diced tof-ew. I julienned nori for some sort of garnish. I cleaned a paint can full of scallops. I julienned sundried tomatoes. I made gremolata which started out as "zest 3 lemons, mince a bunch of parsley and micro-brunoise 4 cloves of garlic". I ended up zesting 15 lemons to come out to the right flavor. However, that was no big deal, since I'm a zesting champ from the Yuzukocho on Wednesday. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

Family meal was great today. Apparently someone made a pot pie yesterday, so they re-heated that and it was delicious. The dude also made mac n cheese with poblanos, panko crust and BACON! BOOM! Also, I overheard the executive pastry chef and one of the other stages (like mirages) talking about MW2 and he got my gamertag (longhornluke). So we should be throwing down on some 360 pretty soon, which is cool. That's about it for now. Adios.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Again, we reviewed the material before the test in Sanitation today - mid-term, that is. We split into teams and went around the room with each group answering questions. The catch? The winning team scored a 5 point bonus on the test. We split into our groups and the kid that works at McCormick and "Schmucks" (as he puts it) says, "Yea! We got the Uchi guy!" Yep. "The Uchi Guy". BOOM! Aaaaaaannnnd we won. 5 bonus points on the test. Then we got to it. I buzzed through it pretty quick with a couple speed bumps here and there (which I doubled checked after class to find that I had gotten correct). I'm pretty sure it's coming back with a "105" on it. We'll know by tomorrow.

I got a little break at the house and then it was off to Uchi. Today was real fun. I had a different sous chef "boss for the day" - Jay. Jay had me start off with yucca chips.... again. I'm getting pretty good at that. Everything else was different though. I boiled, shocked, and shelled quail eggs. I made a version of yuzukosho which required me to zest 46 limes. I did not mistype that. 46. Limes. I also zested lemons, grated some garlic, and minced Thai chilis. I mixed all that together with some salt then mashed it with my chef's knife to create a paste. That was fun. Then I sliced some of those limes and put them in the dehydrator. I have no idea what they'll do with those.

I reckon that's all for now. It's back to Basic Cookery tomorrow. I'll let you know how the test score comes out!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Week Old Chili

I was back in Sanitation today. Today we covered cooking temperatures and cooling procedures, refrigeration and thawing, and so on. (I start cooking in four weeks, so hang in there!) Did you know that a restaurant can keep food for up to 7 days? So that lovely bowl of chili you are enjoying COULD have been made a week ago?!!???!? Though this is not USUALLY the case. The restaurants I've worked in were/are trashing food after 3-4 days.

We did have some amusing moments regarding the date and when said moments began to get a little out of hand Miss Jane declared herself a "middle-aged, over-caffeinated woman" and that we should "be afraid". So things toned down from there.

During the section on frozen foods she started asking who worked in restaurants and where they worked (to find out who uses frozen foods) and I was able to share my current status as a stage at Uchi. Miss Jane seemed quite impressed that I had landed that gig and strongly suggested that everyone save up and check out the "world class" cuisine they are serving. So I was pretty pumped about that.

That's about it for now. I'm working a double tonight, then we have a Sanitation Mid-Term Exam in the morning(I know right? The class is 6 weeks, and we're 3 weeks in, so that's "mid-term"), then it's over to Uchi. So my next few days are going to be pretty busy. Y'all take care, and don't forget to "follow" my blog. Over there on the right, scroll down to where it says "Follow" and click that. All you need is a Gmail, Yahoo, Twitter, or Blogger account to follow and you may even be able to use your AIM name, not sure about that one. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Porkchops and Applesauce....Sort Of

So the Sunday Fair was not super exciting. There was some decent wine and some decent food, but for the most part, there's not much to write about. However, I had a lot of fun hanging out with Abby and Stacy after my volunteering was done. We also scored the last of the Salt Lick ribs. So that was good.

I got home in time to put together a tasty dinner:

Pork tenderloin with barbecue sauce, green beans sauteed with shallots, butter, and bacon fat, and mashed sweet potatoes topped with brown sugar bourbon butter and marshmallow creme. I managed to nail the tenderloin to the perfect temp - cooked through, but juuuuiiiccyy. Jonny actually said, "Is pork always this tender?" BOOM!

We followed that up with some baked apples:

I had some extra brown sugar bourbon butter. So I mixed that up with some crunchy peanut butter, oats, and raisins and stuffed that into cored Granny Smith Apples, sprinkled a little cinnamon-sugar on top and tossed em in the oven. They were tasty, but definitely could've used some caramel sauce or vanilla ice cream. Overall, a nice meal.

School's out tomorrow, so I probably won't be blogging again til Tuesday. See ya then.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today, I Cried.

Warm yourself up a nice cup of tea, grab your favorite blanket, and curl up in your comfy chair, because you're in for a nice long read. I do apologize for missing a couple of days, but I've been pretty wiped the last few days. Where to begin?

Thursday: I got to casually mention in class that I was staging at Uchi to Chef Porter. She said that was awesome and asked me to pass along hellos to Chefs Tyson and Paul. I also heard a few whispers of "Wow" and "Uchi? Cool" among my classmates. Anyway, we quickly reviewed Chapters 1 & 3 for the quiz and got to it. Six minutes later, I was the second to turn in my quiz and head outside. I had studied like a champ and it paid off. After the break, we moved on to Chapter 4 "Basic Cooking Principles". Yaaay! We started talking about proteins and carbohydrates and sugars and starches. Finally, we were talking about food - and not about how it can kill you. I headed straight from school to work and from work I drove 45 minutes South in the rain in Austin traffic to pour wine at the Whole Foods Rooftop Reception for the Texas Food & Wine Festival only to find out that it had been canceled due to said rain. Great. So I ended up having sushi with Summer and Toby at Umi (decent) and to see Green Zone (also decent).

Friday: Quizzes get passed back to review. Another 100. Aaaagain. And then we started talking about vegetables and fat and vitamins and water in food. Nothing tooo exciting. Again, straight from school to work, but this time, I went from work to The Long Center to pour wine for the Stars Across Texas Grand Wine Tasting. I was pouring wine for McPherson Cellars Winery‎ out of Lubbock, Texas (I guess they're trying to class up the town - good luck!). The wine was REALLY good. Especially the Viognier (Vee-On-Yay). But the best part of the event was that each booth had two volunteers, so we got to alternate working the table and enjoying the event.

I got an hour to check out the food and wine and I used the WHOLE hour! I had food from some of the swankiest joints in town- Uchi (talked to the guys like I knew em), parkside, Bleu River Cafe & Ventana (restaurants from the school), Hudson's on the Bend, Driskill Grill, La Condesa, Jeffrey's, and on and on (full list here). "What did you eat," you ask? Well let me tell you: I had a mint julep chocolate, Cap 'N Crunch gelato, dandelion soup, an antelope tostada, tuna tar-tar, baby octopus, shrimp cakes, a chocolate tart with a caramel bottom and sea salt, almond gazpacho, spicy shrimp skewer, a tofu and pork burger (I know, but it was SO tasty), chicken liver paté with caviar, salmon mousse, and the pièce de résistance: hamachi topped with foie gras. This was my first (and long awaited) run in with foie gras and it WILL NOT be my last. I think the most accurate way to explain the flavor and texture of this most wonderful of ingredients is that it's like "meat butter". Mmmmmmm.......

Saturday: I was back at Uchi this morning for some staging. I made sweet potato and yucca chips again and grated ginger and dikon again as well. Everything else was new. I "stretched" shrimp for tempura: The raw shrimp is peeled (tail on) and scored inside the curve. Then the shrimp is placed in a bamboo sushi mat, pinched and squeezed and rolled until it is about 9 inches long. Awesome. I sliced kabochas (Japanese pumpkin). I cut cucumbers into large batonnets. I cut red grapes into red grape "coins". I mixed wasabi and sobbed like a little girl - that stuff is POTENT!! You think chopping onions makes you cry? I had tears streaming down my face like I was watching the end of "Old Yeller". And I actually got to COOK! What? Yep! I combined onion, lemongrass, garlic, white wine, and rice wine vinegar, brought it to a boil, and added rinsed mussels. They were steamed to perfection. I nailed another day. So much fun.

Phew! I told you it was a long read. I'll make sure to keep up daily so that I don't have to type you another novella. I hope you enjoyed all this info and I'll try to post a bonus blog tomorrow if the Sunday Fair for the Wine & Food Fest provides anything worth posting. BOOM!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mango Yolks and Baby Eels

It was back to Basic Cookery today with Chef Porter. Again, not tooo exciting - tilting skillets, mixers, pots, pans, etc. However, I did score another brownie point this morning. I pointed out that another definition for the word "supreme" is a segment of citrus that has been cut out sans pith, peel, or membrane. "YES" says Chef Porter. More on this later.

After school I booked it South and walked into the front door of Uchi. *PAUSE ||* For those of you not from Austin (or Austinites that live under a rock), Uchi is one of the few high end restaurants in town. The Executive Chef - Tyson Cole - was on Iron Chef America. I haven't met him yet. His assistants for the show - Paul Qui and Phillip Speer - were there, and I did meet them. Paul is the Chef de Cuisine and Phillip is the Pastry Chef. *PLAY >*

I told the guy at the front that I was there to stage (like mirage). He got Paul, who introduced me to Ben - who would be my boss for the day. Ben put me right to work. I made sweet potato and yucca chips with a mandolin. I peeled and grated ginger and dikon - 2 cups each. I quartered cippolini onions and brussels sprouts - a quart each (with my Chef's knife from my kit!!!). Then we broke for family meal. They had a lovely spread of a salad, some udon noodles with veggies, chicken legs, a soup of some sort, some fried veggie something and leftover sushi rice. It was taaaasty - to me that is. Everyone else thought it was pretty awful. Perhaps my palette will mature throughout school so that I too can hate family meal. (PS. Anthony Bourdain specifically explained family meal as left over pasta, chicken legs and salad in "Kitchen Confidential". So I thought this was pretty funny).

Back to work: I peeled garlic. Like 10 full heads. A quarts worth. By hand. FOR AN HOUR! Then slid that garlic through a hand mandolin (handolin?) to finely shave it. Then it was shallots through the handolin. 1/2 gallon. Then I made orange supremes (see above) out of 10 oranges. Then we made fennel chips - shaved fennel through the mandolin, dipped it in simple syrup, put it on a sil-pad, and into the walk in to be baked later. We pickled shallots (that also needed to be sliced in the mandolin). Then I consolidated the walk in. Labeled the sauces and veggies that weren't labeled. And changed out the damp towels for the fresh fish.

Then I got to try the "Coffee Panna Cotta with Mango 'Yolk' and Coffee 'Soil'". Wow. Sooooo good. As was the "Peanut Butter Semi Freddo with Apple Miso Sorbet". Geez louise are they doin it right over there!

By this point, Ben had headed home and left me in the hands of Clifton, the expo (Or sous chef? I'm not entirely sure). He and I stepped outside and he inquired how I had liked staging (like miraging) there. I told him that I had an absolute blast. He followed that up with asking if I'd like to return on a regular basis. I peed a little and held in my squeal of delight. "Sure," I responded, as cool as the other side of the pillow. And that's that. My Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings will be spent prepping the hottest sushi restaurant in town for service. Yep. I'm sure I left some stuff out and I'll remember and add it later, but after 9 hours of slicing, mandolining, and peeling, I'm beat! I have a quiz in Basic Cookery tomorrow. Ace needs his sleep. See ya soon!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Call Me Ace

I might as well change the name of this blog to "Ace What's Cookin'". We had another Sanitation quiz today. We had another Sanitation quiz review before the quiz today. I aced another Sanitation quiz today. As stated yesterday, Sanitation is not going to be super interesting, so these posts might be pretty brief.

Today we covered "Purchasing and Receiving". So....yea, you probably don't care about that info. HOWEVER, last night, I did go to a "Grapeheads" meeting. That's the wine club at LCBCCA. It's hosted by Miss Jane, and man was it fun! We tried seven wines from the Loire Region of France - it follows the Loire River in West-Central France. I learned a lot and mostly that I know nothing about wine. "What aromas are you getting at the bottom of the glass?" Miss Jane would ask. "Peaches" "Green Apple" "Hay" "Currants" were all answers called out by the frequent attendees of the club and people that have already taken or are taking Miss Jane's Wine 101 (I don't take that class for like 6 months) and I'm sitting there thinking "I smell......white wine?" So I have a lot to learn about wine, but this club should be a great step toward expanding my knowledge.

Tomorrow's blog will be late. Why? Because I'll be going straight from school to Uchi to stage (as in mirage) - it's French for training session. I'll pretty much show up at one and work to close doing whatever they tell me to do. I am SUPER excited. It's going to be fun (and challenging) to work in a high end kitchen from prep to service. I'll try to provide a detailed account of this awesome experience. See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 12, 2010

No Shitake

We went back to Sanitation today and got our quizzes back:

What did I tell you? Nailed it. And with the smiley face!!

Today wasn't toooo exciting, and I'm guessing that most of the rest of Sanitation won't be too exciting either. Today was "Safe Food Handling". That is to say, wash your hands, clip your nails, put a lid on your cup in the kitchen, etc. Pretty standard stuff. We did however get to hear a lovely story about Miss Jane setting up "Chef Pedro" for a very amusing prank. Long story short:

Chef Pedro always threw off his hairnet when going from the kitchen to the floor to schmooze the guests. Miss Jane kept telling him it would end up in someone's food one of these days, if he wasn't careful. Chef Pedro constantly shrugged off this warning. So, Miss Jane slid a hairnet into a plate of eggs and had a friend (a very large officer of the law) call Chef Pedro over to complain. Chef Pedro turned white as a ghost and apologized profusely. He locked himself in the office. He called his wife apologizing because he was about to be fired. He cried. It was awesome. Four hours later, he emerged - eyes red from sobbing. He dropped to his knees, "Meeess Jaaaane! I aing soooo soooorrryy! It weel nebber happen agaaaaiin!!!" As much as she wanted to let him agonize, she had to let him know the truth. Needless to say, Chef Pedro neatly placed his hairnet in the trash when moving from the kitchen to the floor.

So much for long story short I guess. Well, I better hit the books. I have ANOTHER QUIZ tomorrow. I know right? They're really piling it on. I also have to get started planning a research project for Basic Cookery. On the bright side, I believe we'll actually start talking about food later this week. Stay tuned!

Friday, April 9, 2010


Today we got into a little history. We learned that up until the 1800s, there were no restaurants. If you were noble, you employed a chef, but other than that, you ate whatever you made at home. Marie-Antoine Caréme was the first person to really open a restaurant. He created Haute Cuisine (High Cuisine). This is the guy we have to thank for the architectural design of food - piéce montées. This is the guy we have to thank for banquets. He was the first to assemble courses - well, he would send out 20 courses all at once. He once set up a Venetian-style banquet where he put high tables and chairs in a hall. Then flooded it. Yep. The guests were greeted at the door in a gondola and boated over to their table.

Then it was on to Georges-Auguste Escoffier. This was the guy. "The Father of Modern Cuisine". He simplified a lot of the stuff that Caréme did. That is to say that he put those 20 courses into a logical order - cold app, hot app, soup, etc. He is also credited with the reorginization of the kitchen - the classical brigade system. He assigned a head chef, sous chef, saucier, grillardin, garde manger, and a bunch of other fancy French words. He was the chef to Napoleon III. He began canning to feed the military. He designed the standard chef uniform. He opened the Ritz in Paris and The Savoy in London (from which he was fired for embezzling). Escoffier was the first chef inducted into The French Legion of Honor. I could go on and on about this guy. I probably will later.

Then we talked about kitchen equipment. You don't need to hear about that.

Week one is in the books kids! I didn't think it was possible for me to be more excited than I was the day before I started, but I don't get to cook for 5 more weeks and I am MORE excited than I was before I started. I'm not sure if I'll do any posts this weekend or not. You'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chef Porter

"You will address me as 'Chef Porter'. Not 'miss'. Not 'miz'. I've worked in the industry for over 35 years. I think I've earned that." That was my introduction to CA 100 (Basic Cookery). Chef Porter ain't no Miss Jane. To be fair though, she's right. She has a B.A. in Psychology from The University of Texas at Austin, and an A.O.S. in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America. A few of her career highlights include (but are not limited to):

-Won “Best in the City” for The Torch Restaurant, 2 years, noted for quality and consistency.
-Articles in Southern Living for The Torch Restaurant and The Gage Hotel
-Preparing a “High Tea" Reception for Queen Elizabeth II by Gov. Ann Richards

Yea. High Tea for the Queen of freaking England. I will listen to this lady. I will absorb all the information she offers. I should also mention that one of the chefs from Ventana (the fine dining restaurant at LCBCCA) said Chef Porter is a "walking culinary encyclopedia". She eventually warmed up a little. Apparently 9:45am is "really early" for Chef Porter.

We were interrupted 20 minutes into class to go to the computer lab for some info, to have our id card pictures taken and pick up our tool kits:

We'll take a look inside there later. Back to class.

This class will not be a walk in the park. There's a research project, hundreds of pages of reading, a work book, seven "recommended" extra books, a VERY strict notebook requirement, two quizzes, a midterm, and a final, and I. Can't. Wait. This is one of the classes that brought me to culinary school. This is where we learn terminology, techniques (in theory), history, and a little chemistry. We learn what a vichyssoise is. Why sautéing is different from pan-frying. Did you know that Catherine de Medici (wife of King Henry II of France from 1547 to 1559) is the person that introduced the napkin? And forks? I have a feeling that posts regarding this class will be quite interesting. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Stage 4 Clinger

What's got two thumbs and aced it's first quiz?

This guy! Yea buddy. Now, granted, we did do a review of pretty much the whole quiz right before the quiz, but still. I was spoutin' off answers during the review and even some extra stuff that's not in the book (that's 1). I breezed through the quiz, double checked my answers twice, and was still the 3rd of 42 to turn it in. Nice. I get the official grade tomorrow, but I'm pretty sure it's coming back with a 100 on it. Probably with little smiley faces inside the 0s.

After the quiz, and a discussion with finisher's #1 and #2 about how easy the quiz was and where they (not from Austin) could get good and/or cheap beer, we went right in to Chapter 3: Contamination, Food Allergens, and Foodborne Illness. As you've read, we already covered Biological foodborne contamination in Chapter 2 (See "Ew"). So today's focus was on Chemical and Physical contamination.

During the Chemical portion, we talked about Toxic Metal Poisoning - which is a great name for a band. We talked about lead in ceramic platters (check that pretty plate that you bought from Mexico that you use to serve chips and salsa, prooooobably lead-based paint). During the copper portion, we talked about what sort of equipment you might have in your professional kitchen made of copper. We talked about how when acid is introduced to copper, it can become very hazardous to your health and so on.

Then she starts one of those leading questions that teachers do: "So you've got a big beautiful copper bowl. You put that in the fridge. You've got eggs. You put that in the fridge. You get a wisk. You're going to make a......." So I expect the whole class to go "MEEERRRIIINNNGUE!" So I go "MEEERRIII...." - it's here that I realize I'm all by myself - "ngue." And she points to me and with great enthusiasm says, "YES!" (that's 2). For some scientific reason, copper creates stiff peaks when whipping egg whites faster and better than any other material, but DO NOT use that copper bowl for pretty much anything else.

We continue on to "Accidental Introduction of Foreign Objects" - metal shavings, staples, glass, fingernails, hair, bandages, etc. "Naturally Occurring Objects That Pose a Hazard" - bones, seeds, scales, etc. And then to "Food Defense". She mentions the Visine myth. It is here that several classmates ASSURE us that it works (not going to their restaurants) and she asks, "What's that movie". I reply (again alone), "Wedding Crashers". Again, with a point and great enthusiasm, "YES!! I love that movie! Stage 4 clinger, that's hilarious!" (and that's 3)

Three what? Three points in today's class that I managed to single myself out in a positive manner. That is to say without being like the girl who regaled us with the story of her pregnant sister being purposely poisoned at a Sonic (tmi). Or the guy that answered "diarrhea" to every review question before the quiz - funny the first 3 or 4 times. Not so much the 10th or 12th time.

I am cementing my position in the class as a teacher's pet. The plan is going according to plan.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands! Wash your hands when you go to the bathroom. Wash your hands when you shake someone else's hand. If you haven't washed your hands twice today already, go wash your hands now...... Go ahead....... I'll wait........ Done? Good. A vast amount of foodborne illnesses can be avoided by merely washing your hands. As you may have guessed, today was "The Wonders of Bacteria Day" in Sanitation class - affectionately known by Miss Jane as "DVJ Day", and boy was it gross.

Feel like buying some "fresh caught" shrimp out of the back of a pickup next time you're at the coast? "Hello, Hepatitis A!" Or how about some tomatoes or watermelons out of the nice man's trailer on the side of the highway? "Sup, Salmonella?" Like your Chili's Old Timer medium rare? "'Ello, E. Coli!" Last one: Want to keep those extra baked potatoes for tomorrow's potato salad? "Bonjour, Botulism!"

Don't keep leftover rice. Don't keep leftover baked potatoes. Keep your food below 41º or above 135º - otherwise it's in the "Danger Zone" (71º-135º is the "MAJOR Danger Zone"). Reheat leftovers to 165º. Bacteria can grow from 1 to over 1 billion in 10 hours. Gross. Cough or sneeze into your elbow; not your hands. I'll skip over the parasite section. You're welcome. Don't pick your own mushrooms - as fun as that may sound to some of you, the trip to the hospital may not be the trip you're looking for. Sorry Mrs. Blackstock, "the trip for which your are looking".

Why all these rules? Why so many "don'ts"? Have you figured out why Miss Jane calls it "DVJ Day?". The "D" and "V" should be pretty obvious - remember the last time you got some slightly undercooked chicken? Yea; you know what I'm talking about. The "J" is jaundice (not near as common these days, but still out there).

SPOILED ALERT (get it?): The title of the post is "Ew". So here's some Ew for ya:

Anisakiasis (ANN-ih-SAH-KYE-ah-sis) is a parasite that can be transferred by consuming raw or undercooked herring, cod, halibut, mackerel or Pacific salmon that is less than sushi grade. It causes a tingling in your throat.

And you cough up worms. GOOD NIGHT! ......and wash your hands.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Miss Jane"

Man is it dark at 6 in the morning (the picture was taken after class). As previously stated, I was super excited about school today. So, needless to say, I did not sleep very well last night. 5:30am came quick. I forced myself out of my comfy bed, brushed my teeth, got dressed, and headed out. After being pointed in the direction of Classroom D (my home for the next 6 weeks), I grabbed a seat, and felt the butterflies. Who knew you could still get nervous about the first day of school at the age of 28?

The scheduling is going to be a little bizarre for the first block. I'll go to Sanitation from 6:30-9:00am Mon Tues Wed, then to Basic Cookery (CA 100 - where no actual cooking takes place) from 9:30-11:30am on Thu Fri...the first week. (Thanks to the fine folks at The University of Texas at Austin, I won't be taking Math, English, Speech, Psych, or Computer Skills.) Then NEXT week it's Sanitation Mon Tue and CA 100 Wed Thu Fri and so on and so forth for 6 weeks.

Sanitation. After we had all stumbled in and grabbed a seat next to some stranger, we were warmly greeted by "Miss Jane". After she had asked us all why in the name of all things holy we had selected the 6:30am group, she gave us a brief bio. She has a Masters in International Business and Accounting from UC Berkley. She'd been in the hospitality industry for 30 years (mostly as the Southwest Regional Wine and Beverage Director for Holiday Inn) before taking over the Wine program at Le Cordon Bleu for the last 14 years. She is a sommelier. She is a chef. She is hilarious. Maybe it's because we're all sleep deprived, but I found her to be quite humorous. She even shared with us her "Plan B" - not THAT Plan B.

She was always prepared if one of her restaurants got accused of a foodborne-illness outbreak (two or more people getting sick from the same dish on the same day). She had $1000 in unmarked, non-sequential $1 bills in a safe with a one-way, non-refundable ticket to Costa Rica, and a good pair of running shoes. She would take off for seven or eight years because the embarrassment (and legal ramifications) of serving Chicken Picatta that causes several people to hug a toilet, would be unbearable.

So you'd think, "Day one. Introductions, class schedule, grading practices, and done." You'd be wrong. Chapter One is done. Our first quiz is Wednesday. Yea. Six weeks, with only two and three days per week. This is going to go by fast! Oh, and that little joke about "The Wonders of Bacteria"? That's tomorrow's blog. Seriously. See ya then!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Eve

It begins tomorrow. Tomorrow I'll be waking up at 5:30am to slap on my brand new and soon to be food-stained uniform (I'll post a picture) and head off to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. I couldn't be more excited. I've always loved to cook and can't wait to expand my knowledge exponentially. I'm not sure how terribly exciting the first few posts will be - my first class is Sanitation. I guess I will be able to share with you The Wonders of Bacteria. So there's that to look forward to. Stay tuned.