Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Let’s Get to Slicing and Dicing – Fingers and Food

Today was day one in the kitchen, or “lab” as they call it at school. This 5 hour class started out with a LOOONG introduction of the chef instructors’ expectations regarding attendance, dress code, cleaning, etc. Usual first day stuff. I was a little caught off guard because the whole introduction was intended to stress the need for us to dress and conduct ourselves in a professional manner. That I get. What I didn’t get was why the chef instructors were laying out these expectations with the abundant use of expletives. Not that I’m offended by such words (they are essential to my vocabulary), but I don’t usually associate them with professionalism.

Following the intro was an hour long demo on how to chop, dice, mince, julienne, tourne, chiffonade and perform various other knife cuts. After the demo, we were turned loose with an onion and potato, 2 shallots, 3 carrots, 4 mushrooms and our shiny, new knives. We had 2 hours to churn out 10 uniquely cut veggie products. You start the night out with a grade of 20. Points are deducted if your station is messy, if your plate presentation is poor and most importantly, if your knife cuts are inaccurate. And by inaccurate I mean, when the chef instructors bust out the ruler (oh yes they did) and measure your cuts, wrong is wrong. There went my points….

I’m a perfectionist. I will spend hours medium dicing a carrot if I have to, just to get it right. But 2 hours is all I had. As I went to present my plate for grading, I was embarrassed, disappointed and ultimately defeated. My cubed carrots looked more like rectangles, my 7 sided potato only had 6 sides, and my fluted mushroom…oh, I can’t even go there.

I’d like to say that I survived my first day in the lab unscathed. I’d be lying if I did. I was the second (of three) to slice open a finger. Top of my left thumb knuckle – almost to the bone. I started sweating heavily and nearly passed out. After the bleeding finally stopped, chef instructor 1 checked it out….”You may need stitches, but probably not.” I made a decision – NOT.

As I sit here with my bandaged up thumb and a hot cup of tea, I am starting to wonder…if the first day went this bad, what does that mean? That the worst is over or the fun is just beginning?


Tony said...

ouch.... do be careful, the addition of the red stuff is not always welcome in a well crafted menu...

tracy said...

fresh veggies with a side of finger!?

I hope it healed up fast.

You'll get all this stuff. It's the beginning and you just need to warm up. Besides you know your raw butter from your cooked butter, so those f*ckers better LOOKOUT!

tracy said...

Hey, so if you get pissed at some of your patrons someday, are you gonna give 'em the finger!?