Monday, June 28, 2010

Cooking Bootcamp Day 5

On Thursday night, I scribbled down key points of things I learned throughout the week.  I was quite intimated by the idea of salmon tartare.  There were thousands of recipes online and I didn't quite like any of them.  I felt if we were going to eat a fish raw, we should try to bring out its freshness and natural flavour instead of hiding it fish behind tons of sauces and mayo, so I went with the most simple and basic ingredients: lemon juice, salt, pepper, chive, shallot. That was it.  I could count the ingredients with one hand.   For complexity, different flavours and textures were then added around the fish as parts of the presentation.

When I arrived at the class, I learned that, to my dismay, more than a couple people had been practicing making tartare for the last two days.  I haven't even looked at my kitchen for a week!  I was sleep deprived, underprepared, and stressed out.  We were to cook from 9:30 to 1:30.  Salmon tartare has to be plated and presented by 12:30 and other two dishes at 30 minute intervals.  The secret ingredients were beef tenderloin for hot appetizer and cornish hen for main course.

In addition to flavour and presentation, we were also judged on our food safe and organization.

My salmon tartare canape.  I used a melon baller to make a small bowl out of each slices of cucumber.  On top of the salmon is fluffy concotion is whipped chive mayo freshly made chive olive oil and lemon juice folded into whipped egg.  I then topped it off is a parmesan triangle for contrasting flavour and texture. This is actually a picture of the left over.  I did not have time to take pictures between plates.

This is my hot appetizer.  Sorry for the poor quality.  It was snapped quickly, before I moved onto the main course.  The beef was grilled, covered in my famous herb crumb.  I made three savour herb crepes, and I brushed colored olive oil I made: red paprika oil, yellow turmeric oil, and the leftover chive oil from the salmon.  For sauce, I made a morel redwine reduction.

So far so good, until I got to the cornish hen.  What the heck is cornish hen? It was this small, boney, alien bird thing.  I could not tell which side was up and where the butt was.  I had no idea what to do and I made a mess.  It turned out terribly.  The meat was dry, I forgot ingredients for the sauce, and my plating was a failure.  In fact, I had to take all the food off and re-plate the entire dish. As a result, the food was cold and blend by the time it got to the judge.  And it was late.

Needless to say, I didn't win.  Not even close. I felt I could have done much better, but even if I have executed perfectly, there are lots of students there who would have done better than me anyway.    That didn't really bother me though; it was just a part of learning.  However, I felt that Chef David and Walter had high expectation of me and I think I have disappointed them.  I felt quite depressed, but it also motivate me even more to learn more and refine my skills.  Most importantly, learn to work with the damn cornish hens.

The course is totally worth the money and I can't wait for level 2! 

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