Happy Sunday, friends and family! I have never appreciated my weekends more… getting some rest and relaxation is not just wanted, but absolutely necessary. People always ask what cooking school is like. Depending on the day I’ve had I use different adjectives to describe it, but the ones I commonly use are: hard, sweaty, exhausting, and challenging as well as satisfying, thrilling, delicious and fun! If I had one sentence to describe it, I have said a few times that it feels like making Thanksgiving dinner every single day. Yes, that tiring, most days. But tiring and satisfying. Like Thanksgiving dinners are. We always marvel at all the work it takes to put up such a meal, like a Thanksgiving one, but it’s always worth it. Just like each day at cooking school!
5 weeks down and beginning the 6th week tomorrow. As a former elementary school teacher, I am well aware of the 6 week marker. It truly takes a class 6 weeks to gel, to get into a great rhythm. I have to say that my class of 14 is in a great rhythm and is bonding now more than ever. Last week we had our first exam. It was a combination of a 3 hr. practical exam followed by a 10 question, essay format, written exam. For some of my classmates, this was a chance for them to shine. And boy did they. The stress of the ticking clock and the vague recipes where the expectation is that you can produce 3 dishes at specific times to be evaluated. It’s about time management, organization, work flow, memorized procedures, and the ability to taste and season correctly. Some of my classmates absolutely loved this and described it as thrilling and exciting. I cannot wait to go visit them one day in the restaurant that is lucky enough to get their energy and skills in their kitchen.
I’m happy to say I passed the practical just fine, but did not share in the thrill of the stressful environment that some of my classmates did. It didn’t help that at the beginning of the test, while the instructor was giving important information about the test, that my phone in my back pocket was buzzing and my watch was flashing with a phone call. 6 phone calls back to back to let me know that my house alarm had been set off was distracting, to say the least. I tried to ignore the calls just long enough to get the info and then I’d step out to handle the situation that I was pretty sure wasn’t an emergency. My mind went blank and I didn’t hear anything that was said. I burst into tears and wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to gather myself and proceed with my exam, but I did. It was hard, sweaty, exhausting, and challenging, but I did it. It may not have been my best showing, but under the circumstances it was good enough. Maybe the croutons were cut the incorrect size for the soup garnish, the salad dressing was too salty, and the sauce for the chicken was lumpy, but it still was a meal that most people would consider pretty darn good.
My class really bonded after this exam. We high fived each other for getting past the dreaded first exam and my tears were met with plenty of supportive hugs. Our group text that evening was a constant stream of how everyone felt and what we were drinking or stuffing our faces with to come down from such a stressful day. I parked myself in the corner of my comfy couch, my kids proud of their mom for sitting and watching tv, and the wine was delivered to me by my sweet hubby as soon as my glass was less than half full. It was just the evening I needed. I know that the next two exams will be equally stressful, but you can be sure there will be no added stress from any devices on my wrist or in my back pocket!
Now for a little glimpse of the tasty food we made this week. It was Duck week- so that means breaking down a duck and pretty much using every single part of the duck for some dish. I have to admit, it wasn’t my favorite food week! But, along with the duck dishes, there was homemade pasta and chocolate souffle with ginger ice cream. That’s not too shabby!