“If you put shit, you will make shit. Its normal.”
Chef Vincent seems to end every one of his sentences by saying “It’s normal.” As if that explains everything. Today one of his key lessons (besides how much he liked a clean kitchen) was that we had to put good ingredients into our dish in order to have something delicious come out.
Chef has worked in one, two and three Michelin star kitchens, and was first a cuisine chef before he was a pastry chef–so even though he puts a high priority on taste over appearance, you know he is capable (and expects) perfection. It’s normal.
Let me go back to the beginning.
The first day of pastry class we got an introduction to the kitchen, to Chef Vincent, and to the recipes we would be making during the week. This week is bread week, so the two breads we tackled today were croissant dough and fougasses. I don’t really have any experience with bread, and I think it was painfully obvious.
We were divided into pairs (thank god my partner Tiffany has already been at the school for several months and knew what she was doing!) and started off straight away. Talk about jumping in the deep end. We had a few minutes to gather our ingredients and measure them out back at our stations (once we figured out where the ingredients were located -_-;;).
First we made croissant dough, which needs to set for 24 hours, so as soon as that was finished we covered it in plastic wrap and put it away. After that, we scrubbed the counters and all our tools completely clean–aiming to be perfectly sanitary even while chef told us to hurry up and be faster.
The second dough was made in a similar fashion, but after it was all kneaded out, chef added a mixture of olive tapanade (which he made yesterday), fresh basil, oregano, cayenne pepper, oil, and finely diced tomatoes from chef’s dad’s garden.
What is this alternate reality that I have stepped into where my tomatoes come from the garden of the father of a chef with three Michelin stars?!
Anyway. I’m pretty sure my dough turned out to be weird, or maybe chef was just being super nice, because at the end of the day after chef baked everything (while we were in our three hour French class) chef gave me the bread that said “dad” on it–which meant it was his and not mine.
The three hours simultaneously sped by and crept by quite slowly. I kept thinking chef was going to tell us that our time was up for the day and then we would start something new. But each time we started a new recipe I felt like I was racing against the clock.
My arms are sore from kneading everything by hand T_T I can’t imagine doing 5 more breads this week!
After a quick lunch, five of us from the morning pastry class and two of the students from the morning cuisine class went into the “green room” for our French class. Everyone but me has been studying French either at the school, somewhere else in France or on their own very diligently for at least the last three months, and while I understand a good portion of what the teacher is talking about, it is super weird to be at the bottom of the class. I should probably be studying instead of blogging. Oops.
As soon as all the classes were done, I bolted to the bus stop with a few of the other students–I was not about to miss the bus again today! By the time the bus came (it was at least 5 minutes late) and I had stopped at the grocery store at the apartment complex to grab some ingredients, I finally returned to my apartment around 5:20pm.
After three months of doing nothing in the US it was quite the extreme change for me!
My only goals for the night are to successfully make something edible for dinner, study some French, and get to sleep at a decent enough hour so that I am fully rested before I do this all again tomorrow!