Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to School, Week 1

"Our CPR class can't save this vinaigrette now!"

"How is the pasta coming along?"
"It's breaking apart, and is about as straight as Clay Aiken."

"Are we supposed to use a recipe for this chicken soup?"
"Nah, just wing it."

The first week back from school has been full of everything from Freud to vinaigrette, psychoanalysis to pureed carrot and ginger soup. I have an instructor that is very hyper and dedicated, and another that is very lethargic and magically disappears for 10-15 minutes at a time. Today, I learned what's it's like to have a instructor scream in my face, and another instructor work with me one-on-one. And, honestly, I was more surprised about the latter.

Maybe it's because I'm 18 and this is supposed to be the part of my life where I'm my greatest hero and everything I say is perfectly right, but...


There is practically no way to spice up the plate presentation on a bowl of clear chicken noodle soup that already has parsley in it.

And whipped cream does not belong in a pureed soup.

Teach me otherwise, serve it in your restaurant, but I stick by my beliefs.

The one chef was yelling at everyone to hurry and bring their plates over, so I quickly tossed some soup in a bowl (and on my hands...ow) and rushed over. I only had one piece of chicken in my bowl, but it was just for tasting and the rest of the soup would be served in the cafeteria tomorrow. The chef laughed at the bowl of soup representing my group, and asked how on earth he would pay $6 for a bowl of soup that only had one piece of chicken in the bowl. I (somewhat jokingly) replied that that's why he'd pay first.

When he inquired WHY I only had one piece of chicken in my bowl, I responded that it was because he was yellinh at everyone to hurry. He told me to "Hurry back and make it worth a $6 bowl of soup." I did, and when I came back he screamed in my face. I don't remember what he said, but I laughed at him.

But it made me sort of...happy. Why? Because he's a teacher. The two student teachers are both chefs at restaurants, and they're perfectly amiable. This means that my having to deal with such stupidity is limited to my time at college (5 semesters, including summer). When I go to work somewhere, I won't have to deal with it. And if I do (as I've had to twice before in jobs) then I quit with no strings attached.

However, I agree with the idea that all stereotypes have truth in the them and that chefs are generally irritable people. (Including chefs in training) One of my culinary classmates refuses to respond to her other classmates. When asked a question by a teacher, she usually rolls her eyes or sighs before responding. Today, I heard her say something without being at knifepoint: "Ugh. I went to three vending machines and all of them were out of water. I'm dying. I'm parched."

There's another girl who is constantly leaving class and lab to text. Yesterday, she was in the hall, carrying several cutting boards with utensils piled on top. When I asked her if she wanted me to get the kitchen door for her, she replied in a snotty tone, "Yeah, if you can." Then, she actually thanked me, too. I was dumbstruck.

I don't think it's that I'm sensitive or offended by what these people say or do. It just amazes me that people can live their daily lives like that, never cracking a smile or showing the least bit of enjoyment or enthusiasm.

Which totally sets the path to a novel about an optimistic chef in a kitchen full of irritable people. Coming Summer 2011: The Chef Who Killed the Calf by Staring at It; and it's sequel in Summer 2012: I Can't Believe It's Not Clarified Butter.
blog comments powered by Disqus