Thursday, 1 December 2011

A bit of a rough day

Today was a bit of a rough day. I woke up, barely had time to eat breakfast since I iron the uniform every morning (note to myself: why don't you do it at night?), and when I arrived at school I realized that my electronic scale had disappeared. Unfortunately, there's a lot of theft going on in school so you shouldn't forget your things left behind. Went to the room where we had our practical the day before but the scale wasn't there. At lunch time, came home and did a search for the missing scale but no luck. "Oh well" - I thought - "it's the second time this happens, guess I'll have to buy a new one.". Back to school, asked once again in the reception if they had any scales on their Lost And Found. Guess what? The second scale that I lost wasn't there but the first one that I had lost somehow managed to reappear after two weeks! When we had practical my other scale showed up, so now I have two scales - double the fun. Not.

It quite pisses me off the amount of theft that we hear that's going on at school. You would expect that people who have more than 8000 EUR to "splurge" on a cooking course would go around stealing, but unfortunately it happens a lot. Have heard some rumors that in the girls lockers someone came in with a wire clipper and raided one girls lockers. Not sure if it's a myth, but it sure is creepy. The most popular things to disappear are, of course, our knife kits. They're a set of around 10 Wusthof Knives and several other kitchen utensils that is worth around 750 EUR totally. So, they make a nice christmas present for someone back at home. Advice to future Le Cordon Bleu students: never leave your knife bags unattended. You may get lucky and a nice fellow will find it and leave it in the reception, but most probably not.

Anyway, my day started a bit off but it got quite okay after I got my two scales back. That was until I had to make this in practical:

Blanquette de Veau à L'Ancienne with Riz Pilaf
It's a very traditional french recipe, origins whereabouts highly discussed (Normandy, Burgundy, etc.), made with veal. It's a kind of a stew or ragout, where the meat is cooked in a aromatic broth composed of celery, carrots, onions, leek, clovers, bouquet garni and peppercorns. The meat is slowly cooked for at least an hour, since you use usually a second or third category cut - tougher cuts, and then you use the broth where the meat has cooked to make a Sauce Suprême and cook the rice in the oven. It's also served with glazed pearl onions and glazed button mushrooms (tiny tiny mushrooms that, guess what, look like a chef's jacket button). It's also one of the dishes that can come up on our practical exam!

The recipe is quite standard and it offers little difficulty. However, I got this monstrous piece of meat in practical and it took me almost ONE HOUR to trim all the cartilage, excess fat, nerves, sinew and all the other monstrous things. Even my colleagues commented that the piece of meat I got looked awful. In the mean while, the school decided to have fire alarm simulation, so we lost about 15 minutes of the time we had in practical. On other notes, the chef in practical had different methods of doing the recipe than the one in the demonstrations and wanted you to use his method. All these small things threw my mind completely off. I lost all my mental organization (or as in kitchen language, my mise) and from there on everything went bad. When I finally managed to present the plate to the chef, I was the last one to do it, I know the meat was not soft as I wanted it to be, it should have cooked for at least another 30-45 min. As usual I got remarks on lack of salt and my mushrooms were cold. I was really disappointed with what I presented, just threw it all away in the trash bin.

Just felt like going home but still had another demonstration at 15h30. Fortunately, what happened in that demo was amazing and lifted my spirits a bit! Chef Patrick Terrien delivered a show by making these following treats:

Parfait Glacé au Café, Sauce Caramel au Cognac and Tournedos Grillés with
Sauce Béarnaise with Pommes Pont-Neuf
In English those dishes would be: Frozen Coffee Parfat with a Caramel and Cognac Sauce and Grilled Tournedos with Bearnaise Sauce and Potatoes "Pont-Neuf". The sauce béarnaise was SO amazing and that meat was cooked rare and it was just heaven on earth! Do you see those plates in the pictures? Yeah, me and Alex attacked them at the end of the demo. We always get a small tasting plate in every demonstrations but we kinda nicely asked the chef it it was ok to eat to the plates that he presented, to which he replied with a "Bien sûr!". We just devoured it.

Let's hope for a better day tomorrow. À demain!


  1. If the day ends with good food, it's always a good day :)

  2. Hi :) your blog is very interesting. It gave me insight on a typical day at Le Cordon Bleu. I'm aspiring to study there. Is it very difficult to get in?