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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 10

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Today was a pretty good day. Kevin was back in the kitchen and gave me a hand, while Peck was gone so Eddie had to sub in on sauce. Chef was helping with Jackie prep and doing the amuse bouche, and when service came around I was doing tournant and appetizers, so there was a lot of yelling on my end. Haha. It's cool being the person calling out orders and organising things, though I haven't done a complete job because it's never technically been my station... so I'm only helping out at the pass and plating and organising how the entrées are going but it wasn't my "real job".

Prep went by pretty easily. I've been prepping ahead most of the time, so by the time Thursday hit in the week I really didn't have that much to do. Really drives home how prepping ahead makes life easier! I managed to have time to get some prep done for tomorrow as well, reserving and pulling items. Alaia's theme for tomorrow is "4 items or less" so we know it's items that are fast and easy to do. I've got a steamed scallop dish (served cold) and a brie and cranberry puff pastry dish to complete.


[Seared scallop with lemon foam, passionfruit coulis, cucumber salad, radish and microgreen garnish]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 9

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Well, October has come around and we are now running a new menu. It's awesome because we had a hand in designing the new menu! It's great that the restaurant is student run and we get to exercise our creativity in putting out dishes as well as designing what kind of theme and ideas we want to try.

Originally we didn't have much of an idea, but we started with Canadian cuisine as our base. Chef Ben had been giving a lecture on Canadian cuisine, and started us off with: "What is Canadian cuisine?" It was tough because a lot of the foods that we associate with Canadian cuisine, whether of Native American origin or cultural fusion were kind of hard to elevate and make nice dishes out of. But then we decided on including elements and playing around with seasonal produce and came up with our final menu, which we're pretty proud of. We have a few components that are necessary but otherwise we get to play around with plating and stuff and try to make it better.


[Oyster Special: passionfruit coulis, horseradish cream, lemon foam, fennel and radish salad.]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 8

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So my first week as Saucier station is over, and I think it went really well! I had to work on timing and grilling my steaks to order, pan searing my salmon and getting the skin perfectly crispy while not overcooking the fish, and micromanagement for various orders.

We had some fun and got more comfortable in the restaurant kitchen, and also got to do some off site catering. I'm really enjoying the advanced portion of class!

Alaia and I put together some really awesome looking plates for service, and we're really proud of what we've produced. So happy to hear some great comments and feedback from guests at the restaurant too!


[Steak with creamed spinach, pommes dauphine, seasonal veggies]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 7

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Midterms have come and gone, and while I've scored really well during the term I totally bombed the midterm and thus my current grade is lower than I'd like it to be. Shitty, but that's life. These tests really have to make sure that you can work well under pressure and complete the items.

Advanced kitchen so far has been really awesome, and we're pushing boundaries every day. It's interesting to see just how well people are adjusting and who... isn't.

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 6

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Midterms in a month! ARGH!

I'm pumped for a catering opportunity that I've signed up for - a bunch of us in the class are going to be helping out with the Sea Wheeze marathon! Since it's a morning meal and throughout the day thing during the event, we have to start prep at 3 in the morning! Oh man... but that's the way the industry works, haha. It'll be really cool to do that I think, and great experience too.

Chef Bernard has us turning veggies all the time. It's good practice and with the way our class is going he seems to think we all need it for the midterm exam... gulp. But have to do it to learn!

Food has been pretty heavy the past week it seems. We're doing a lot of high carb or winter dishes, and since it's still late summer it's all sitting quite heavily in our bellies... but sadly the sun is setting earlier and I'm not quite enjoying my way back home anymore :( Getting dark by the time I get home!


[Moroccan Couscous with Lamb Navarin, turned vegetables, and hachi]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 5

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Still a long way to go!

School has its ups and downs, and some days I'm so tired and others I feel like I have energy.

I think I am unfortunately gaining quite a bit of weight despite my (admittedly light) exercise to and from class.

Wine tasting class was really cool. Chef Tim is really energetic as a speaker and some of the things he says are really so snarky and funny. It's interesting to me to learn the proper ways of tasting - how to swirl, smell, taste, aerate, etc. My experience with drinking is really limited since I have a mild allergy to alcohol, but it's nice to get the experience and knowledge because it's important to food and knowing how to pair it.


[Wines from the tasting class]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 4

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It's hard to believe that we're reaching the end of three weeks. I feel like I've learned so much, but at the same time that I still have a long way to go.


[Flank Steak with pommes frites and grilled vegetables; sherry reduction.]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 3

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We'ved moved on to actual food now :)

It's been quite a difference from the first to second week. Things in the kitchen move so much faster, and I've had a couple episodes on feeling really frazzled and overwhelmed. I dropped a phyllo basket on the floor and had to remake it ;__;

I bought some replacement insoles that I think are squishier and a bit more comfortable for my shoes. It helps that there is the added support, I think. My poor feet still get a bit achey but it's a lot better than the sneakers!


[Canapé plate, right to left and top to bottom: caviar with egg; smoked salmon with cream cheese; prosciutto with melon and endive; smoked oyster with tomato concassé; prawn and fruit salsa; chicken and half quail egg]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 2

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Today was hungry hippo day where I survived on energy bars. Then Chef Scott had to show up with a plate from the advanced class showing us duck two ways: duck breast, and confit, with nectarine jam. Accompaniments on the plate are a berry? reduction, freshly foraged berries (by Chef Scott himself!), and duck crackling bits. Chef Patrice took a bite and then told the rest of the class to try some so we could get an idea of what was to come :) It was super tasty. We also got another plate later with quail eggs and stuff but I only had a bit of mushroom, but it was really tasty mushroom!


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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 1

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*My meandering and rambling journal entry*

So it's been two days of culinary school so far, and I really have to get used to this regimen I've put ahead of myself. It's been great weather, thankfully, so while it's lovely and sunny, it's HOT and sunny and biking to school gets me all tomato red. Standing around in sneakers instead of cooking clogs is also hurting my poor feet. But each and every day I'll be a little stronger, more in shape, and more equipped to last those long hours in a professional kitchen.

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