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Adventures In Pastry: Daily Dessert

At school we have different stations in the kitchens. Two of them are for restaurant service, and as part of the dessert station you have to design a daily special. For those that don't really care or aren't interested, Chef will tell you what to do or just get you to serve one of the school's desserts.

For my first daily special, I first started with the theme of yuzu and

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Life's been a lot busier lately. It's hard to believe that the time in training pastry is over with already, and we've moved on to advanced side. I'm part of the set of students that the school is sending to the Skills BC competition in April, and I've been trying to practice with what spare time I have without burning myself out. It's really hard some days, and I make jokes about living at culinary school, haha.

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Dinner Party Funtimes

We had a secret santa event with the gang and I thought I could turn it into an opportunity to show off what I've learned as well! So I came up with a dinner party idea and threw a fancy theme on it as well.

Please excuse my printscreen silliness with Word telling me I don't know how to spell....

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It's the end of one but start of another

I've officially graduated!

It's amazing how much I've learned and how different cooking is for me after what feels like a scant 6 months. It's sad to leave the culinary kitchen behind, but I still have pastry ahead of me. It's really  going to be such a different experience for me on the other side.

Graduation was a mix of feels and laughter, but I think I felt like it wasn't finished and it wasn't the end because I knew I was going back for pastry. I suppose it's different for other people in my class - some of them are leaving BC and aren't staying in Vancouver - but I really hope we all do stay in touch and keep the teamwork and friendships we've built over these past 6 months alive.

I received/earned two awards: perfect attendance (a technicality on that one, I'm marked one late!) and best plating. Yay! Looking back over past pictures and how I was even a year ago compared to today is just crazy at the difference! I didn't do well enough to get top marks in theory or practical, but the competition was tough across the classes because I think a lot of people really tried hard and worked hard to do well.

It feels so weird to not have to get up and go to school. On the other hand, I actually have time to do other things!

There are a few part time job opportunities out there. One of them I'm looking at is working for a start up contracting company called FreshCooks. They contract out to cooks as personal chefs and we're supposed to go to client's homes and cook for them. I hope I do well enough in the interviews and trial cooking! Would be really cool to have an experience like that.


I've been so busy that I haven't had much time to post. At least I've been able to "document" things through photos! Sort of.

[Amuse Bouche: Lamb and beef meatballs, crispy wonton, mint yoghurt]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 13

Whew, it's been getting busier and things are really speeding up! Yesterday was the first day of crossover training, so that's when people from training class start coming over to see what's up in the advanced side... then after that is finals for us in advanced and graduation! Eep!

We're a week into the new November menu now, but I think we're still trying to figure out how to organise our stations and "be better" for plating and ... well, everything. Chef Scot's kind of only got a rough sketch of the schedule but so far I've got apps again starting tomorrow then serving on Friday, then bakeshop Monday because it's the first food truck project day.

[Winter squash soup with creme fraiche, crispy shallots, pickled carrots.]

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 12

Well, today when I checked the fridge there wasn't any kale or chard but there was spinach and some brussels sprouts, so I grabbed those. I also saw there was lotus root, so I grabbed that too. I sliced the lotus root thinly and deep fried it for crunch, and dusted it with sugar. Unfortunately I kind of did them too early, and even with me refreshing them in the oven during service, they still kind of were a bit soggy when I ate the leftovers at the end.

I roasted off some butternut squash today and I liked the simple flavours. The squash itself is nice a sweet and roasting it really gave some extra richness. I served the spinach mixed with the kale, and panfried the sprouts leaves while deepfrying the hearts. Overall I was pleased with the plates today. There was a table for 24 midway during service today, and they didn't want any ricotta cheese... bummer, since I beefed it up with marscapone and fresh parsley, haha. I was going to add more ricotta but we'd run out. Then there was this ONE guy who didn't want anything to do with dairy, not even butter! That totally screwed with my dish so I tossed some salad greens together, added some of the roasted chowder veg, threw the pomegranate and orange supreme I had and some radishes... it worked out, but it was a total wrench in the works for me Q_Q

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Today was a Monday, which meant that there isn't much leftover from the weekend, so there's more work to be done! I had traded my bakeshop for Alaia's appetiser station, so I had to prep pretty much everything. The chowder needed the base plus the veg and seafood, the salad had to be totally designed from scratch, carpaccio had to be cut, and I had to come up with the special.

Originally I had a general idea based around asparagus for the salad, but when I checked the walk in I didn't see any asparagus. Sad sad, there went my idea out the window. I poked around trying to find other green stuff, and throughout prep I managed to find stuff to use. I saw the kale and thought that I could do kale two ways - deep fried for crispy kale, and then wilt it with some butter and that would be nice. I originally was going to use peas with the asparagus, and thought I might as well use it to beef up my plate anyways. Then I found some leftover purée to use, and slowly the ingredients started to come together for me.

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PICA: Adventures in Culinary School part 10

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

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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