veal escalopes with fresh pasta and garnish “a la viennoise”


Well friends, I’m officially done with Basic Cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu.  With my knives and cooking clothes packed up, the only reminders right now of the past month of school are a binder full of notes and hopefully (!) a head full of cooking principles.  After living and breathing French cuisine for the past month, it’ll be good to actually think about what I’ve learned as I fly home on Monday.  You can expect to hear more from me after that!

These past couple of weeks have been pretty intense.  Some days we were at school from 8:30 in the morning to 9:30 at night cooking tedious dishes in hot kitchens with tired people.  But even with the craziness, I enjoyed the camaraderie with classmates and learned a lot about cooking under pressure.  At the end of one of the more stressful cooking sessions, I was rushing to finish and present my sub-par dish to the chef for her critique.  Feeling at the time a mixture of disappointment, frustration, and apathy, I took a plate out of the oven to wipe it clean.  I just wanted to dump my ugly food on it and head to bed, but I stopped and thought, “nope, I’ve got to plate it like I mean it.”

That night I realized that you should shoot for excellence, but in the end if something isn’t quite perfect, you’ve just got to plate it with purpose.  No apologies, no explanations, no hiding.  Some people will be able to tell (like the chef in my case), but it’s really okay if they see you’re not perfect–maybe even good.  And if you take a few minutes to present it well instead of throwing it shamefully on a plate in defeat, chances are much greater that they might even enjoy it…which should be the main point anyway.

Below is some of my “schoolwork” from the past couple of weeks.  With almost every one of these there was something I could’ve done differently if time had allowed.  But then again, it’s probably best that it didn’t!

white fish and salmon terrine
tarragon chicken and Italian vegetables
steak, frites, and Bernaise sauce
pork medallions, charcutiere sauce, and pommes dauphines (not tater tots!)
sea bream with fennel and white wine sauce
Beef Stroganoff and rice pilaf