Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Day of School: Don't Be Tart-y For The Party

Well ok...THAT just happened! I just finished my first full night of class, and I'm feeling so many things right now--excited, overwhelmed, nervous...but mostly just plain tired!! We did so much in class, from going over more rules, to getting our supplies, to actual baking, and time just flew by in a whirlwind of activity.
Ok, first things first. I got to meet Ferran Adrià, aka "the world's greatest chef," who was signing copies of his book in the school's library. The mood at the school was palpable; all the culinary students were dorking out over his being there, and I'm honored to have been able to be there. All in all, not a bad opening to my culinary school experience, eh? I was even able to get a copy of his book signed for my friend, Diane! Hope she likes it.
Now on to the main event. After gathering in the lobby with the rest of my class, we were shown to our lockers to change. Because the chef's uniform is meant to convey a sense of cleanliness, it is considered unprofessional and unsanitary to wear the uniform outside of the kitchen environment, let alone on a disease-ridden subway, and so we will have to change into our clothes before class starts. Anyway, we made our way to the Pastry 1 kitchen, which will be our home for the first half of the course, where we were greeted by our new chef instructors (or as I call them, chef-essors, but I think I'm the only one who thinks that's clever), Chef Cynthia and Chef Joseph. After introductions, we get down to business, and go over the many rules and regulations that guarantee a safe and orderly kitchen environment. Sheesh, it's almost like there are dangerous stuff in the classroom, like knives and open flames!
But then! THEN!!! One of the moments we've all been waiting for! They start passing out our textbooks and our tool kits (hehe...tool kits)! A little back story on the textbook...ever since I started looking at the French Culinary Institute, I have been raving and drooling over their award-winning textbook. It's just amazing, and the pictures in it are total food porn. I mean, this is the cover!

It's essentially a coffee table book, and we won't be using it in class, as we've also been giving a photocopied version to make notes on, but I'm so excited to have a real copy.
Then, we moved on to the toolkit. Now, I knew the Culinary Arts students got a knife kit, full of all the different knives they might need in their kitchen, but I really had no idea what to expect in the Pastry kit. Well, turns out it's got everything you could imagine: knives, spatulas and scrapers, whisks, thermometers, a silpat, you name it! It was like Christmas, but instead of celebrating the birth of a deity, we were celebrating something cool!

Once we had our tools in place, there was only one thing to do...start baking! We actually got to start on our first dessert, a traditional tarte aux pommes, or apple tart. We started by learning the theory behind making tart dough...about gluten production, leavening, what the sugar does when introduced to the fat, etc, and it was all really interesting. Then, we got to make our own pâte sucrée, or sweet dough. Once the raw dough was assembled and put in the refrigerator to rest, we began making the apple compote. We learned a few knife skills, like the proper way to hold a knife and the proper way to dice an apple, and then we were set to work. I have to say, considering how flustered we all were being in a new kitchen and embarking on a whole new adventure, I think we all did really well! We'll see just how well it was on Thursday, when we finish the tart (that's what she said?).
All in all, it was a great night. It was so exciting to begin this new chapter of my life, and even though I'm absolutely exhausted, I can't wait to go back on Thursday to finish my tart and begin making pâte brisée and crème pâtissière.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go admire my toolkit (giggle, giggle).

**Don't forget to check out my friend Summer's blog, detailing her adventures as a "curd nerd," interning at the cheese mecca, Artisanal!

No comments:

Post a Comment