This is the moment all of us culinary students were waiting for. We have been watching it be built from the ground up as we commuted from culinary classes to the main campus for other classes every week. We would hear our professors glamorizing all of the features that this new building would have like state of the art cooking equipment, revamped classrooms, a beautiful lobby where you can study, three kitchens (general, international and baking), a live plant wall and so much more.
On April 19, 2018 the college held a grand opening of the new culinary center, in which we students could volunteer to help cook. During this period, I have never seen so many culinary students. You only know the culinary students you took classes with, but on this day there were white chef coats with our school logo everywhere, some with a cool attitude while others running frantically for something to do. The unique thing about the inside of the building is that there are glass windows instead of wall for each kitchen connecting to the hallway, so people in the hallway can see the students cooking. I was assigned to help in the general kitchen which my food production 1 professor (Chef Monroe) was overseeing. This kitchen was in charge of appetizers. We produced fruit salad, pasta salad and bruschetta, all arranged beautifully with edible flowers.
When the doors were opened for guests (professors, chefs, students etc.) to come into the building, we got hit first. People were coming in and we had to share the food for them, exemplifying what we learned in our hospitality classes. We had someone eyeballing when a product was running low, so they could bring a fresh tray in. It was really fascinating to see how these types of events operated. After about 20 minutes I switched and asked to help out in another kitchen. This is where I met Chef Robinson. His team was working on the main courses. I joined in and almost immediately got tasked with removing fat from Briskets, there were about 8-10 of us shaving fat from the beef and putting them in containers for the chef to season. He then roasted them in the oven to get color, then covered each with foil to lock in the juices without getting the brisket too dark. He also had a dozen turkeys roasting in another oven. While those things were in the works a few of us were taught how to make a slurry. A slurry is a thickener made of equal parts water and cornstarch. It is similar to roux but it keeps your sauce clear and glossy, rather than cloudy. Once making this we poured it into our mushroom gravy sauce that would be going with the filet mignon that seemed to appear out of nowhere (I missed the preparation of this while I was on the appetizer team). The gravy was made by sautéing shallots, then mushrooms and garlic. Next add red wine to deglaze the pot, next add beef stock, rosemary, salt and pepper, then bring it to a boil. Lastly we added the slurry we were taught to make, which we saw slowly but surely thicken the gravy.
Once the meat courses were ready we bought them outside of the kitchen in front of the glass window where we had red heat lamps and fancy containers keeping all of meat warm. There were four of us assigned to the carving station at a time, a lot of the other students were too nervous to volunteer to go first. I and three others ended up volunteering and it was so cool to actually see how many people were in the building smiling and complimenting us, our hard work and the new building as we sliced off pieces of turkey, brisket and filet mignon in mushroom gravy for them.
After my group of four served for 30 minutes, the next four were switched in and we were free to help the other two kitchens if needed or enjoy the event and try the food with the guests. I went to the international kitchen, and just observed as they made an oyster dish while conversing with others who were on the sidelines watching. Once this group put their dish out, most of us exit the kitchen and went to the front lobby to get the full experience. The school had master chefs visiting from China doing live presentations on tea making, tofu carving, and more. Our lobby was such an upgrade, I wish I had pictures of it. Maybe in a future blog I will go back to visit the college and take better pictures. But here is the only some picture of their work I got that day.
Lastly, but definitely not least as I made my way through, I reached the pastry section which was headed by Chef Thomas (whom I have not prior to this event). They PUT WORK IN. The cakes looked very appetizing, there were cookies, cups of custard with different toppings and everything looked so neat. I honestly cannot remember what I tried, since this was two years ago, but I know it was amazing. I mean look at these creations!
I do regret not taking more pictures, or thinking about blogging back when I was actually in school, but that is something I cannot change. What I will do now though, is continue to bring exciting blogs of my past in culinary school to give you all a feel of what it was like. Honestly writing these blogs makes me want to go back and write as I am actually enrolled. Who knows, I might go back sometime in the future just to take a class or two. Anyways, enough of my rambling.
I hope you all enjoyed this blog, I enjoyed writing it and reliving this awesome event. Be blessed and look forward to my new recipe next Tuesday ! Please share, leave a like and a comment on what you thought.