Post-Grand Opening

As the title implies, this event I am going to divulge into entails what happened shortly after the spectacular grand opening of the new culinary center. If you have not read my previous blog about it, you should go and check that out before reading this one.

April 20, 2018. The day after the grand opening, there was to be a friendly competition between the Chinese master chefs and our instructors. There were four teams for each side, and the instructors for PGCC were each able to choose a student in the culinary program to be their partner. This excited me considering I was a good student, with good grades, and obviously good cooking. There’s no way I wouldn’t be chosen by one of the Chefs. I was actually pulled aside prior to this by Chef Whitfield and told that I would be on his team. I was so ecstatic that I was brainstorming (didn’t plan to use that word) dishes before we even were told what the restrictions of the competition were.

Now remember, the new building has 3 kitchens. So the Chinese chefs got one kitchen and PGCC team got one of the other kitchens. All of the cooks were at their station in position, except Chef Whitfield. That is when I was told he ended up having to be a judge, therefore I was now out of the contest…. RIP. Atleast, now I had the opportunity to stroll through the kitchens and watch the other peoples cooking techniques and ideas (which I am still grateful for). When I went to watch the Chinese chef’s, I noticed the aromas in the air, the cooking techniques, the plating style were all completely different.

Before I knew it, time for them to bring their dishes to the presentation room had come. By this time I was reduced to camera man ( no offense to camera men lol). Almost everyone in the competition was asking me to take pictures of them with their competitors in a contest I was supposed to be apart of. So what did I do? I took pictures.

Sadly, I don’t have many in depth pictures of each dish with descriptions of what was made since I was taking pictures from eleven different phones. But I do have one from the Chinese team that looks very elaborate.

I have no idea what it is, but I think it was made with apples. You can definitely apprectiate the artistic eyes of the chef that made this though. He probably used food tweezers to carefully lay each slice on the other, after carving the (supposed) apple slices to look like flower petals. I noticed that most of dishes from their team looked like a depiction of something in nature, and the flavors were very fresh and mellow.

After I finished taking pictures, there was no real winning team declared that I can remember. Probably because it was a friendly competition between both countries, and chef’s don’t like losing. Now, everyone including the few administrators of the college that were invited, got a plate and went to try everything. I was hungry after watching all that cooking, but more than anything I was itching to cook. I was inspired. Luckily, next on the agenda, was actualy hands on training from the Chinese Chef’s the following day.

April 21, 2018. We are back at the culinary center in the first kitchen, there are tons of photographers outside the kitchen taking pictures through the windows. On the stainless steel table in the center of the kitchen, I see bowls full of ginger, cucumber, apples and kimchi. The first technique we were taught was to cut the ends of a cucumber off, then slicing almost all the way through at a 45 degree angle, then rolling the cucumber over to the other side and doing the same cut but from the opposite direction. When you were finished you had a cucumber that when you held it up, was like a slinky toy. I have no idea how this works, but it did. Next we were shown how to carve ginger into the shape of a leaf and a very fine julienne, that would both be used as a garnish. Then we put the cucumber into a pan and rubbed the kimchi on and let it sit. While sitting , it abosrbs some of the vinegar and spice from the kimchi. With a very good eye, one of the Chinese chef’s plated the salad up and it looked very pleasing. The salad has very few ingredients, but because of the labor that goes into the garnishes, it could be sold for a good price.

Ginger leaf garnish
Chinese Cucumber Salad

Now that the salad was done, we moved on to the apples. One of the chefs peeled them all, diced them into chunks, then coated them with cornstarch. He got a pan that looked like it was filled with simple syrup (water and sugar). Once the simple syrup was simmering, he placed the cornstarch apples into the simple syrup and they slowly started to brown. As they reached a golden brown and he was taking them out, there were strands of sugar following the chunks, almost looked like spun sugar. All of us intrigued, tried a piece and it tasted like a candied apple. The texture on the outside was very hard and stuck to your teeth when you chewed, but the flavor was addictive; sugar. After we finished learning these new skills, it was time to take pictures again and then head home, and, yes this time I was in the photo.

That is all this week, I hope you enjoyed reading today’s blog.

Have a blessed one, share, like and leave a comment if you so wish.

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