Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The heat is on: cooking at a torrid pace

Anyone who has seen the frenzy of a restaurant kitchen in the middle of service can appreciate the steadily accelerating pace we face in Culinary Foundations III.

Chef Dan Fluharty reminds us repeatedly that he is pushing us so we are prepared for the hectic routine of most restaurants.

The past week is a prime example. We have gone from making two plated meals in 90 minutes to making a three-course meal in two hours. The difference might seem minimal. But the three-course meal always involves four or more of the seven basic cooking techniques and three-dozen or more ingredients for eight or nine plated items.

Take Tuesday's entrée: We made osso buco for the first time, braising it as we have done with other meats. On the same plate, we prepared a side dish of risotto Milanese, which we have made a couple of times before, along with braised leeks and carrots. First course was a Salade Nicoise with hand-made vinaigrette, and second course was a soup, borscht.

Chef's requirements for the repeat dishes are getting tighter, as are his overall standards. He wants proteins cooked to his specifications, sauces that are seasoned, flavorful and consistent in texture and starches and vegetables that are neither crunchy nor mushy.

Tall orders, yes. We are running fast but managing to keep up.

(Photo: My cooking station mates Richard Johnson (left) and Rob Park (center) and Chef/Instructor Dan Fluharty.)

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