The photos are not from Culinary School. They are from Stephan Pyles in Dallas! More on that later.
I didn’t know that I had been cutting up chicken wrong all my cooking life until today. When Chef Waier demonstrated the proper way I was amazed to see how much easier it would have been had I learned this many years ago (and a lot less dangerous than my haphazard method), so it’s worth the price of school know the proper technique for fabricating chicken (pause….not).
Today we were educated about all things chicken (and other poultry) and given the packet of assigned dishes. I scanned the pages of recipes and didn’t think it looked too bad. Should have read them a little more carefully though, but more about that later. My team today consisted of Robert, Julie, and I. We were given the following dishes to prepare:
Country braised chicken with sauce–Robert
Pan-fried chicken with spring mix salad and vinaigrette–Julia
Poached Tarragon chicken with simmered rice–Julie
Roasted bone-in chicken breast with Duchess potatoes–Julia
Our dishes were good and bad. Julie’s was perfect and one of the best they had seen. Robert’s braised chicken was great, although points off for having too big and uneven vegetables, my pan-fried chicken tasted good (my spice rub) but was a little overcooked on the bottom, thanks to the too-hot convection oven time, and the roasted chicken was a tad dry, but still good. Disaster was Duchess potatoes that I forgot to brush with butter and heat in oven. Not good to serve raw egg to the instructors. This is what happens when you don’t read the recipe all the way to the end.
Live and learn. Also, I forgot to put the vinegar in the vinaigrette. I did put orange juice in it, but nothing escapes Chef Nona’s palate and she caught it. I swear she can taste EVERYTHING.
Overall we did OK but I felt a little frenzied toward the end and started making mistakes, so lesson learned–timing is important, watch the ovens, and pay attention to details.
At the end the class got a big lecture on “hitting the wall”, not being serious enough, people goofing off, and that we were not up to par for this stage of the program. It was pretty negative and not all that accurate for some of us. I take this program very seriously. I mean, who else in their right mind would get up at 5 AM at least 3 days a week and cook whole meals for practice!
Oh well, next week we are going to work on mother sauces. I will practice and be ready to go.
On a more positive note, my husband and I went to Stephan Pyles’ restaurant in Dallas to celebrate our anniversary. I’ve got all his books and studied the creative and delicious looking photos for years so it was great to finally go. He even came to our table and talked to us for awhile. I told him I really enjoyed finally getting to try his signature dishes and about the culinary school. He asked several questions and seemed interested. Later he sent us a gift dish of chocolates!
Above, see the photos of some of the things we tried:
Ceviche sampling: tuna, salmon, and sea bass
Caesar salad: his version uses chipotle and tamarind in the dressing
Bone-in rib-eye on mushroom/bean ragout with onion rings
Heaven and Hell cake