Journal Entry for my Skills Notebook

Thursday, April 8, 2010

This is a sample of the journal entries I will be doing daily for my skills notebook. The personal comments are down at the bottom if you want to skip the technical stuff.

Skills Lab – Chef Harris
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Objective: policies and procedures, intro to the course, knife skills, how to prepare white and brown stock
Brown Stock: Roasted beef bones covered in tomato paste
Mirepoix- 50% onion, 25% carrots, 25% celery- all also covered in tomato paste and roasted in the oven
Boquet garni- parsley, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns tied in cheesecloth
Utensils used: Chef’s knife, fish spatula for scraping pans

Today I learned: that when using knives, you cut from the front of the knife to the back of the knife. You should hone your knives between every task. You should sharpen your knives frequently. A dull knife will cut you more often than a sharp knife. If a knife is falling, do not attempt to catch it. I went out and bought a knife sharpener this evening and sharpened all my knives at home as well as in my kit.

Do not waste any product EVER.

I learned that beef stock takes 10-24 hours to cook and is better to be on the 24 hour side. This differed from what was taught by Chef Frost in concepts and theories. He taught 8-12 hours.
I learned how to make the different classical cuts. These included
Large Dice – 3/4” square
Medium Dice – 1/2” square
Small Dice – 1/4″ square
Brunoise – 1/8” square
Batonnet 1/4” x 1/4” x 2-2 1/2”
Julienne – 1/8” x 1/8” x 2-2 1/2”

These things were review for me today, which is always helpful:
When you are getting your station set up, first two things to do are to place a bucket of sanitizing solution under your table, and place a wet towel under your cutting board so it does not slide or slip.

When cutting things, your hand should be in a “C” shape.

The dice of mirepoix is different when making different stocks. A veal stock should be made with vegetables prepared with a large dice. A chicken stock should be made with vegetables prepared with a medium dice. A fish fumet should be made with vegetables prepared with a small dice or brunoise.

Personal observations: I almost had a panic attack today. I am such a perfectionist that I was attempting to make all my large dice carrots exactly ¾” square. When approached and told that I needed to do them faster, I quietly became upset. I held back tears because I didn’t want to be THAT person. I could just envision myself on Hell’s Kitchen or something and being yelled at and being the one to break down and get yelled at worse. So I bit back the tears, took some deep breaths, and went faster. I also went and bought some potatoes to practice cuts on at home at a leisurely pace so I can take my time learning to pick up speed. I want to be able to do things quickly, but as ocd as I am, things being done correctly are more important to me that doing things quickly. I don’t want to put my name on something that is done incorrectly or that is not top quality. This is definitely going to be a different lab for me than pastry. I have to keep reminding myself that if I knew everything, I wouldn’t need to be here and that mistakes need to be made to learn. That doesn’t mean that I do not get frustrated with myself or the process sometimes, though. I am sure I will feel better in a couple of weeks.


Monica Kaye said...

I love this! Some of my favorite Top Chef competitions are the cutting ones! I am terridied of knives and would say that it is my worst "skill" when cooking so I always ask Dan to chop, dice, etc. for me. It would be so empowering to learn.

katiebate7 said... are the cutest! I was wondering about your "panic attack" today. You'll practice a bit, and then be the best in the class :) Because that's what you do. I knew the fact about making a C with your hand when cutting. :) Good luck this quarter...MAYBE if you do well...I'll come visit ;)

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