And here's a small sampling of the dishes we sent out. These pictures were taken on the first day of plating so they improved after this, but you get the idea.
Braised lamb over spatzle with red cabbage
White veal stew with red cabbage and asparagus
Each lab group had the opportunity to make pasta for a day from scratch, and on my group's pasta day we made spatzle (which I had never made before). It has to be beaten very quickly by hand for around 5 minutes to tighten and smooth the gluten strands. Since I don't mind getting messy in the kitchen, I quickly stepped up and volunteered to do the mixing.
Now our class has moved on to a class that pulls each of us out of our element. I've mentioned the culinary dining rooms several times now, and for the last 3 labs, we've been lucky enough to dine in them. Now the tables are turned and we are serving in one of them. In Essentials of the Dining Room, we learn the basics of the front of the house in a restaurant as well as the basics of fine dining. And at 5:45 each day, practice begins when we are required to serve tables. It's a very different kind of classroom than I've ever seen before. Yes, the picture below is my classroom. Each day I report here for lecture. Crazy, right?
The "classroom" even has a bar area where one person from our class acts as bartender each day. He or she prepares all of the non-alcoholic drinks for cold beverage service.
With entirely new subject material, comes a new uniform. We have all shed our chef whites and traded them in for white button-ups, black pants, and black service aprons. With my smile, you would never know how uncomfortable these uniforms are. The pants are high-waisted, pleated, unisex black pants that could not be more unflattering on the girls. I'm ready to put on my coat and checkered pants again.
Yesterday was our first day of service, and unfortunately I did not receive a table so I didn't have the opportunity to practice. Today was my first day ever waiting on a table. So of course, I would have to wait on a table with one chef and two senior TAs. Every other student seated in the dining room was a freshman student, and I had the chef. As if I wasn't nervous enough, right? Our dining service consisted of water, bread and butter, cold beverage (some of which we have to present and pour tableside), soup and salad, entree, and coffee. We will begin adding other courses as the next week and a half goes on, but that was plenty for me to start with. My table almost went off without a hitch. I made one mistake in clearing the table, but the chef still gave me a thumbs up and told me, "job well done" at the end of the meal, so I was happy. I just hope I can keep it up!