Maitre d' and a Buffetier

Just as we had a Chef of the Day in our production kitchen, my Essentials of the Dining Room class has a Maitre d' for the day. It was honestly a position I was trying to avoid because I need the practice serving, but on Monday Chef Trzcinski called out, "And today Frances will be our Maitre' d." I spent most of the day running between classrooms asking chefs what we would be serving, how many of each entree they would be able to offer, what sizes and shapes of plates would they need, and how many students they would be sending to our dining room for dinner. I then had to take that information and decide how many guests I would place at each table, how many of each entree the rest of my classmates would be allowed to offer, ensuring that the dishes from our dishroom made it up to the kitchens for plating, distributing checks and check books, making price sheets, talking to the servers about the menu and making sure they know of any allergens in the dishes. I felt as though I was playing a long game of hurry-up-and-wait. I was running around until service time, but once service began I had nothing to do. I'm not complaining of course. It was nice to have a break.

Chef Trzcinski has also been trying to give us experience with buffet service which often requires buffetiers. One day last week we had a deluxe buffet meaning that only our entrees were served through buffet service. And on Monday, we had an elaborate dessert buffet that spanned three 8' tables. It was covered in decadent, freshly baked pastries, hand-made truffles and chocolates as well as displayed some of the pastry students' show pieces. I wish I had taken pictures, but students had already started devouring it before I was able to get over to it with my camera.
We've slowly been adding elements to our sequence of service, and with more elements comes more formal tables. Our tables have improved greatly since last week with the addition of table linens, more elaborate napkin folds, and more extensive place settings. It's a daily ritual for each of us to stand by our tables promptly at 5:00 pm for inspections. Yesterday, I had one "miniscule element" wrong with my table as did most of my classmates. I analyzed my table, remeasured the distance between the heels of my pieces of flatware and the edge of the table, and checked to make sure everything on my table was completely in line. When she came back to ask me what was wrong with my table, I told her I thought one of my forks was a little off-center. She told me I was correct, and that my fork had been way off. I literally slid one fork over 3 mm and she told me that fixed it. 3 mm on one piece of flatware?!! I can't even imagine how strict they are going to be on us in our sophomore level dining room class.
Despite how strict she is on our performance, there are definitely perks to this dining room class. Because we only get leftovers from all of the kitchens for dinner, we are fed excellent dessert before service time. Below is the lemon lime cake that was brought up from one of the freshman labs the other day. We've also had carrot cake, devil's food cake, apple strudel, lemon danishes and my favorite - warm blueberry scones with a cinnamon sugar topping. Delicious!
On the downside, we did have to wear hairnets for the first few days of class (as if our uniforms weren't unflattering enough.) So here I am with two of my closest friends here modeling our oh-so-attractive hair nets. Thankfully, chef has laxed up and doesn't require us to wear them anymore.
Yesterday, we began wine service, and therefore had a wine tasting before class. We sampled three or 4 different wines and cleansed our palates with fresh croissants. I wasn't complaining, and that's for sure. Johnson and Wales has an unusual drinking policy on campus. Outside of the classroom, the campus is dry, but you are allowed to drink at any age (even if you aren't legal) within the classroom because the alcohol is being used for educational purposes. It's kind of backwards if you ask me.