No plaice for old men

Today sucked.

I almost arrived late thanks to Extinction Rebellion suddenly appearing on Waterloo bridge.

Then, school started with a lecture about the exams. Chef said, “oh don’t worry they’re a long way away.” Yeah right. This is Intensive Cuisine and the exams are only 4 weeks away. The practical exam sounds rather daunting. I get 15 minutes to fill-in the gaps in a recipe. This can be missing measures or ingredients, or missing steps in the method. Then they take this recipe away and I have to cook it from memory and serve it in 2 hours. I’m observed by 2 chefs looking at my hygiene practices and culinary technique. I’m scored on wastage and my food goes to a tasting panel. For every minute I’m late serving I’m docked 2% from my total.

This puts my whole issue with timing and multitasking sharply into focus. This is my weakness and you might recall the biggest thing I feared before starting the course.

Today is also the beginning of fish week. Now I’m not a big fish eater but I promised myself I’d taste everything. I was looking forward to preparing and cooking fish because it’s not something I’ve ever done. Then lesson 13 happened. Unlucky for some? Unlucky for me. I had a bit of a ‘mare in the practical.


Objective? To make Dariole de Plie Tiède à l’Aneth, a warm plaice mousse with dill and white wine sauce.

Somehow I lost my mojo just past half way. As I fell behind, I started making silly mistakes. Then I had my “what the fuck am I doing here” moment.

I cooked my stock for too long.

My oven was on too low but I did manage to rescue my second mousse by carefully cooking it for a bit longer. It meant sacrificing my first mousse by cutting into it to see if it was done. It was literally cold in the middle.

My mousse came out of the dariole mould looking like a stubby phallus with too much skin. I hadn’t piped in the mixture evenly.

I burned my hand. Ouch. Sigh.

I forgot to warm my plate so I swiftly placed it in the oven with the food on the plate. Not exactly protocol.

In the end I served up around 20 minutes late. That would be a 40% reduction in my exam score. Shiiiit!

I put too much sauce on the plate and it could’ve done with a quick stir to reincorporate. On the plus side, my presentation was neat and tidy, the mousse had a good texture, and the mousse and sauce both tasted pretty good.

Chef’s warm plaice mousse with dill and white wine sauce

My attempt at a warm plaice mousse with dill and white wine sauce

Checking my score online later, I dropped marks on organisation. Fair enough. I was pretty dejected.

What could possibly top such a spiffing day? I left Le Cordon Bleu at 10pm and it took me 75 minutes to get home. Thanks Extinction Rebellion, who were still occupying London Bridge.

I’m going to bed thinking tomorrow is our first attempt at a potential exam dish. That means even greater emphasis on timing and multitasking. Just fabulous—not! Am I too old for this shit? I’m just venting.