Basic Cuisine done

Well I’m pooped.

Exams are done, Basic Cuisine is completed, and word on the street is I’ve passed. Yippee!

I sat the written exam on Tuesday. It was straight forward enough. The practical exam was yesterday morning. Twas gruelling but good. Glad I practiced…

Trout with braised lettuce and Hollandaise

Sirloin with turned artichoke

Chicken mousse with courgette spaghetti

Lemon sole in Dugléré sauce

If there was a pool running I’d have put my money on the exam dish being the trout. Let’s just say I’d hypothesised that the written exam was possibly and cunningly preparing us for the practical. How wrong could I be? Plain wrong as it turns out. The exam dish was fillets of lemon sole in a Dugléré sauce, served with spinach in beurre noisette, mushrooms à blanc, and cherry tomatoes.

Certificate for Basic Cuisine

The practical exam actually started with a 15-minute written test called the Bon d’Economat which is all about the recipe, method and plating. I had to fill in the blanks in the ingredients, weights and measures, also in the method, and draw a labelled diagram of the serving plate.

After those 15 minutes, all students were ejected from the kitchen except the first 2 alphabetically (by fortune of surname I’m numero uno). I had 5 minutes to set up my station, check off ingredients, grab any extras needed like ice, string and baking paper, and basically get ready to start cooking. Apparently students forget to wash their hands before doing anything, especially the first 2 as they’re already in the kitchen so to speak. I washed my hands. Then at 5-minute intervals pairs of students returned to the kitchen. This essentially staggered serving.

During cooking we were scored on techniques, organisation, and hygiene by 2 chefs. Once served, my plate disappeared into another room for chefs on the tasting panel to score it on presentation and taste. Are all the elements present? Is the plate clean and hot? Is the food hot? Have the ingredients been correctly cooked and seasoned? I was chuffed to serve on time and, under exam conditions, I was satisfied with the plate I put up. I think back to my little wobble with the fish mousse when it struck me I was slow in the kitchen. Somehow, between then and now I found another gear. Don’t know where it came from. Perhaps growing familiarity with techniques. I dare say the future holds more wobbles and even higher gears.

This morning I sat with chef for a debrief and received my certificate. Oooooh! Shiny! I’ve always said, “celebrate every small success” so I’m ready to celebrate this small step on my longer journey.

Intermediate Cuisine starts on Monday. 9 hours of lessons 5 days a week. No rest for the wicked. Looks like I’ll get most weekends back. They’ll be for sleeping. I’m expecting more advanced techniques and I know some practicals serve up a starter and main course rather than just a single dish. The rumour is there’s a rabbit dish that starts hares running, if you pardon the pun.

Exciting! Can’t wait.