May 09, 2006

culinary school flashbacks

I used a recipe that one of my Chef-Instructors gave me a long time ago:

Chef Drumlake was in charge of doing a dinner for Chef Rosier's product demo for Ghirardelli Chocolate. We student workers were given a recipe for something called "Firecracker Ono" but he only told us to make the fruit salsa. Fresh pineapple, mango, cilantro, red chili, and red onion. Good stuff.

I've held on to it all this time, and finally made the complete dish. The "firecracker"part was pieces of lime-marinated fish, dressed with chilis and cilantro, then wrapped in nori and thenwrapped in rice paper. Really pretty presentation.

I made it five times over the past week:
  • once to test it out, following the directions but couldn't find ono and used tuna. Pretty good.
  • once to test it, but instead of frying it, I tried spraying it with oil and baking it. Not as good, but not horrible.
  • once to refine that last test, frying it briefly and then baking it in a 450 oven to cook the fish through. pretty good, and less splattering
      luckily, my husband who had never eaten seaweed before, liked this a lot, because he ate it three nights in a row.
  • then once for a client who loved it, and said to put it on their "repeats" list
  • then again for a client who didn't like it, in fact, disliking it so much he was motivated to send me an e-mail to tell me so.
It's a matter of personal taste, of course, but it's so confusing that one client just LOVES it and another just HATES it. I'm not so much proud of myself when someone loves my food, but when someone dislikes it, I can't help but take it personally.

It reminded me of when I entered that first cooking competition at school... I practiced so many times, and Kelly dutifully ate the same meal many times in a row. On the day of the competition, the other students raved over my braciole and the rich tomato sauce it was dressed with, but Chef Parker scolded me because he thought it tasted like canned tomatoes...even though he said in class recently that you'd be an idiot to use fresh tomatoes out of season. It was, after all, December. Would it have been useful for him to have told me how to avoid that in the future? You'd think so.... but he didn't. I had to learn it for myself.

Funny what you learn in culinary school... sometimes it has nothing to do with cooking.


  1. So, how do you avoid "canned tomato" taste?

  2. I'm going to culinary school in September...maybe in one of your upcoming posts you could give some advice? Would be much appreciated!

    Also, tips/advice for the first job out of school. How to get it, etc.



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