Week 23: Paying Homage to Classical Technique

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My freshly honed MAC knife held poised and ready to slice through anything with little resistance. My hands shaking from nervousness and excitement. This was it. I had just turned out the pressed lobster & leek terrine from its mold and it was time to cut it open and see how it looked inside. To me, this wasn’t just any ordinary terrine. It represents years, decades of haute cuisine and classical French techniques that forever changed the culinary landscape. And so, I was quite anxious about slicing through the delicate form for the first time.

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The mosaic looked absolutely beautiful, though the guys sympathized with me after I had told them that Chef basically did it all. They likened him to an overly-eager dad who ends up doing his child’s science fair project himself instead of just “helping.” Haha. Still, the finished product reaffirmed my decision to not only work in a professional kitchen but to work in this one and to learn and study everything I can. It was just so freaking cool!

Sous Chef S helped me whip up a lobster vinaigrette using my infused lobster oil and some reduced lobster stock. It was intensely flavored, a great contrast to the ever-so-delicate terrine. (I preferred the terrine on its own; you could really taste the sweetness of the lobster and the mellowed, faintly onion-like flavor of the leeks.)

He also helped me with my major project today: mortadella! I measured my ingredients carefully and followed each step as instructed up until the stuffing of the casings. Now they are resting overnight in the walk-in, waiting to be poached tomorrow by the kind soul who is covering my station for me. Apparently, letting the stuffed casings sit yields a better salumi, so I’ll have to wait until my return on Tuesday to see how it turned out!

Service was slow for a Saturday and less stressful without Chef’s presence. I do admire the brigade system though; because of the pressure to not let your team down, every single person worked hard despite the absence of Chef’s watchful eye. Not a common sight — a dozen 20 and 30-something year old guys (and gals) coordinating in unison without the ringmaster. I was impressed.

It just so happened that Honey Bunny and his BFF Z came to the restaurant tonight to hang out at the bar at the same time that our dear friends L & A were seated in the dining room for a dinner date. Honey Bunny wasn’t eating, but L & A had ordered a charcuterie board and I was excited to show off my mise. After checking with Sous Chef S at the pass, I went ahead and put everything on it, including the new lobster terrine! I think it looked really cool and couldn’t resist taking a quick photo before walking it up to the window.

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I got to go out to the dining room to say hi/bye to L & A as they were leaving. It was really nice to see them and always fun to have friends come support my work and my new life. Making beautiful food and having that be an integral part of making people happy — that’s an amazingly rewarding feeling. What a great way to kick off the weekend!

PS: If anyone wants to see the man himself preparing the terrine, check out this Youtube video of Marco Pierre White cooking for his mentor Raymond Blanc. (All amazing names in the culinary world.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-D8Wzqs-xc

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