One of the things I was a bit concerned about before starting school was my knife skills – well, really my lack of knife skills. One of the requirements to be accepted at CIA is six months of either front of the house (hostess, waiter) or back of the house (in the kitchen) experience. Mine is four years of front of the house…more than 15 years ago! Most of the people I’d be in class with worked in restaurant kitchens like last month.
Day two in the kitchen we started daily timed knife cuts…uggg, the dread in my stomach the night before! There are eight cuts we must master: 1/4” dice onions; 1/8” julienne onions; minced garlic; 1/8” shallot brunoise; mince/rinse parsley; 1/4” batonette potato; 1/8” alumette potato; and two concasse tomatoes. Thank you, Google videos! I studied videos the night before and made notes, which proved so helpful the next day when the chef gave a demo – I had a freakin’ clue…amazing!
The first day we were only tested on two cuts: 1/8” julienne onions and 1/8” brunoise shallots. Each student prints out a score card that s/he includes on the tray with the cuts so the chef can quickly give you a one to ten score and circle any number of pre-printed comments for each cut – LY = low yield; L = long; S = short; F = finer, etc. I rocked a 6 on shallot and 7 on onion with both marked R (random shapes) and INC (inconsistent), which I’m guessing is kind of the same thing. The best part was he handed back the score cards while I was standing next to a classmate, as we stirred chicken stock sitting in an ice bath, who was one of those “worked in a kitchen like last month” people. And bam…same grades!
On day three of our now timed cuts, I rocked a 6.75 on shallots (bitches were tiring me out!), 7’s on both potatoes, parsley and garlic, an 8 on onion julienne and…wait for it…an 8.5 on 1/4” dice onions. Other restaurant classmates are boasting 8’s and 9’s – and, kick ass, I’m right there with them, almost!
Last week, a sneaky photo was taken of me with said 8.5 onions (above). And tomorrow, I’m coming for those damn 6.75 shallots!