En Francais, s’il vous plait.

It was International Chef week at school, the cuisine ….  southern French.  What I didn’t expect was to be talked to in French, while Chef spoke to everyone else in Anglais.   Last week, it was mainly ASL… this week French….  I’m curious as to what language I will speak next week.  English would be nice. 😀

It all started while fabricating a chicken.  Chef was instructing in English, I ask for some help, in English and he tells me what to do in French.   From that point on he would only speak to me in French.    Then….  i got bombarded to teach French to various others.     Doubt that will happen though.  Not enough time in my day.

Each day had its own theme…  Plating, Eggs, Lobster, Chicken and Desserts.   The most amazing thing I ate all week was an omelette souffle (meringue was folded into the eggs)…. it was heavenly.   The most difficult aspect of the week was tearing down the lobster and chicken and the combined smell of both of them.    We also started on our mother sauces and stocks.  Let the memorization begin.

The hot Bailey’s ice cream was an epic failure.   The methyl cellulose was too weak for what we needed it to do.  The school ordered the right product this time, so hopefully Wednesday will be better.   One thing to come out of that meeting on Wednesday is that the new guy knows what he talks about.   The other, is that the Chefs are willing to put in extra time, if I am willing to do the research and leg work.

There was no home cooking this week.  Tasting food all day long doesn’t make one hungry.  School is keeping me busier than I anticipated, and with the way the schedule looks from now until December,  its only going to get worse but better.

The other thing I learned or should I say experienced this week, is why Chefs are so neurotic about food and perfection.  Especially when the cuts have to be precise. Did a fine brunoise  (1/16 x 1/16 x 1/16)   and that’s when it clicked that perfection is what drives Chefs.   The meticulousness, precision and dedication to the culinary world is in my opinion what makes a great chef.  It’s what separates the men from the boys if you will.

Until next time…. Grub wisely


For a split second….

I thought that I could take my eyes of the prize and enjoy a little bit of life, but apparently I was wrong.   😦

This past weekend, I had the priviledge of participating in an ACF culinary certification.  It was an extremely long day, started at 8am finished up around 10 pm.   The chef evaluators gave me some key insights as to what they look for during certifications and competition.  Their big “pet peeves” if you will were sanitation, organization, and portion control.   I assisted the patisserie chef with an amazing Bavarian cream as well as a few other things, and a culinarian  with a consomme.  It was a great learning experience.  After the testing was completed, we all went out to eat, and of course critique one of the local Mexican restaurants.   Is authentic/traditional Mexican food as bland as I have been tasting???

I consider myself to have a big heart when it comes to people, a highly guarded one, but still a big one.  I made the fatal mistake of mixing my professional and personal lives this weekend, and ended up paying for it this morning.  Sometimes I wish there was a reset button we could press.   This morning almost saw me implode because of this mistake.  I did get a nice surprise in the mail today, a Notre Dame beanie. :D.   That and a nap helped turn my day around.   Its not wise for me to try and operate on three hours of sleep.

The other question that plagued me today was:   Am I in high school or college?  One of the weirdest assignments, I have ever been given in my college career was today and I quote:  “Copy the words and definitions from page 187 to be handed in tomorrow at line-up.”

My first week…

My first week of culinary school has almost come to an end, and what a journey it has been.  The last few days have been filled with not only classroom work, but preparing a menu for a charity event and training for the competition team.   Is this the point where I say I despise the tourne cut?   LOL.  The knife skills that I have been working on this week were the julienne and the batonette cuts, and the tourne.

The highlight of the charity meal is that all of the dishes are modern cuisine.  It will be a five course meal.  I am most excited about the dessert, as it will be a hot ice cream.  Yep, you read that right…. hot ice cream with a bit of Bailey’s Irish Cream :D.   It was an exhausting day figuring out the menu, as it took almost three hours to come up with four of the five dishes.  For the last dish, I will suggest a “living” dish of some kind.   I will say that the overall theme of the dish is mediterranean.

The competition team also has a preliminary menu for our January competition. All the branches of the military are represented by a different member of the team.  The menu will probably be finalized the first week of September.  I’m sure between now and January,  I will end up doing hundreds of hours of knife skills.  Hopefully, no more cuts.  Both thumbs were attacked by a knife, one while honing the other by the dreaded tourne. :P.

I surprised Career Services today, when I went in to discuss my externship with them and what steps I need to do to make myself more competitive for Viking Cruises.  I can’t do a cruise line for my externship, but they are going to make some calls and see which resort would be a good one.  They asked me if I was afraid to move.   Then tossed out the idea of Australia.  Eight weeks in Australia…. ummmm, where do I sign up????

I was asked today by the Bishop (not a housemate),  if I wanted to go to Chicago over Christmas break for a few days.  I replied, only if I can eat at Graham Elliot Bistro.  :D.  So that trip is tentatively on the horizon.

I have finished my juice detox, and love the fact my stomach is never burdened with food.  Now, I have moved on to a more substantial juice that provides more protein and better flavor.   Tomorrow’s juice includes a triple berry mix, soy milk, veg protein powder, spinach and pears.

The Challenge had to be altered as parts of it had to change for reasons outside of my control.  However,  it will still happen, as scheduled but will have to be moved to mid-September before I can start.

Until next time…. Grub Wisely

All Things…..

Have a beginning and an end.

The first two days of classes are over.  Homework has already been assigned.  The game is already afoot.   The books for this term (seven months) are amazing.   My first two classes are culinary foundations and sanitation.  With the administration aspect of both classes successfully completed, its time to move on to what I came here to do… carve my path in this world.

Had a meeting with both executive chefs today, and announced my intent to compete.  Both agreed to me being on the school’s competition team.  The assigned classical dish for the 2014 competition season is a Matelote.  (A fish appetizer).  The remainder of the cooking phase includes a soup or salad, and entree and a desert.   State competition this year is in Bend, Oregon, not sure on the day.

Not sure what I was expecting regarding homework, but I know that  I am honestly surprised at how much homework has been assigned in just the first two days of class.   Knife skills start tomorrow and my first time cooking in a professional kitchen Thursday afternoon.   Homework which still needs to be done :).  Just a ton of reading and questions to get answered.

Until next time…. grub wisely

Hagg Lake and the Oregon Zoo

A grand pirate adventure…. how I would sum up this weekend.

I did a little work for the Vet clinic got invited to the work party at Hagg Lake.  I was able to do a lot of networking.  Ended up with a catering job, a personal chef gig and asked to work a few hours a month at a clinic .  Finally had my first Oregon brew, a Dead Guy Ale.  It reminded me of a weak Guinness.  Would I drink it again?  Yes…but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a six pack.

The Oregon Zoo was a bit of a disappointment, but still enjoyable.   We were able to visit the entire zoo in under a few hours.  I paid special attention to the aquatic exhibits as I want to volunteer.  I expected the aquatic exhibits to be cleaner.  There weren’t any wolves though 😦 .  I watched a live bird show and was almost hit by the hawk.   The catering job is currently being worked out with the zoo for sometime in December.

The weekend end with an American horror story: asylum marathon.

Juicing Days 5-7

Day 5: apples, red cabbage,carrots, cilantro, cucumbers, fennel bulb, ginger, lemon, lime, poblano pepper,  and pears.  The fiber: 6 g, protein: 22 g, calories 916

Day 6: apples, beets, red bell pepper, blackberries, carrots, celery, coconut water, cucumbers, ginger, kiwi, mint, orange, pears, spinach and a sweet potato.   Fiber: 5, protein 26 g, calories 846

Day 7:  apples, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, fennel bulb, jalapeno pepper, kale, lemon, parsley, radish, spinach and tomato.  Fiber:  4 g, protein 37 g, calories 720

There are recipes to these drinks, not all of the ingredients get juiced together.  As I mentioned previously, I will be altering the recipes over the course of time.

Weekly totals:  Fiber 50, protein 190, and 6550 calories.  Why am I all of a sudden adding nutritional content?   The ACF requires a basic nutritional breakdown, and I figured it would be good to know with my recipes.

On a positive note.  I am down 10 lbs :D, and now my uniforms don’t fit… HA HA HA.

Went and ran a ton of errands today, before classes start.   Picked up some new shoes, got a haircut, and….. ate a gyro.   What is it with me and gyros?   What is it with Portland and gyros?   They get better every time I eat one, or is it just me?  What…. so I love Mediterranean food.  😀

Planning on watching Nightmare before Christmas, to see if I can find some inspiration for the Halloween culinary competition.

Until next time…. Grub wisely 😀

Orientation Day 2 et al

Happy 101st Birthday Julia :D.   I look forward to walking in your footsteps.

Day Two of orientation…completed.  The big events of the day were dealing with financial aid,  getting my uniforms,  the new student orientation meeting, and the meeting with Chef.  The day was highly productive. 😀   I need to decide whether or not to have my uniforms dry cleaned.   All the various meetings I had were informative and productive.  I walked away with the ACF student culinary competition manual from the meeting with Chef, to prepare for the hot foods team as well as the November competition.    The rules of competition state various aspects to include which protein I can utilize at the competition.   I will probably come up with a Mediterranean dish using lamb as the protein.

I will be hitting the ground running, once classes start next week.   Officially my classes are 10-2 but with the extra curriculars, the culinary side of my day will end about 5:30.   Adding in the time at the gym and travel, my day will be about 8-8.  The extras start Tuesday afternoon with Chef and the competition team.   I have to read the manual before Tuesday.

Hate to cut this short, but I am exhausted.

In the words of the birthday girl….

Bon Apetite!!


Juicing Days 3 and 4

The Ingredients for Day 3:  apples, beet, blackberries, carrots, celeriac root, raspberries, ginger, grapes,  grapefruit,  lime and orange.   Total Fiber 11.5g, protein 18, calories 1265.

Day 4 inlcudes:  apples, basil, beet, blackberries, carrots, celery, chard, cucumbers, fennel bulb,  ginger, kale,  lime, red onion, parsley and spinach.  Total fiber 6g, protein 36, calories 859

The totals for days one and two:  Day 1 fiber 9g, protein 22, 1004 cals;  Day 2 fiber 8.5, protein 24, 939 calories.

To be completely honest, some of these drinks are unpleasant.  A few are amazing.  Over time the recipes will evolve into what I hope is a nutritious and very tasty drink.   These recipes belong to the “Vet.”  So all credit should go to him.  Yes he is one of the roommates, (and yes they all will have nicknames for the purpose of this blog.)

Did anyone else know that it’s Brownie for Brunch Month?  Tomorrow is Julia Child’s birthday.  Appropriate that my last day of orientation at a French Culinary school happens to be on the same day?   Coincidence?  I think not.    The legend that brought French Cuisine to America with her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking.    So after a day on campus, I’ll probably come back to the house and watch  Julie and Julia, just to celebrate.

As I begin my journey,  I feel like there is still so much to learn about the culinary world.   It’s a little intimidating to be on this precipice, but my future seems to be filled with hope.

Until next time…. Grub wisely

Am I willing to change?

Nothing is more of a waste of your time than to be inspired and not take action.  Transformation begins when you visualize it and then put it into motion through effort.  You’re either going to show up today or you’re going to get shown up in life.

I’m here because I was willing to make a sacrifice.  I was willing to get on a plane and fly to a place where I knew no one, and I went to war once I got here.  Am I willing to go until I collapse?

Day after day after day.  I push my mind and body even when it’s screaming.    I take myself past failure and I dedicate myself entirely to progress.   I pick up something healthy instead of a hotdog, or a book instead of a video game.   I chose a life of improvement over one that settles for mediocrity.  All these little things, add up.  Greatness is just a series of small steps done well.  I’m here to get more out of myself.    Why would I do it at all?  I do it because when I’m tested with a battle in life I know that i can handle it.  I have the ability to go through anything that’s thrown my way.  Because I’ve been through hell and back and I’m not done yet.  Tomorrow is a new day and a new goal.  Tomorrow is a fresh start.  Your only opponent is yourself.   That’s the toughest one there is.   The one looking back at you in the mirror saying, “I did it.  What’s next?  I want something more and there better be something bigger and better the next time around.”   Because pain is the tough stone of growth.  I go to battle everyday.  Because I am in a war between the person that I am but more importantly the man that I’ll become.

What you are today is NOT the end result.  SO… now it’s your turn.  I’m telling you, you need to dig deep.

What are you made of?  Do you want more out of life? Are you just okay with being average?

Meatless Monday (Juicing Day 2)

The twitter world is a buzz with meatless monday,  even some of the great chefs (my opinion) like Jamie Oliver added there two cents with a gorgeous zucchini salad.

Drinks 4-6:  The colors of the day seem to be  red and green.   (a pic of the drinks are on instagram)

4:  apples,  beets, carrots, chard

5:  apples, cantaloupe, chard, ginger, honey dew,  kale

6:  apples, red cabbage, chard, ginger, lemon

Its heavy on the greens to replace the potassium and protein lost due to lack of animal protein.  Why did I decide to “suddenly” start juicing?  Nutrition is arguably the most important aspect of my life.  I practice eating healthy on a regular basis and plays a massive role in achieving my health goals.   I believe that people carry a nasty stigma which correlates the word “nutrition” to ideas of starving yourself and limiting food.    There is a bit of history behind why I juice.   The majority of the time I lived in OKC,  I lived with my brother.   Our diet consisted of eating out all the time, namely fast food for convenience.  So over the course of a school year, without working out much.   I gained a lot of weight.  I weigh 235 lbs, as of this morning.  I used to weigh just under 185, and that’s what I want to get back too.   I have the knowledge, I think,  to regain that leanness.   There is also a housemate who has a sizeable knowledge on nutrition.  I knew coming to Portland, that it would be a series of changes.  Three of which I needed to start tackling before starting school.  On a positive note, I am a month free of soda and a week free of coffee.   There have been moments of weakness, I assure you.  Times when I wanted nothing more than to drink a Coke or have some Starbucks.   I have replaced them with herbal teas.

On the menu for dinner is fettuccine alfredo.

Less than a week before I start classes.  Good luck to all those who are heading back to school for yet another semester/trimester.   Let the fun begin 😀

“We may live without poetry, music and art; We may live without conscience and without heart; We may live without friends and without books; but civilized man cannot live without cooks.”

Until next time…. Grub wisely 😀