Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Top Chef?

Fall semester is in full swing! I am thrilled to be back on a campus with a full-fledged nutrition department, taking full-fledged nutrition classes again. Anatomy and Biochemistry have their positives, but it's nice to be working with food again ...and will I be working with food! Making food, serving food, experimenting with food, putting food into menus, and of course, eating food! Every campus I've been on runs their nutrition department a little bit differently. Some campuses focus on research. Other campuses have their own hospital, so the classes are more clinical. My current campus has its very own, very fancy, student-run fine dining restaurant, because both Dietetics and Hospitality Management are offered as majors. We share many classes. And when you put students who love food together with students who love high-end customer service, magic happens! This semester I will be learning about both the "front end" and the "back end" of a restaurant. The front end consists of serving in the dining room. The back end consists of cooking in the kitchen. This past week I was assigned to the kitchen, and randomly put on pastry duty. Those who know me well will find this amusing, as I am a much better chef than baker. To put it more bluntly, I am a TERRIBLE baker. The head chef did not seem to care as I mumbled my feeble excuses about how I'd be so much more helpful chopping onions or washing dishes. Nope. "You'll make pastry," was all he said before leaving me in the company of a convection oven, a 45 pound bin of flour, a mixer the size of a bathtub, and a recipe for cookies. For 100. By the time the pastry bag was fearfully gripped in my little hand, I had re-weighed the macadamia nuts twice, almost ruined the chocolate ganache, and dropped a sheet pan on my foot. Imagine any crazed cooking show on the Food Network, and that's pretty much the scene. I am sweating from the heat of the ovens. There is pastry dough in my hair. I am barking "Yes, chef!" each time he has told me--and rightly so-- that my cookies must be uniformly sized. (For the record, it was only 6 times.) Totally drained, I was thrilled to sit down and have lunch at the end of my shift. Oh, and in case you were wondering... the cookies were delicious! Chef sent me home with a box.