This week we learned how to dice and we learned about the 5 mother sauces (béchamel, Espagnole, tomato, hollandaise, and velouté). We learned how to make a macaroni with a roux base: we used half a pound of butter and half a pound of flour for the roux. After that, we slowly added one gallon of milk and 3 pounds of cheese (mozzarella, Monterey jack, and white cheddar). We baked it with panko crumbs (mixed with butter and paprika) on top and it was delicious! We also made hollandaise, which is what you put on top of eggs benedict.
My “aha” moment this week was learning how to dice onions, carrots, and celery. I had cut these vegetables at home plenty of times before, but I never did it with the same kind of intention that was necessary in class – I would just cut to small (often uneven) pieces and move on. I think that it is really important to know why you are doing something and to aim to do it properly.
This was event week (the event was called “Savvy Soups”) and my group made New England Clam Chowder with homemade oyster crackers and a non-alcoholic Cape Codder on the side. Overall, our event was a success! Tuesday was prep day and Thursday was the event, and we only had an hour and fifteen minutes to prepare everything for Thursday. Luckily, my group and I had a solid prep plan, in part because we practiced making the soup two separate times. Prep day was pretty smooth because we knew exactly what to do.
My “aha” moment for the week came with working on the dessert for the event. I made profiteroles, which are choux pastry filled with ice cream and topped with chocolate. I had never made ice cream before and never made pâte à choux (although I practiced at home the day before event day). I learned a lot about how delicate both the ice cream and pâte à choux were and how important it is to be delicate with both. Even though I practiced the pâte à choux, I didn’t know exactly what to look for when making it and the dough ended up slightly chunky (probably from over-cooking when on the stove). I then had to strain the whole thing. Also my ice cream was slightly chunky, likely from over-cooking the egg yolks. The profiteroles still turned out tasty, but knowing what to look for and how to make them better is what can help me turn from a good baker to a great one!
This week we shared our results, lessons, and reflections from the Savvy Soups event. For my group, it was good for us to reflect on what went well and what we could do better, because even though the event felt like an overall success, there are always ways to improve and grow. On Thursday, the TA Hannah taught our class and we learned about exotic fruits and vegetables and different senses of taste.
My “aha” moment came when the chef shared his thoughts on the event. The point was not to make the best soups in the world, but to learn from each other and to work as a team. He told us that success (especially in this industry) is about how well you work with people. This means how well you work with your teammates or coworkers, but also how well you work with your guest and how far you go to make sure that the guest is happy. When we sell food, we don’t just sell food, but also the experience. Because this is so intangible, it matters not only how good the food is, but also how the guest feels. When a guest isn’t pleased, you have ot acknowledge the issue, take responsibility, ask how to make it better, then follow through. What was really interesting was that Chef told us that research has been done on guest satisfaction and actually those guests who have a complaint and then are treated well by staff who fix the problem actually leave more satisfied than the guests who had no issues with the restaurant.