Bradley D’Couto Fall 2018 Blog
by Bradley D’Couto, December 19, 2018
The Fall quarter was one of the most information-driven quarters in my experience thus far at Kendall College. I have just completed my fifth block and this means that I am a now one quarter away from walking out of the doors of this great institution and I can say in all confidence that I could not be more ready to tackle the industry head-on. Kendall College has taught me to be like a bull in a rodeo raring to go as soon as the gates open.
The beautiful weather was only a plus this quarter and the fairly laid back class schedule helped me rejuvenate after the last stressful quarter and to prepare for the one that comes next. In this block, I had gone through classes like Advanced Skills and Modern Cuisine. During the course of the quarter, I was also required to stage as a part of professional development which helps make us well-rounded individuals considering that internship searches are just around the corner.
Advanced Skills was the fun part of the quarter. It was a fast-paced, high-intensity class by which we were required to put out a three-course meal every day which the chef was at liberty to add side dishes and also change around a few dishes depending upon the product that we had gotten in that day. We would work as groups and as individuals. The class lasted ten days. On the days that we worked as groups we had a knife skills assessment which on day one we had 30 minutes to complete the cuts and by day ten we had only 15 minutes with every team day 5 minutes being deducted from the time allotted. After the assessment, we had to start with the preparation of our three-course menu which like the assessment was time constrained. We started with three and a half hours and every time we met as a team would have 15 minutes deducted from our cooking time. By the end of the class, we had only two hours and thirty minutes to complete the production of the menu. This class taught us about organization, timing, creativity and cleanliness. During our first days we had numerous pots and pans on our stations and it was a mess, but by the last day each and every station was spotless and with the help of the chefs and this class we learnt how to organize what we need and how to keep it out of sight just as we would be required to do on the line at a restaurant.
Plates Produced in Modern Cuisine Class
Modern Cuisine was a slower moving class which was more of a thinking class rather than a fast-paced cooking class. In this class, we learnt about the different modern cooking methods Sous Vide in particular and we also learnt about the amount of behind the curtain work goes into packing the product into a bag and cooking it in water. The most important lesson that I gained out of this class was precision. A few degrees off or too much liquid in the vacuum packing bag and you had an impending disaster heading your way. We also learnt about the various food additives or hydro-colloids and we got the opportunity to play with a few of them. Some of the additives that we worked with were agar-agar, xanthan gum, gum-arabic, lecithin and a few others. The techniques that we picked up in this class were how to produce foams, espumas, gels, mats, spheres and caviar etc. In this regard precision was also of utmost importance as messing up the measurements of the additives could potentially change what you are going for. For our final, we had to use bouillabaisse which is a traditional Provencal stew originating in France and three of the above techniques that we had learnt.
Throughout the quarter I was also a part of the banquets team which was a class which was the Monday night dinner in the fine dining restaurant where we would serve up to 50 people from the public. This class ran for ten weeks and our theme for the class was the top ten famous cities in the world. We had three hours and would work as teams to bang out a five-course meal which would be cooked, held and served in a sequence. Banquets also helped us further our learning of organization but I think the most important lesson to take away from this class is to always be prepared. Due to the many obstacles that we may face during the cooking process running out of food should not be one of those. This is where portion control, knowing how much we have and how many people we are serving, and also having extra of everything just in case is important. This showed us the importance of planning, timing, organization and control.
Plates Produced at Temporis
Towards the end of the quarter, I also had the opportunity to stage at Temporis which is a tiny restaurant which serves a maximum of 25 people a night. They have an 11-12 course tasting menu along with wine pairings. The food that they produce focuses on modern cuisine, playing with modern ingredients and techniques to create an unforgettable eating experience. The restaurant is headed by Chef Donald Young and they have recently received their first Michelin star in September 2018. Something which intrigued me the most was how they grew their own herbs in small tufts and would cut out each tuft and place them on the tables and cut and serve them tableside. It was overall a memorable learning curve for me.
I would like to end with a quote from famous Chef Daniel Boulud which describes what is really important in a kitchen he says, “The kitchen should be designed around what is truly important- fun, food and life.”