End of Breakfast and Meat Fab

Another summary of the week, because not much interesting has happened. The Breakfast and Meat Fabrication units are over. Last Thursday was our last buffet, and I was in the front of the house instead of in the kitchen. I had 3 tables of 8, which kept me pretty busy.

Friday, Monday, and Tuesday were all short days: Friday we cleaned the kitchen and took our Meat Fabrication test; Monday we took our Breakfast test and covered the syllabus for the next unit, Menu Production; and Tuesday was a team/group planning day for our first week of Menu Production.

The format of Menu Production is designed to reinforce (through use) skills we’ve already learned, and introduces an aspect of planning we haven’t had to deal with very much before: ensuring that everything we need to produce our menu is on hand. The class is broken into two teams; each team is broken into 3 groups, responsible for the bakery, pantry, and range. Each group rotates through the three functions over the course of the unit. Interestingly, my group happens to contain three of the four oldest people in the class, and I was surprised to learn that I wasn’t the oldest– the other two actually have me beat by a couple of years. (Not that this is a contest one especially wants to win, but then, it seems that being older ought to have some occasional value.) Our group is starting in Pantry. Each week, Chef distributes to each team a set of daily menus, and we decide within our groups who will be responsible for what items. Then the teams must determine what needs to be brought up from storage or ordered in. If an ingredient is overlooked and therefore not on hand when it is needed, tough. We are graded on planning and preparation as well as execution, and are to avoid helping one another. The end of the unit will feature, in addition to a written test, a cooking practical with surprise ingredients, no notes or recipes allowed. Should be interesting.

I liked both Breakfast and Meat Fab. Breakfast was interesting because it was my first experience in a production kitchen, and I think I did pretty well. I learned a lot in Meat Fab, but wish it could have been more in depth. I can now (clumsily) break down a side of beef into the primal cuts, and a few of the most useful retail cuts, especially in the rib and loin areas, but I’d like to know more about how to produce the many different retail cuts from the chuck, round, and sirloin areas.