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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Pleased to "Meat" You, Part I


    Yesterday was my first day of Meat Fabrication and it was a radical change from the more laid back approach adopted by our CMC Chef Speckamp. My new chef, Chef Elia implements a more militaristic teaching style, which was apparent right from the get go. After our class had failed to set up part of the meat room the way he wanted it for lecture we already were setting a poor first impression. It took all of 30 seconds for everyone in my class to display the wide-eyed "oh shit this guy is serious" look. Once we sat down, he asks in a calm but stern voice, "does anyone have a cellphone?" no one raises their hand. At this point where all scared shitless. I couldn't help but relive a scene  in my head from on of my favorite movies of all time: Inside man....


"I'll ask again, does ANYONE HAVE A CELL PHONE ON THEM RIGHT NOW??"slowly one or two brave souls raise their hand (mine included) and he holds out a bin to put them in, telling us we would get them back later. That was it. No penalty. We were safe. He looks up and smiles, "Now, does anyone ELSE have a cellphone?" (the whole class raises their hand) This is my first impression of Chef Elia.
    We get a tour of our meat class, and the surrounding meat room. Our MIT (manager in training), a short red-headed girl named Lena shows us the dish station and the walk-in coolers. Once we get back to the classroom, Chef dives into lecture. It is here where he starts to loosen up a bit, making a joke here an there, telling us about his catering gig, all the while explaining the ins an outs of the meat industry. A wave of relaxation wafts over me when I realize the man ain't so bad. Chef Elia never went to college, because he graduated from the "school of hard knocks". He lectures us on the importance of education since that lack of paper limits how far he can rise (to an extent) in his field. Elia comes off ultra intimidating only because he has an old school attitude. Everything he has he had to earn for himself, and the hard way. Once you start to understand the man behind the iron mask so to speak, you can see the much awesomer (no way that's a word), more passionate side of Chef. Blah, blah, blah you want pictures, I know I know...

     The first 4 days we are learning almost everything there is to learn about beef. This mega chunk is called the primal round. There are 4 major primal sections of the cow--round, lion, rib, chuck with 3 minor primal sections--plate, foreshank, and brisket. Each primal has sections called semi-primals (that's a for a later post). The primal round is basically the back leg of the animal...the ass check if you will.
Chef Elia breaking down the huge primal round


     When demo started he issued out our phones and encouraged everyone to take as many pictures as we wanted (while also remembering to pay attention). This was refreshing because in fundamentals I had to sneak pics of Chef Speckamp's demos (I'm very sneaky when I need to be. Ask my mom).
I believe this is the top round--a semi-primal cut from the big primal round Chef Elia broke down
The semi-primal cuts from the primal round: top round, bottom round, eye round, knuckle, heel, and shank
    I know you won't really understand what all these cuts of the animal are but IDing them also helps me study so the learning process goes both ways here.

    Alright that's all folks! Stay tuned for part II of my pleased to "Meat" You XIV part series

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