Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I have had this post in my draft bank for a while now, and talking to Chef Reilly the other day made me remember it. My previous class--Modern Banquets was a fun class thanks in part to Chef Reilly (see Tighten Up! and Laugh It Up, Jabroni for more on the class and Chef Reilly). Every chef I've had the pleasure to learn from here at the CIA has approached the class with their own unique flare.
Speckamp was our first chef and resembled that tough father figure you spend your whole life trying to impress because he graded so hard (my friends and I have a running joke called the "Speckamp 85" its a perfect score since he didn't give out 100s. "Hmmm good consistency, good flavor, its seasoned properly, its hot, overall its perfect...85!). Chef Brash aka Freddy B aka "Steve Jobs" (they are twins I swear) was the passionate and energetic Uncle because he showed a love for produce that I've never seen before. "Now chefs chefs chefs, chefs of the future! (petting a head of Chinese cabbage ever so gently) Why as chefs do we love to use this cabbage on our menus!" Chef Elia was the blue collar brother-in law because he is one of the few remaining butchers in the world so we learned a lot from him on not only how to breakdown meat carcasses but to use the most profitable cuts of meat. His passion for sausage making is something to be admired. Chef Clark is by far the grumpy grandfather. I say that with a smile on my face because I can recall his numerous rants in class about why Ford is better than Toyota (he bleeds red, white, and blue). Chef Reilly was like a brother figure. Always trying to mess with you but at the same time showed a side of protection and compassion you only get from a brother or immediate family member. We even got to play basketball with him, it was a blast (mainly because we got to see him go from all high and mighty to huffing and puffing on the court). Chef Kief is the nagging cousin. When you make a mistake during class he has a tenancy to never let it go. In his defense his class is the "boys from the men" type of class because it is a significant increase in difficulty from the classes we have had thus far.
My point is not to bash any of my previous chefs or make fun of them, my humorous observations come from the utmost respect for each one of them and what they do on a daily basis. It is merely a joke on how I depict them in this post and in no way reflects who they are as Chefs. With that being said, lets dive into what this post is actually about: the Continuing Education (CE) class Tim and I helped Chef Reilly with a few weeks back.
One day during Modern Banquets, Chef Reilly asked Tim and I if we would help him teach a group of people how to make basic recipes from our ProChef textbook. We both were more than happy to help...and get paid. The plan was for Tim and I to prep each teams stations and all of chef's demos while he went over the logistics of the course to the class of adults of all ages. Once each demo was completed each team of people had to prepare a dish and the class would taste all of them upon the completion of the course.
Now I must admit I made the mistake of thinking these people would be operating on the same level of culinary knowledge I have but was sorely mistaken. I was in charge of two groups, and Tim the other two. Immediately we both are bombarded with a barrage of questions such as "how do you chop garlic" or "how many tablespoons in a cup". Normally if one of my classmates asked me a question like that I would say "YOU DONT KNOW THAT??" but since its a group of strangers I had to put my approachable face on and hold their hands every step of the way (I joked to chef that I now know how he feels when teaching our class).
I sound bitter about it but it was actually fun to be able to show culinary novices some of the things I've learned in school (I mean I was a novice at one point so I can sympathize...to an extent). Things are frantic in the kitchen, people are asking me where certain utensils are so I had to find them in a kitchen I've never been in before. To make matters worse, Tim cut himself steeling his knife (he says he was bumped, but I like to give him a hard time about it) so I had to manage all the teams while chef was occupied until Timmy could get his thump bandaged up. One group of gentlemen were great. They asked few questions, followed the recipe and executed their dishes beautifully. Others couldn't follow a recipe so I had to read it for them. "The recipe calls for bread crumbs can I use these bread crumbs or do I have to make my own?" Things like that dominated most of my time...
Like any kitchen your going to have your strong teams and your weak ones. I couldn't help but laugh when a team of ladies who have never met started arguing with each other over a recipe. When the class concluded we all had buffet-style lunch in Farq. Tim and I sat with Chef Reilly (clearly trying to maintain his composure from the shit show we just witnessed). I asked him if any of the food they made was any good. "Lets put it this way" he said, looking me in the face. "If you served me any of that food I'd fail you from the class". The three of us laughed before he went off to issue the class a brand new CIA cookbook for which he signed for each customer. For someone who hates public interaction (his words not mine) he knew how to schmooze with the guests. When we were cleaning up he said we did a good job handling the class. I told him we were "mercenaries" as a joke. "Hired guns. Paid to kill! I like that" he replied, and we left for the day.
Overall it was a long day but somewhat fun in the end. Chef Reilly gave Tim and I an apron and I got to take home some pineapple and berries...which reminds me, they're still in my fridge *Opens refrigerator* "OH MY GOD!" *Vomits* *Passes out*