A new year is upon us! I ended 2008 the way many did, surrounded by the familiarity of holiday aromas, traditions, and faces. Most of my break was spent celebrating Christmas, but I was also privileged to be a bridesmaid in my dearest and oldest friend's wedding-Holly Baker or now rather, Holly Tracy.Holly has always been a loyal and caring friend. God must have known I would need a friend like this, because she has always been such a source of inspiration to me and others for that matter. It was a beautiful wedding, and Holly was a radiant bride. The whole affair was very touching and a great reminder of how life has seems to drift by without the realization of its precious nature until moments such as these present themselves.
Shortly after the wedding, I returned to Austin refreshed and ready for the new challenges culinary school so willingly offered. The "offering" this time, being the most feared block thus far in my education- Restaurant block ( and believe me, I am not the only student that shivers at the mention of these words!). Restaurant block is "scary" because it is the first advanced block of the program in which students are expected to know procedures, methods, and use thier creativity. In addition, being efficient is a must and skill and speed become a factor in grading. While I was excited to finally allow my creative juices to flow, the intimidation of having mounds of culinary knowledge memorized and prepared for execution at the request of a master chef was swimming in my conscience. But the first day came and went with some reassurance that it would not be the mountain most of us were expecting but rather a steep mole hill.
Our Chef for this block, Chef Michelle , has been in the industry since she was in her late teens. She has worked for famous chefs such as Tom Colicchio , a well known chef and judge on the show "Top Chef". She has also worked in Chicago, New York and many other American Destination cities. Despite, her impressive resume, Chef Michelle is a very sincere and laid back Chef with a passion for food and helping others develop the same level of expectations for their own food. We all were are thankful to have such an experienced and willing teacher.
As Monday and Tuesday passed we prepared for the first "plate up" or test of the class. This first plate up had to consist of an infused custard dish, paired with at least two garnishes and perhaps an ice cream or sorbet depending on your choice of custard. Chef Michelle told us that this first test would allow her to see the level of sophistication our palates had and our creativity. I was shamelessly excited to prove myself worthy of the term "creative". For my dish I decided to create a refreshing combination of lemon mint infused Creme Brulee paired with a blueberry compote, some candied lemon zest, and finished with a honey tuile cookie. My dish turned out to be a strong one and Chef said I was very successful for my first plate up and had a good flavor combination! I was thrilled to do so well, and look forward to our next challenge - Chocolate Plate up!
So, with the first school week over, I have found that this year, 2009 has a lot of promise to it. I'm now down to 17 more weeks of classes and then I begin my externship where ever that may be! I have already started my search and have some good leads, but my hope is that my externship will be both an great experience as a chef and as a student of life. Please keep me in your prayers as I search for such an opportunity and to those of you that follow this blog I wish you a promising new year as well!