Not for the Faint-Hearted
*Note: gruesome pictures ahead*
I’ve never really been the squeamish type of person when it comes to dealing with meat or poultry in the kitchen, I always just got on with it and was a bit indifferent to it… Or so I thought… Cordon Bleu took it to a whole other level! And there was no easing into it, no sir. As the womanizing man-child chef told us on orientation, (remember him? From my first post – yep! That’s the one), “ We have to make you chefs in 12 months, and that’s not an easy task.”
One day, only a few practicals into our first term, we walked into the demonstration room to see this:
That’s right, we had to learn how to butcher an entire lamb, and we were marked on how much flesh was left behind on the bone.
And that was just the beginning - By the end of the course we had done and seen it all. Nothing could make us twitch anymore, we were unaffected to a point where we were posting pictures like the ones below on our Facebook profiles, genuinely thinking it was completely normal, and were shocked when our friends would ask us why we’ve become so morbid!
Can you blame us?! When we’re sitting in class during a demonstration and chef passes this around so we can get a better look:
That was our life for a year and we were in such a bubble we didn’t know which way was up anymore! We had ourselves elbow deep in fish guts; learned how to pound the backbone of carcasses with our cleavers to make our sauces; how to use pliers to yank out the tendons in duck legs to stop them from going tough after they’ve been cooked (one of mine went flying onto the “OCD” chef’s hat without him noticing – no I didn’t mention it to him, and yes I hope he isn’t reading this); how to jerk the intestine out of crayfish BEFORE we killed them in a pot of boiling water (crayfish still remain my least favorite, such feisty little creatures!); how to make any animal into a mousse (they loved making us do this, and I still think it’s something that should never be done to any animal. Ever. But oh, it tastes so, so good – pulverize the meat in a robocoop, force it through a drum sieve, add a touch of cream, seasoning and poach it); and finally, we got ever so used to saying and hearing statements like these: “Where did my duck carcass go?”, “Can I borrow your chicken liver?”, “I’ll de-gut your fish if you yank out my crayfish’s intestines”, “Can I boil my lobster with yours?”, “lets compare scars!”, “how much flesh got left on the cheekbones of your monkfish?”. I could go on and on. Like I said. We were immune. Completely and utterly unaffected – which, if directed towards humans, could get you diagnosed as a psychopath with major personality disorder.
You would think Pastry would be much better and more peaceful, wouldn’t you? Yea that’s what we thought too. Our maybe-ex-convict chef with the prison tattoos taught us to believe that our pastries have feelings (just what we needed). He used to talk to his puff pastry and sugar dough during demos - sometimes with love, and sometimes with passion – depending on what they needed at the time. He also used to tell us that our chocolate isn’t stupid, and won’t be taken as a fool or be “tricked” into being tempered. And still, to this day, I find myself talking to my food in the kitchen, remembering to temper my chocolate with passion, roll out my pastry with love, whip my cream with excitement, pipe my designs with firmness and never to rush my desserts into leaving their moulds - They will do so themselves, when they're good and ready.
I’ll be honest, a lot of the time we felt like this:
Exactly like that.
Like we had our heads up a turkey’s… you know what… Like headless chickens running around the kitchen, some practicals in particular were absolute madness, just complete and utter chaos!
Fake it till you make it right?!
And that, foodies, is exactly what we did!
Until next time, and as always, thanks for reading! xo