Cooking with Jason

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Hell's Kitchen

Did anybody catch the debut of Hell's Kitchen last night? If you missed it, I'll fill you in: It's basically The Apprentice meets Simon from American Idol set in a kitchen, with the premise being that chef Gordon Ramsay is a complete jackass and nobody can do anything to please him. I'll preface this by saying I'm by no means a reality TV fan -- I pretty much hate the genre, in fact. But set something in a kitchen and I'll be hard-pressed to turn away (I never did get into The Restaurant, mostly because of a work schedule conflict). I really enjoyed Jamie's Kitchen on Food Network, for example.

I don't know what he possibly expected, opening a restaurant with only hours to prepare and featuring a staff who was, largely, without kitchen experience. I know, I know, it wouldn't have been a show otherwise.

Anyway, check it out next week if you've got nothing going: 9pm Monday on FOX. Maybe I'll open up a thread for comments and we'll see if there's any interest out there.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Best day yet

But first, I have to admit that I didn't attend either event last Tuesday. Instead I went to bed at 10pm in anticipation of a big week at school. And the sleep was much needed.

Thursday was my best day so far as a CIA student. In my first class, I aced a food safety quiz. Second class, 29 out of 30 on a gastronomy quiz. Now, that's a good score and all, but... it was the first point I'd missed at school. Yeah, I know, I wasn't expecting to go four years and not miss a single point. It was still a minor letdown, though. Anyway, after the quiz my group of four gave a presentation on M.F.K. Fisher. I was concerned we didn't have enough material to fill 20 minutes, so I guess I over-prepared -- I only got through about half my prepared notes before my group told me to wrap it up or we'd go over our time. In any event, I feel really good about my part.

The next, and perhaps coolest, part of the day was picking up my uniforms. Ten hats (toques), five jackets with "Jason Barker B.P.S" on 'em, five pairs of checked pants, three dress shirts, two pairs of black pants, a tie and vest for table service, four aprons (two four-ply for the kitchen, two long for service) and two side towels. In a way they're teasing us, though, giving us these uniforms but making us wait three more weeks before we're in the kitchen. We're allowed to wear our uniforms to class now instead of dressing up, but I'm going to wait. The classroom is the classroom, the kitchen is the kitchen, and never the twain shall meet.

After all that, I was rewarded with four days off (Friday being a day between blocks, Monday being Memorial Day). Friday I went to Cooperstown; there's a post about this on the USS Mariner if you're curious.

Today I made five gallons of chicken stock, and I must say, it's darned tasty. I went to Adams earlier in the week to ask if they might sell me 40# of bones and they said no problem, so I went back Saturday to pick 'em up. Imagine my surprise when he said the bones were free of charge -- I guess they don't have much use for them. Oh well, my gain. The stock's cooling now (I used nearly every container in the house) and I've got a remi going so I can make some pseudo glace, as described in the comments of this post.

I'm picking Carrie and Luke up at the airport (woohoo!) in six and a half hours, so I suppose I should get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Decisions, decisions

There's a wine tasting at school tonight: local winery (Long Island), six wines, free. What's not to like, right? That's what I thought until I got an email about a veal demo--full carcass breakdown! discussion! tasting!--happening at exactly the same time. Man, what's a culinary student to do? I think wine's going to win out, but it's a close call. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thanks, Sonics

I stayed up too late last night watching the Sonics, who rewarded me by losing to the Spurs. It was a good game for the most part, particularly the second quarter, but staying up for a sporting event here is a big investment and this time it didn't work out. The game started at 9:30pm, and by the time you factor in national TV coverage, I didn't get to bed until nearly 12:30am. No, I didn't put in the extra half hour or so it would have taken to see the M's lose yet again.

Did I mention my two quizzes today? I was so focused on studying for math last night that I completely missed the fact that I had a quiz in Product Knowledge as well. Ah well. They both went pretty well from what I can tell after the fact.

Things are definitely cranking up, school-wise. Two quizzes today, a project due Friday for Product Knowledge, and two for Gastronomy next week. Carrie and Luke leave for Seatte/Hawaii Saturday, so I'll have a week or so to focus on school and hopefully get ahead on things. I'm also planning my first trip to Cooperstown while they're gone.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Quick hit

I've got a few spare minutes while I wait for two videos to free up in the video library upstairs...

My plan with this blog is to post some sort of update each week. Ideally I'd like to post a shorter bit daily, after I get home from class and everything is fresh in my mind (as opposed to a big "week in review" sort of post), but I can't guarantee anything. I get home and there's Luke to watch, and even once he's down for a nap there's homework, so we may just be looking at weekend updates.

OK, gotta go check on those videos.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

He's alive!

...and blogging! Three days into school and things are going well. I've been taking notes (not class notes, mind you, though I've been doing that too) and will have a full report soon. Unfortunately, we won't have Internet access at home until Friday (long story finally coming to an end), at which point I'll be on here regularly.

Real quick, though, this is an amazing place for more reasons than I can get into right now... needless to say, I'm sure I'm in the right place. No doubt about it. I anticipate learning tons, working hard, getting my ass kicked almost daily, but having a wonderful time as well.

OK, homework time. More soon, most likely this weekend.

Oh, and for you "Making of a Chef" fans, I've already seen Corky Clark (fish kitchen), Michael Pardus (was Skills I in the book, now teaches Cuisine of Asia) and the legedary Chef Cheng, who reportely can break down a chicken with a cleaver in 16 seconds. President Tim Ryan seems like a great guy, too. Harold McGee, he of "On Food and Cooking," was on campus last week for a talk so I just missed him. Bummer. I'm sure he'll be back, though.