Cooking with Jason

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Let's get it started

Classes start up, for real, tomorrow. They put us through two days of orientation and registration which easily could have been combined into one day (if not one morning), but hey, I'm not complaining. On the schedule for tomorrow are Intro to Management, Menu Development, and Restaurant Law. Of the three--of all five classes, for that matter--I'm most looking forward to Menu Development. It could be a total dud, of course, but the course material looks the most promising.

After returning from externship, the general rule is that if you had AM classes before you left, you'll have PM classes when you get back. There was a group of us who wanted to switch from PM to AM this time around, but more requests than spaces. Here's a big thank you to John "The Man" Kliefgen, who gave up his AM spot for me. It appears that things will work out and that he'll be able to join us in AM after this block (once we're back in the kitchen), but I appreciate it nonetheless.

Chef Vanoli, who I had for Skills I and II, told us back in the day that he was going to give teaching at the CIA a try for a year before deciding if it was for him. I talked to him today, and he's decided to give it another year. That's good for everyone--he's a very good instructor with a lot to offer. If the CIA is smart, they'll get him over to Caterina post-haste, where his wealth of knowledge of all things Italian would be put to the best use.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Another Pleasant Valley Monday

(Apologies to the Monkeys.)

I arrived back in the Hudson Valley on Sunday afternoon, after four really long days of driving followed by a relaxing day and a half in East Hampton, NY (thanks to Allison and Shane for the invite). The Hamptons are kind of like spring break, except for adults. New York is hot and humid, while it's raining in Seattle. You can probably guess where I'd rather be.

Anyway, classes start up tomorrow. Well, registration at least. I don't think we'll have much in the way of actual classes. It'll be good to see everyone and hear how their externships went.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Anyone out there?

Tonight, Sunday night the 14th, was the last night of my externship at Canlis (though I'll be at the restaurant on Monday; details later). Overall, I had a great last night. First, I led the 2pm hot line meeting. Later, Chef Aaron invited me to the pre-service front of the house meeting, where he told the assembled staff that I was the most advanced student they'd ever had, that I'd been an integral part of the kitchen the past five months, that he wished I wasn't leaving, and that I should keep them in mind for employment after graduation. He then presented me with a copy of the menu, signed by many of the staff, as well as an All Clad one quart saucepot because, in his words, I am "master of butter sauces."

During service, I was in the dining room working as the expiditor, wiping plates as they came off the broiler, adding final garnishes, organizing the plates for the servers, and working as the point of contact between the front and the back. This was quite an honor; in all the time I've been at Canlis, I've only ever seen Aaron fill this role.

Tomorrow, as mentioned above, I'll be back, but in an entirely different capacity. I have the opportunity to shadow Canlis General Manager Chris Heldridge as he goes about his day as GM. This will including "working the floor" with him when the restaurant opens for dinner, so I'll be all dressed up in a suit. If you're in the neighborhood (and properly attired, of course), stop by and sit in the lounge for a drink and perhaps an order of truffle fries.

I'm about a week out from leaving Seattle for the Hudson Valley, my third trip between zip codes 98116 and 12569 in roughly a year. I hope the car is up for it.

In case you were wondering, yes, I did finish all my homework. Thanks for asking. I'll post some of the more interesting modules in the next week or so.