Monday, May 24, 2010

Hors d’Oeuvres – Catering & Buffets, Week 1


Don’t get me wrong: I did enjoy both the ‘Food, History & Culture’ and ‘Nutrition’ classes. Dice and Ashlee were both fun instructors, and I’d definitely take courses taught by them again. The material was interesting enough, but what ticked me off is how some of the students were really disrespectful of them. Yeah yeah, I know, “we’re here to cook!” Whatever. We’re here to learn. But while I enjoyed these classes, I’m glad we’re finally back in the kitchen.

So here we are, in Chef Bruno’s Catering and Buffets class. I could tell within the first few days I’m going to love this class. We do work as teams, not individuals. I don’t have to stress about completing all elements of a single dish by myself. Instead, we work out as a team who’ll do which elements, and then we get to it, pulling everything together in the end for the final presentation.

The class is broken up into units, or sections, with each one building on an element or type of catering or buffet management until the final week, where we pull all these pieces together into The Grand Buffet. So this week we started out easy: hors d’oeuvres.

So here’s Chef Bruno demo’ing the Duck Breast Canapé. OMG, this was freakin’ delicious! The idea is to prep and sear a duck breast (drrooooooollllll!!!!!), then allow it to cool. Then we took a Pullman loaf and cut uniform squares, toasting them lightly. We supréme’d mandarin oranges, then sliced those wedges in half so we had a better-fitting piece of orange for the canapé. Finally we took some pistachios, soaked them for a while to loosen the skins, then shelled them. We chopped ‘em up nice and fine, then began the assembly.

The trick with hors d’oeuvres is symmetry and consistency: each piece should feel balanced not only visually, but in taste as well. For our team’s canapés, we made a delicious orange-rosemary butter to spread on our toasted croutons. We then placed an orange slice in one corner, some chopped pistachios in another, then a thin folded slice of seared duck breast in the middle. The result: freakin’ delicious.

Each week will get harder, with more items on the menu of greater complexity, requiring more prep and much better time management. The fun of it is the teamwork required. No one person will ever be responsible for one thing entirely, but we’ll each divvy up tasks and pull it all together for the final show. Once I have the pics from our final presentation (I forgot my camera that nite!), I’ll post the menu and the corresponding items.

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