Just when you start to get frustrated and make silly mistakes (and secretly fear that you might actually be rubbish in the kitchen after all), the gods of chef school will have a change of heart, and decide to rain some good karma down upon you.
Chefette can happily say that she had just such an experience this past week. Couldn't quite get it together on a few days the previous week, and last Monday didn't start too auspiciously (late into class, overcooked bird, too much beurre manie whisked into gravy). But then came the good news about the work placement on Monday night, followed by a respectable performance on the practice exam.
And then best of all was our Buffet party on Wednesday. Went really swimmingly. Everyone in class cooked well together and enjoyed themselves. The positive vibe in the room was palpable, and our station was 'in the zone'.
Our team leader was the Frenchman, one of the most organised and efficient students in our class. The other girl on our team (let's call her Scooter) is one of those people who can get really creative under pressure. As for me, since I'd done a practice run of the dish the previous Sunday, I knew the recipe pretty well. So even though we had one of the busiest stations -- a Thai noodle salad with chicken that had lots of different elements to assemble -- and the fourth member of the team was stuck at home sick, we coped really well. Everyone loved our dish, and every last morsel either got eaten or taken home as leftovers. Felt really proud, and really enjoyed cooking with Scooter and the Frenchman.
(By the way, a good discovery from Scooter to share with foodies. If you are ever short on a number of limes or lemons for a given quantity of juice, you can stretch the quantity. Simply scrape as much as possible out of the pulp of the squeezed limes, put it into water to soak for an hour with some of the zest, and then sieve it. The resulting liquor is less concentrated than the straight juice, but it is still zingy enough to stretch it out.)
Thursday was a very relaxing session in the kitchen, with a fairly low-key programme of moules marinieres (delicious!) and pavlova (which I'd never tasted before, and loved). Then today, we all finished the week by decorating our Christmas cakes -- while the teachers served us mince pies, chocolates and tea and coffee. Everyone's cakes will be judged next Monday after the Theory Exam in a little competition. I promise to try to remember to take a picture of the cakes, some of them are really creative.
Anyway, I'll post again after the exams are over. Plenty of studying and practice cooking this weekend (a not-so-exciting exam menu of Vichysoisse, Family Beef Stew with carrot batons, and Lemon Meringue Pie).