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Live Fire Cooking Test

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi, I am in my 2nd term of culinary school. We will be having a live fire test in two weeks. During this next two weeks we have to make a menu, place product order, write recipes, do recipe analysis, make plate diagrams, do food costing, etc. We already had a breakfast live fire a month ago and everyone performed miserably!I have never worked in a restaurant and don't know which is easiest, fastest, holds best, etc.

We have four members on our team, we serve for 45 minutes and must serve 10 portions of each item. We are required to make a burre blanc (I'm planning on adding cream and reducing before adding the butter to stabilize the emulsion and holding it in a thermos), Mornay sauce (holding in a thermos) for a "Kentucky Hot brown sandwich", gallon of soup (held in soup warmer), mashed potatoes (held in crock pot), ground lamb kebabs to be grilled, couscous, green salad, grain salad, chicken curry, poached salmon, a vegetarian dish with sauce and side, and a pan sauce.

We also have some limitations. We don't actually have a line. We will be working in our class kitchen. It is equipped with a line of cook tops, ovens, a grill, a small (think counter top, home sized) deep fryer and two tables to set up for production. We put out food on a third table when the order is up.

So, I guess my questions are; Which items work best on the line? Are those the best ways to hold the sauces to keep them warm and from breaking? Is cold salmon with a burre blanc sauce a good idea? Is par cooking and then finishing in the oven or on the grill a good idea or will it lose quality? What are the best choices for the soup, salads, vegetarian dish, etc.? I want it to be fast, taste good and look good. What is the most efficient way to set up our tables for holding our prep and plating our food?

Thanks for any advise you can offer, I really appreciate it!
post #2 of 5
I hate to sound harsh, but this is a test for you. Which means that whatever you do, and however you are graded, you are supposed to learn from it. Your cooking facilities are your line, however they are configured and however limited they might be. A cook does not blame his/her environment for failure, only his/herself.

If you have not asked your chef-instructor these questions, whether because you think s/he won't answer them or can't answer them, or will tell you that that was already covered in class, that is the person you should be asking.

What did you team do so miserably the last time? Did you not know what/how to order to have what you needed? Were you not coordinated in your prepping, cooking, and plating? You should have learned from that experience. Think about what you did wrong and how you can do better this time.

When I was in school, the teams that planned well because they had listened in class, worked well as a team, and were flexible enough to handle anything that happened* were the ones that did well on these exercises.

*For example, when we did lunch for the whole school -- faculty, administration, and other classes -- and my team had more orders for something than we had prepped, we improvised with what we had that wasn't moving. It worked, even though I did have to dope-slap my team member who started wailing, "I'm out of slices of toast for the BLTs." :lol: (No, I didn't really hit him, though I wanted to; all I did was tell him to take cut pieces of toast from something else and make the sandwiches in two halves. :rolleyes:)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

This is part of what I'm supposed to do

I am not cheating or whatever you are implying. I am a very strong planner, I listen in class, I have a 4.0 and I have never missed a day of school, so I am a little offended at your reply. I know what I am allowed to ask. The instructors told us to do research, go to vegetarian restaurants, look up recipes, ask questions, etc. Which is what I'm trying to do here.

When I say we did miserably, I mean the whole class, not just my group. We did so because they didn't tell us how to do anything. We were set us up for failure so we could learn from it, which I did, which is why I'm asking all these questions. They didn’t even grade us for it, because they knew we would not do well. As I stated, I have never worked in a restaurant on a line, so I have no idea how it works. I was hoping someone that has line experience could share ideas. I wrote my ideas (that I figured out on my own from research) to see if they are valid.

We did not run out of food, we planned well, but none of us in my group had ever worked at a restaurant so our hollandaise got cold because we didn’t want it to break, hence my thermos idea. We didn’t know how a line should be set up, so it wasn’t as efficient as it could be…We were complimented on our communication and ideas.

So, if anyone out there has any experience they would be willing to share, I would appreciate it. If you just want to tell me I am incompetent, you don’t need to bother answering.
post #4 of 5
Your thermos idea for sauces should work out fine. In my opinion, any time that you par cook, you lose quality;not necessarily a lot of quality (depending upon item, methods, time,etc.), but some. At times, the benefit to par cooking, an example being if it insures better customer satisfaction due to increased speed of production, offset the detriment of decreased quality. Making life easier for the kitchen is not a good parameter. As to your other questions, I could easily provide input; but I feel that you will learn much more if you spend time really thinking them through. Good luck and good cooking!
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #5 of 5
OK I'll provide a little bit.

You have four people. Split the work between saute, grill, pantry, and plating.
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