Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sorry for the delay!

I know I haven't written on the blog for quite some time now but here are some links to keep you satisfied until the next post:
http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/blog/culinary-school/dining-italy/ is an article I wrote about what I have learned in Italy.
http://www.reluctantgourmet.com/greg_cerretani.htm is an interview I did for Reluctant Gourmet, who sponsored the Culinary Grant that I won through Chefs4Students.org

I have a few more articles in the works for the Reluctant Gourmet blog and will be posting links as the articles are posted.  Huge thanks to RG for this amazing chance to share my stories with his readers!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May Day in Colle and a little reflection.

There are certainties in the life of a cook.  You will get cut, you will get burned, you will work crazy hours, and you will work the holidays that everyone else has off.  Today is May Day, the laborers holiday in Italy.  Everyone, with the exception of the restaurant workers, started the day with a parade through town and spent the day in the parks or by the river having grilled meat and wine.  The old men are playing bocce and the old women are sitting in the shade as the children play in the empty streets.  I heard all of this through the open kitchen door as I worked through the day.  We are prepping for all the people who will come for dinner after spending the day celebrating not working who don't have the energy to cook for themselves.  I spent the day cleaning artichokes, baking bread, butchering meat and preparing sauces.  I have been cut, I have been burned, and I feel like I live in this kitchen today.  There is a part of me that wishes I could have dropped my apron and joined that parade that passed the restaurant this morning.  I would have loved to spend the day eating BBQ, drinking wine, playing bocce with the old men or soccer in the streets with the kids.
But, I made my choice.  I am a cook.  I turn ingredients into meals.  I create art with food.

I love being a cook.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pictures from Officina della Cucina Popolare

Jimi watching over the Biscotti

More Jimi and biscotti

Biscotti before the second baking

Creme Brulee


Getting ready for family meal

Tried to catch the etching on the water bottle

Makes me giggle

Cured meats

Some good cheese, Arsineo would be pumped!

Storage room

Taking a quick break in the back alley

Double exposure, complete accident

More fine cheeses for Arsenio!

A load of tripe, seriously

Stuffed Lamb

Peposa and Tripe

Due ordinare de Pesca

Due ordinare de Millefolgie

Sformatino di Pecorino con pere e miele
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 25, 2011

Week three report

1)      List the Chain of Command (name and title) for your operation and the role of each person.
My restaurant consists of two teams.  Matteo, one of the Head Chefs, works with a cook named Mara and a dishwasher named Djambal.  This team covers every shift from Thursday dinner until Sunday dinner.  The other team consists of Niccola, the other Head Chef, who works with a cook named Rita and a dishwasher named Filomena.  This team every shift from Monday lunch until Thursday lunch.  Matteo and Niccola oversee the prep lists and prepare the main dishes while overseeing the production of the whole kitchen during service.  Mara and Rita maintain the prep for their station and prepare the antipasto and dessert courses during service.  Djambal and Filomena assist in prep, wash dishes and pans, prep ingredients during service as needed and can jump on to assist any station during service. The bottom rung of the chain of command is myself and another culinary extern named Mattia.  We prepare ingredients before service and jump between whichever station is the busiest or assist in preparing ingredients that we may run out of during service.
2)      Interview the Executive Chef, General Manager, or your immediate supervisor to discuss and record the career path they took to obtain the positions they now hold.
My direct supervisor, Matteo, always knew he wanted to be a Chef.  He worked in his family’s restaurant as a young man and later attended university for 5 years to receive his diploma.  After university he was offered a job as Sous Chef in an Italian style restaurant in Australia.   He was working 60-70 hours a week for about six hundred Australian dollars a week.  When he asked for a raise they told him he didn’t speak English well enough to warrant a raise so he went to work in another Italian style restaurant that was opening in Australia.  After his study visa ran out he returned home to Italy and open Officina with three other friends and currently teaches cooking classes in what little spare time he has.
3)      Describe one operational problem you encountered on the job this week (food shortage, staff shortage, equipment failure, etc.) and how you handled it.
One problem that we had this week was that the faucet on one of our kitchen sinks came loose and started to spray water all over the kitchen anytime we tried to use it.  This meant that anytime we needed to add water to a dish we had to go to the dish sink and push the dishwasher out of the way.  This made for heavy traffic down the production line and made things really difficult in our very, very small kitchen.  I was able to remedy this problem as my uncle Kevin was a plumber and when I was younger I would assist him and helped him to install a new sink in our apartment.  I realized very quickly that the problem was a loose washer so I made a temporary fix with some plastic wrap and was able to make the sink function properly and according to my chef, “saved the day.”
4)      JOURNAL: In one paragraph, please reflect upon your externship experience for the week.  Successes? Challenges? Failures?
This week I felt like I really hit my stride in the kitchen.  I was asked if I could assist one of the chefs in butchering whole lambs as Easter is one of the busiest weekends for my restaurant.  My chef was so impressed with my butchery that he told me that from now on I would be in charge of any and all butchery.  When I strayed slightly from the method I had been shown I apologized profusely and said that I would be sure to follow the existing method and my Chef asked me to show him what I had done differently and to explain why.  After I showed him what I had done and why I had explained my reasoning for doing so he told me that from that moment on he wanted all the butchery done that way as it was more pleasing to the eye and created less waste.  I also impressed my other Chef with my dough making skills so I have been in charge of making the house bread every day.  I felt that my greatest success was translate the handwritten tickets from Italian to English and being able to foresee what would be needed and handing someone the necessary tool or ingredient before they could even ask for it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pictures from my first day in Colle

High Security on the way to work

Posted by Picasa

Officina della Cucina Popolare

My Chef Matteo and Mara, one of the other cooks.

A little something cooking away on the grill.

Ragu, I wish you could smell this picture

What happens when you show up on your day off!

My little station.

Espresso Creme Brulee

The New Patio

The view from the other side of the street

Sunset through the Porto Nova

Showing one of my chefs some love.

Nicolla and pasta fresca


Rita shaping some dough

Posted by Picasa