When I started skills three once again here at the Culinary Institute of America, I expected it to be just like it was the month prior, before I tore that muscle in my back. Chef Garnero’s skills class was fun, organised, and it really brought the enjoyment of cooking out of me. So when I found out that I would be resuming class with Chef Coyac, a hard nosed, no nonsense chef of the old school in France, I literally had a heart attack. This chef wasn’t what I was expecting, and on day one, I found out the hard way.

Chef Coyac hails from Provincal, France, so you can assume that English doesn’t come naturally. The man used to be the private chef for the Commadore of the French Navy. He looked every bit of it on the first day. We started an hour early, in a poorly lit dish room, water all over the floor, down the hall from our actual kitchen. Chef crowded us in that room and told us what he expected of us. Unfortunately, his accent is so thick that I haven’t a clue as to what he is actually saying. Each glance from him sends shivers down my titanium spine. I dare not ask for clarification, I just make sure I’m extra prepared.

The kitchen is a whole new experience. Chef is extremely demanding, everything must be done exactly his way, no excuses. On our first day in that kitchen, we made the traditional roast chicken with pan gravy. Unknown to my team our thermometer was 9 degrees off. So as well pulled out a tray of gorgeous trussed hens, and each one temped out at 165, chef looked at each one, inspecting with great detail. He then physically took my chef’s knife out of my hand, slice open each thigh, and let the river of partially coagulating blood wash out onto the roasting pan. I’m �grateful that I couldn’t understand what he said next, only thing we could make out before he slammed the tray down on the table, was they ever perennial quote: “JESUS CHRIST!”.

Needless to say, chef then docked our team 15 points. The worst moment came, a few days later, when we served chicken fines herbes. Two teams each had 14 portions for service, yet one member of our team had accidentally hidden away three extra breasts. When chef’s call came down the line for how many portions remained, (keep in mind our kitchen is a dungeon, not a lot of customers) we responded with the one remaining, which he then called for the sale. We called 86′, then barely a moment went by before we discovered the remaining portions. We screamed to cancel the 86, to which chef stormed down the line from his roost, vulgarities flying at us fast and untranslatable. He called us stupid, jerks, wastes of space, then to top it off, he docked the team 25 points. We protested, only costing us more. With another “JESUS CHRIST”, he moodily went back to the front. By the time I’m done with this class, I may be as grey as him.