Today was the first day I did not enjoy class. Everyone, everything was off. Classmates were cranky, four people burned themselves (one severely), and the atmosphere was full of tension.
Coq au vin (braising)
Rice pilaf (pilaf technique)
Grilled vegetable stack (grilling)
Caesar salad in parmesan cups (plating techniques)
Chef asked our group to make dinner for all of the chefs teaching this afternoon. We made two pots of coq au vin, and I was assigned to make the one for the chefs - quite an honor and quite a lot of pressure; I had never made it before.
As usual, our biggest challenge this week was people management. I prefer to huddle with the group, read the recipes together, and then divide the ingredients, mise and tasks. Instead, Cool Girl grabs a recipe and goes to the walk-in for a few carrots, maybe an onion, brings them to our station, and goes back for herbs, brings them back and then leaves again for celery. I know she's trying to be helpful, but her lack of organization slows us down; and her lack of basic cooking skills puts us behind every week.
Cool Girl is taking our class as a requirement for another hospitality major, from another school. She hasn't taken food and bev. management, food safety or baking I (all prerequisites for our class), and as our menus become more complicated, she falls further behind, pulling us down with her.
I have a passion for teaching, but I'm also trying to learn. Having to stop to show Cool Girl how to dice an onion for the fifth time is robbing the rest of our group of much needed practice with knife skills and perfecting the basics.
Our group, minus Cool Girl, had an impromptu meeting in the dish room, full of whispers and half finished sentences. None of us had to complete our thoughts out loud - we were all thinking the same thing: Cool Girl has to step up her game or get out of our group.
Ironically, at the end of class, Cool Girl had a temper tantrum in front of Chef, berating him for her lack of organization and inability to learn the material every week, "You give us so much information, I never know what to study." Then she threw me under the bus, calling me a kiss-up for my knowledge of cooking. Me, the person who patiently took the time to show her how to dice a onion (among other things) every week, every which way.
After she left, Quiet Guy and I gave a nod - we didn't need to speak a word. And out it came, "Chef, she's holding us back..."
Chef warned us there could be major drama next week when he pulls her out of our group. I can't imagine there being any more drama than this week. I think I may bring some popcorn.
Oh, and the coq au vin. Chef said my coq au vin was excellent; Chef's assistant said it was the best he ever had. This was a huge relief and, I admit, I liked hearing it. It's not often we receive accolades in class from Chef, so it's a big deal. And if Cool Girl thinks that pushing yourself to do your absolute best, practicing, studying night and day, and learning as much as possible makes someone a kiss-up, I'll be bringing some strawberry lip-gloss to class next week.