The Cooking Table

For weeks, Chef had us cooking in pairs, then he went and messed with a good thing, asking us to cook in groups of 4, which typically means “cook for your entire table.” While this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it’s usually a recipe for a logistic and cooking disaster.

I’m the PITA know-it-all of our group; or at least that’s what I believe my usual cooking partner, K, thinks of me. I don’t know everything, and I don’t walk around acting like I know everything, but when my partner makes a mistake on a basic technique (like today when he didn’t know how to make a tart or Picatta sauce), I definitely throw some attitude his way. It’s frustrating.

Then there is J, my partner from last semester. He’s smart and a great cook when he applies himself. But he’s always off socializing with other people in the room, and waits until the last minute to start his recipe. Then we’re all rushing around trying to plate, serve, clean.

The other part of our quartet is M — she is the sweetest, most wonderful, caring woman you could ever know. Her English is broken and terrible, and she spends most of class behind her camera documenting what we’re cooking, rather than concentrating on what she is supposed to be cooking. She produces the most amazing how-to cook books at the end of every semester; books that would make any cookbook giant envious. But, she can’t cook. Period. Her sauces are never quite right. Her potatoes are always overcooked. Her proteins are usually ruined. She tries hard, but just can’t quite get it right.

When we all get together to cook, it’s a mess. I’m striving for perfection at this stage; I know my sauces, I know my basics, I know my cuts. For the most part, I can take Chef’s directions and begin cooking right away. But K, J and M need a lot of hand holding. Sometimes, I just want to cook and perfect. I don’t want to walk three people, who should know the basics by now, through recipes.

Today we were thankfully back to teams of two, which was much more manageable. I only had to hold one hand.

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