When you cook for yourself or friends, it's one thing. But when you serve the general public, it's a completely different ball game: your food must be properly cooked, well-seasoned, on time and impeccably plated.
My classmate and I recently started worked in the French Culinary Institute's restaurant, L'Ecole. We hope we're ready.
I'm glad to have started off in the pastry rotation. The pace doesn't seem as frightening as we concentrated on making red-wine poached pear desserts and trios of pot de creme (espresso, chocolate and dulce de leche). We've had to stay later in the kitchen than other students, but I figure we can ease our way into the other stations and learn from our classmates.
The "real kitchen" environment isn't that different from the class because our chefs are very open to answering questions and correct any mistakes. That said, there's still a twinge of pressure hanging over your head as you wonder if the pears are poached properly or if you're going to overcook the custard.
All the pressure forces you to focus more. The chefs expect more out of you and the months we've spent learning how to recognize when a sauce reaches a right consistency and honing our knife skills pays off.
It's a Friday night service today, so I expect business to pick up. Are we ready? I think so. I'll be giving you more dispatches from L'Ecole in the coming months.