Friday, May 07, 2010

vegetables. people.

I wanted to throw in a bit on knife cuts (for culinary students) and triage. What we get at mid-terms and finals is some variant of the eight primary cuts and a couple of other, specialized cuts. Last night we were give 2 oz. each of large, medium, and small dice; batonnet, julienne, and fine julienne; brunoise and fine brunoise; some rondelles and four tourne potatoes. Aside from the potatoes, all the other cuts were from carrots. We were only given 15 minutes, including peeling, to get product on the table for grading. A few things have to happen if you’re going to make it. First, you need a plan for the order of cuts – don’t get into your medium dice before doing your julienne and smaller cuts. Second, you will have to sacrifice the 2 oz. portion of the outline if you’re going to have any chance of getting ten cuts on display. As long as you get a goodly stack of each on your tray – even if not 2 oz, particularly when you aren’t in a fundamentals class – you’ll be fine. You have to know your chef instructor and know that he’s simply going to finger through the piles briefly and give you a grade. Once you have everything in line, start rolling, don’t panic, get product out. Lots of students in my class don’t work the triage idea and either don’t do the planning, or are too focused on absolutely perfect fine brunoise; these are 1/16” squares cut from the carrots. (Tallying 2 full ounces of fine brunoise alone, in 15 minutes, is nearly impossible). One student spent so much time measuring her stack of julienne carrots that she only ended up with two cuts on the board – not a great score. I got all ten with my tourne potatoes ripped out in the final two minutes; I always hold them for last. She got 2/10, I got 9.5/10. Lots of others didn’t get through the cuts and that’s always a problem because the planning and managing of your is pretty important. Maybe they’ll learn. Maybe I just recognize it better because that type of prioritization comes fairly naturally to me.


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