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Old 11-23-2006, 02:01 PM   #1
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Method of work

i just started a chef training course in collage, and i love it, but im having a bit of trouble with the menu's we have to do for homework, we are giving 2 to 3 starters, main and dessert's and what they want us to do is, put them in order as to what we will start with (prep, cooking etc,etc..) up until finish. They want this doing before the class, which from a person starting off is pretty hard to know with want comes first and second, it would be easy to do after the class. Does anyone have any tips that could help me.

Thanks.

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Old 11-23-2006, 02:28 PM   #2
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- It depends on your starters, depends on how long the cooking and prep is. In ordr to give you an advise you should tell us what the starters are. Good luck.
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Old 11-23-2006, 02:36 PM   #3
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You have to consider how long things take to cook, howe long the prep work takes, scheduling different dishes in the oven, etc.

For example, can something be started in the oven while you do the prep for another dish? Lots pf recipes have dead time in the middle somewhere. between the prep and the finish there is unattended simmer or bakeing time. Use that to work on other dishes.

The starters have to be ready first and the desserts last. Can the main and the desserts be finishing up while the starters are being served?
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Old 11-23-2006, 05:09 PM   #4
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As Andy said, they are trying to teach you to organize your approach to a menu. In cooking, timing is critical.

Cooks, or chefs, have to know exactly when to start cooking a certain item.

I sure don't want my chocolate souffle sitting on the counter getting cold while a cook is assembling my Caesar salad starter.

With that will come the concept of mise en place, a French term that I never pronounce correctly (or almost any other French word for that matter). It means having all the ingredients prepared before you start cooking (if I am not exactly correct, someone will come along and let us know about it).

Cooking a meal is more than just food knowledge and technique, you also need to know how to manage the cooking and the kitchen.

Sounds like your college course is challanging you. Good for them.

Being challanged is the only way a hard head like me has learned anything.

Hang in there, ask questions, and don't give up. Some of the classes I thought were impossible were the ones I learned the most in.

Keep coming by, it is good to have you here.

We older folk need some young input.
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Old 11-26-2006, 02:56 AM   #5
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Sn0wball - first off, one thing to understand is that, unless you are cheffing as a 1 person operation (say, your own tiny restaurant), no one chef would usually be doing all these things by him or her self. that said, any chef should have no trouble doing so.

when you come onto a shift, you start prepping. generally, whatever takes longest comes first, something like a brown sauce for example. on the other hand, you have to balance this against what can be finished ahead of time and what has to be freshly prepared at the last moment. for example, if your dessert were a choc. mousse, you'd get this done as one of the first things, as it has to be well set before serving whereas for a choc. souffle, as auntdot mentioned, would be popped in the oven a bit before the wait person cleared the plates. even then, though, you might be able to have part of it prepped so that you only need to beat and fold in the whites.

not knowing anything about your menu, a "typical" chef's prep in a "typical" kitchen might go something along these lines:

- get to work on on what has to be finished before it can be used, for example sauces,soups, clarified butter, rice, most desserts, etc. priortize these by doing what takes the longest first.
- next, do the items that can be prepped all the way to the point just before cooking. some examples would include stuffed items that would later be sauteed, baked or broiled.
- lastly, prep all the individual ingredients you will need, again balancing what will take the longest against what has to be done just before using. typically, these will include your diced onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, minced parsley, pre-portioned items, garnishes, etc. these will go into your bain marie or chilled inserts.

when to start what often depends on good communication with the wait person. for example, if something is going to need 15 minutes in the oven just before serving, you need to let the waiter or waitress know. some tables are fast and some slow (eaters, that is), and they'll let you know when a table is half way or nearly done and it's ok to fire something up. in large kitchens, they'll communicate with the expediter, who will then just bark out orders.

while i hope this helps you out a little bit, it essentially is a hands-on learning experience that pretty much also entails learning from your mistakes. you wouldn't become much off an athlete just from reading, and cheffing is no different. blowing things and being nervous when you're learning is a given. i laugh every time i remember my first time on a line and i got all of 4 orders at one time. i was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, so the head chef stepped behind the line to back me up. lol try to relax.
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Old 11-27-2006, 07:58 AM   #6
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This is all brilliant advice but the main thing is that you are actually learning something new. You don't know what you don't know. you can't be expected to know everything straight away. The idea is to make you think and organise yourself appropriately. Mise en place is at the backbone of every successful kitchen in the world. You are in the best place at college to learn all you need, don't be scared of getting things wrong people that don't make mistakes never learn anything.
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Old 11-30-2006, 05:01 PM   #7
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Sorry for the late reply, a good bit of work had to be done. Thanks for everyone's input, its making sense now, CharlieD here is a menu we have to do next week:

Greek Salad
Lamb kleftiko with baby boiled potatoes
Pita Bread

PS: I'm glad i found this wonderful forum
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Old 11-30-2006, 07:20 PM   #8
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SnOwball, I am impresed. There are many approaches to a Greek salad and lamb kleftico and I can only suppose your teachers are asking you to come up with one you would want to make. And figure out how to execute the recipes.

Sounds like they are tossing you into the pool to make you learn to swim.

In other words, they are puting you into a real life situation, with many approaches and nuances, knowing that you will have to struggle, and struggle hard. And often it will seem like you have been given an impossible task.

Don't lose heart, you may become frustrated, but don't lose heart.

If you could handle this with ease there would be no reason for your being there. You would be teaching it or doing it.

Have been in similar situations having nothing to go with cooking, as I am certainly not a professional chef, or even near that category, but it was in those circumstances I learned the most I ever have.

Work as hard as you can and accept your defeats graciously, there will be many. But from them you will learn the most.

Keep at it and before long you will be telling me how to cook on this forum.

I hope so because, believe me, I need the help. God bless and remember you have only friends here.
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Old 12-02-2006, 07:52 AM   #9
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well snowball, the temptation to tell you how i'd go about it is strong, but to do so would be to do you a disservice.

maybe pointing you in the general direction would be ok.

as a chef, you'll want to make the recipe your own, without straying so far from tradition that it becomes unrecognizable. i'd suggest that you research a bunch of the lamb klefito recipe variations to build up a general idea of the key ingredients and how it's cooked. then sit down and consider how you like your food. also consider that if you choose quality ingredients, it's pretty hard to go wrong by letting their natural flavors shine through without trying to get too fancy. just as a single example, instead of using a can of cheap pitted black california olives for the salad, a lesser amount of kalamata olives might be nicer. it's also generally nice to have at least one item that is a well executed absolutely traditional approach, while the others each have one small point that make them stand out.

lastly, don't forget the visual presentation.


enough said i think. best of luck
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Old 12-02-2006, 09:30 AM   #10
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SnOwball, like philso I am tempted to help you but I know I shouldn't. All I can say is that most traditional Greek main dishes are pretty laborious and time consuming. So work it from there. Good luck to your project!
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