Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More Market Basket

Well we made it to the Western Market Basket Finals too, but we lost in the final round of both Asian and Western competitions. Gotta be happy with what we got, though for a moment there I really thought we were going to win the Western Cuisine competition when the chefs named our Meunière of Lapu-lapu (grouper) and Crab-Meat Mousseline with Leek Creme a favorite.

Both championship rounds were black box, of course: as in the ‘Iron Chef’ TV shows, specific ingredients available for the competitors' use were a mystery to until the match began. In addition, a "black box" containing mandatory ingredients was a huge factor. Not only were you required to use the black box ingredients, a quantity limit was also set (e.g. 1 cup butter maximum for the western cuisine competition).

I must say I learned a whole lot and had a lot of fun. The ref raids I always do for fun at home turned out to be good training. These competitions were tests of nerves and composure as much as of cooking skill, and a sense of humor, though it didn't bag us the win, proved to score points.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Asian Market Basket

Today, at my first ever cooking competition I helped advance my team to the final round of our school's "Asian Market Basket." We walked into the kitchen, were given 20minutes to design a 4-course Asian menu with the limited ingredients on hand, and three hours to execute it. Nowhere near as stressful as professional black-box competitions, but hey it was our first time. The parameters: Starting time 10:10am, submit menu at 10:30 (1 starch, 1 meat, 1 seafood/fish, 1 freehand), submit 1st dish for judging at 12:30, subsequent dishes at 1:00, 1:15 and 1:30. Ervin's Fried Noodles with Three Minced Meats, Francis' Prawns in Mango & Star Anise Sauce, Balot's Chicken with Three Mushrooms served with Derick's Garlic Chive & Mushroom Dumplings, and my Fish Gone to Heaven earned us a place in next week's finals against 4 teams from the other classes. Too bad we didn't get a chance to take photos. Now I'm preparing for the Western Market Basket elimination round on Friday. Wish us luck!

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Legacy Buffet

Our class presented its Legacy Buffet last Sunday. My first Executive Chef gig! Wasn't total disaster but I must say I wasn't too happy with it. I won't go into details but I felt pretty down just yesterday thinking back to the buffet. Moving on, moving on....this was the menu:

On the table:
Crab Boursin
Maple, Pecan & Glazed Fruit Boursin

Sushi Bar:
Tempura Maki
Futo Maki
California Maki
Tempura Tuna Sashimi
Salmon Sashimi

Salad Bar:
Caesar Salad
Kani Salad
Salade Cressoniere
Mixed Greens & Mesclun
Thai Pomelo & Hearts of Palm
Raspberry Yogurt Vinaigrette
Honey Mustard & Dill

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Menudo Sulipeña
Paella Majorcana
Prawns Thermidor
Baked Salmon w/ Tarragon Whisked Butter Sauce
Cauliflower au Gratin
Lengua con Salsa de Nueces

Roast Hanger Steak
Stuffed Turkey
Boneless Lamb Leg

Sauce Béarnaise
Wild Mushroom Demiglace
Cranberry Sauce
Mint Jelly

Pasta Station:
Spaghetti, Penne, Fresh Leek Fettuccine

Spicy Aglio Olio & Pignoli
Italian Sausage w/ Salsa Pomodoro
Pasta Ysabel (seafood in béchamel)

Crêpe Station:
Banana Cream Crêpes
Strawberries Savannah Crêpes
Apples Normandie Crêpes

Pies & Cakes:
Mango Cream Pie
French Chocolate Cake
Strawberry Cheesecake
Coffee Chiffon Cake

Mini Desserts (in shot glasses):
Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Lemon-Thyme Crème Brûlée
Coconut Panna Cotta
Wasabi Panna Cotta
Raspberry Mousse
Peach Mousse
Dark Chocolate Truffles
White Chocolate & Macadamia Truffles

Sampaguita Ice Cream Topped w/ Sliced Fresh Mango
Sicilliano Gelato

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Team 1 rules!

Certainly not my best photography, but conditions in the kitchen at school are not conducive. O ayan para sa inyo, teammates...
Read the rest of this post...

Certainly not my best photography, but conditions in the kitchen at school are not conducive. O ayan para sa inyo, teammates. Team1 dabest! :-)

Ervin alias "Garlic Chives" alias "Saucy Boy"

Francis alias "Every Move You Make"

Derick aka "Party Animal"

Balot the "Roulade Mistress"

me :-)


Saturday, July 07, 2007

School's Cool

Day 2: Basic Nutrition

Go foods, Grow foods, Glow foods. Those LDLs...they're bad for you. But dang does fatty food taste good!

Day 3: Basic Culinary French

I have never taken lessons in French. Being me though I've picked up a few phrases here and there (a little knowledge always being a dangerous thing, of course), specially as I self-taught myself more and more about cuisine. "Je connais!" which I will probably hardly ever get to use, and "Je ne comprends pas." which is most probably as far as I'll get in a conversation after I get past "Je m'appelle JB."

woman: "Sugar?"
Mr. Bean: "Oui."
woman: "Crème?"
Mr. Bean: "Non."
woman: "Your French is very good!"
Mr. Bean: "Gracias!"

Now my vocabulary extends a bit more than ratatouille, en papillote, bouillabaise & vichysoisse. Speaking of ratatouille, I can't wait for the movie to come out!

Day 4: Culinary Math

And you kids fresh out of highschool thought you could escape math by taking this course! One of my class mates remarked, "Totoo pala sabi ng tatay ko: 'gagamitin mo din yan [math] balang araw.'" I of course already knew this, as cooking at home & for Regali Kitchen has had me converting between British & Metric, scaling recipes, crunching cost control numbers for some years now. Math on the fly is of course essential when at the market & grocery store. It's all just basic algebra of course - we're not talking differential calculus here - but it's gotta be fast, and it aint kid stuff. Beyond math, I find that the scientific method is my friend in the kitchen. Boy am I glad I learned something in highschool!

Day 5: Introduction to Gastronomy - "Eat, and Eat Ink!"

Cuisine being all-encompassing, this discussion mixed equal parts history, psychology, pop and classical culture, flavored with sprinklings of political economy and archaelogy, simmered in sociology. Man oh man I love that kind of stuff, and I want seconds! Eat ink? Yeah, ink has always been my favorite.

Day 6: Sanitation - "Happy Birthday to You 2x"

Go wash your hands. You heard me.

Day 7: Meat Fabrication Part 1

Cooked this:
Entrêcote à la Bordelaise
Roast Beef Tenderloin w/ cognac demiglace
Veal Escalopes w/ Wild Mushroom Sauce
Ox tongue preparation
Veal kidneys preparation

Day 8: Meat Fabrication Part 2

Cooked this:
Grilled Lamb Medallions w/ Mint Jelly & Orange Confit
Roast Ribeye w/ Port Demiglace
Scallopini à la Marsala
Osso Buco preparation
Ox tripe preparation

Today, during a momentary lull, Chef Gene gave the class a huge compliment. The compliment was this: "I want to push you further." At the start of the course he said that if he feels that we have what it takes he will push us harder. So that was real cool!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

JB goes back to school

Para bang Tommy Lee Goes to College? Hehehe.

When I was five my parents asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, and I said that I wanted to be a chef. Even though I did eventually develop a passion for cooking some decades later, my having said that when I was five was just a funny anecdote for most of my life.

So at 33, it's high time that I enrolled in a professional culinary course and got on track to becoming a real chef. So I'm finally doing it! I've enrolled for the professional program at the Center for Asian Culinary Studies.

A few weeks back I got all excited and bought a pair of black slacks, white undershirts, and black socks. Hahaha feeling schoolboy talaga!

Needed high school credentials so wrote to Pisay para humingi ng kopya ng diploma. My mistake: binanggit kong mag-aapply ako sa culinary school, and I barely escaped getting into a huge mess, and taking Hagee & Eileen with me too! My bio teacher back in HS, now-registrar Dra. Jess Yazon was very nice about it, even while she was implicitly threatening me with breach of contract. The heck with that. You could say I wasn't thinking. I'm so sorry that it's more natural for me to tell the truth. So sue me. Oops, I take that back--don't sue me.

Here's another back to school story: I need to submit my UP transcript of records to my new school, so I went back to UP early this week. Hanap ko ang registrar's office sa PHAN...sorry, wala na dun! May bagong building na ang reg dun sa may malapit sa what used to be ISMED. THAT made me feel old.

First day high
Yesterday, my birthday, was the first day of school! Knife skills. Fun! I think I already have a slight edge (pardon the pun) over most of my classmates. We only had one casualty: one of my group mates cut himself & spurted blood onto his neighbor, and the minced onions.

Birthday blues, and growing old
After school Steph & I hooked up and she treated me to dinner. Then home for some time with the family. All in all a fun day. Still not the kind of giddy happy birthday back when we were young, but special people still made it special.

My friend Kidlat once wrote, "Although I still really believe a lot of aging has to do with how you feel and how you look at the world... if you feel old you will look old hehehe..."

I agree. Now that explains why we in our barkada look much younger than all our highschool batchmates. I was the oldest person in class today (no surprise, though you do often get older people in culinary school) but no one knew it. People always think I'm much younger than I actually am. In any case I'm invariably finding my age (and the accompanying experience) an advantage when I'm with groups like that.

I think my annual birthday blues (which were pretty bad on the approach this year) don't really have much to do with feeling old. I think they've more to do with a feeling of getting left behind. But that's a whole different thread, and anyway, I'm finally fulfilling my childhood dream, so full steam ahead!

Avel, another kabarkada, once wrote, "This wasn't what I pictured myself doing when I was in [highschool]. But, just like what John Lennon said and what JB had on a pin that he wore before, "Life is what happens while you're making other plans". I used to think that that should mean you should stop making plans altogether. Nowadays, I think that you shouldn't have any regrets doing what made you happy."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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