Friday, November 13, 2009

Validation, for now.

Today was our first day of cooking - applesauce and candied orange zest. It was stressful. I cook food every single day, far more complicated than applesauce and candied orange zest. I was a wreck, we all were. Running around the kitchen like maniacs and in a complete state of panic. Someone, who we have all grown to respect and admire, was going to be judging our food. It was nerve racking.

I thought my applesauce was too thin in the pan and freaked out. I put it through the food mill and voila, texture was good. Flavor was good. I wasn't entirely sure how it happened, but it did. I added a little cinnamon and thought, holy crap, I put in too much cinnamon. I was embarrassed as I walked to the front of the room and handed Chef my bowl of applesauce, which I tirelessly polished and wiped to make sure that presentation was perfect. He tasted it and said it was rocking, dead on, and gave me 100% on my very first professional cooking experience. I just stood and stared at him until my voice finally came back to me and I croaked, "really?" Chef laughed and told me to stop underestimating myself, that I did well.

The candied orange zest didn't go quite as well. I have never candied anything before and when Chef was doing the latter part of the demo, I was right in the middle of putting my apples on the stove and missed it. I am not saying that I didn't screw it up, I did. I second guessed myself and pulled the orange zest off the stove too soon. I was afraid of it overcooking and didn't trust my instincts. I still got an 8/10 because it was perfect, except for the zest being under-candied.

I know that all sounds a tad arrogant, but I needed that boost to my ego. After 3 weeks of knife cuts that I was mediocre at, I will admit, I was starting to second guess myself. Until we got in the kitchen and, even though I was in a total state of panic, I was at home. I can't quite explain the feeling that I had, other than to say that it all just felt right.

All of my classmates were so excited to start cooking from day one. I was terrified. I willed it never to happen. I hoped that I would somehow graduate culinary school without ever cooking a thing, because if it turns out I sucked at this? Then what?

It was just applesauce. So, maybe I do suck. But, for now, I am going to choose to believe that applesauce is the first of many, many "rocking, spot on" dishes.

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