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Dumplings, diners and disaster - Culinary School Diaries, Week 13

Week 13 was dining club week, a very different experience to the rest of the course, where we were serving the public each night Monday to Thursday. During the days, everyone was in the kitchen prepping for the evening service, and then the course was split up into two groups; one half cooking for service and the other serving the customers. The week's menu was Indian inspired and was comprised of the following;


Canapes, breads and chutneys

  • Samosa with spiced pork and fenugreek

  • Crispy fried squid

  • Pakoras

  • Bombay mix

  • Keema naan

  • Paratha

  • Peanut chutney

  • Mint and coriander chutney

  • Tamarind chutney



Amuse bouche

  • Lime, mango and coriander cured seabass with seared scallop, roasted mango dressing, avocado, and lentil pearls



Poultry course

  • Lightly steamed dumplings filled with chicken, ginger and coriander with beetroot salsa and smoked tomato chutney



Fish course

  • Yoghurt, lemon and turmeric marinated halibut with clams and a tomato, curry leaf and coconut broth, with a squid ink tuile



Main course

  • Tandoori style loin of venison, braised haunch, spiced potatoes and spinach, lentils, tamarind and coconut



Dessert

  • Vanilla poached pear with pomegranate jelly, pistachio and yoghurt



Petit fours

  • White chocolate, pistachio and rose fudge

  • Pate de fruits

  • Macarons


I spent Monday and Tuesday as the commis chef to my coursemate as a sous chef on the amouse bouche section, which involved a lot of washing and prepping the scallops, as well as the creation of various gels for plating, and the thin slicing of seabass for a sort of carpaccio. I was also put on making the burfi (a fudge-like snack with ground almonds) for the petit fours, which was a much trickier task than expected when using not-so-accurate thermometers to measure the sugar temperature. The two evenings were my first (and hopefully last) experiences serving food, which involved a few hours of folding napkins into pretty flower shapes, wiping down an awful lot of tables and smiling a lot at customers as they asked me to adjust the angle of their cutlery. I have decided that I am not very good at being a waiter, as I am just a bit too clumsy for serving them and am not quite steady handed enough.


On Wednesday and Thursday I was in charge (in theory) of the poultry dish of the chicken and beetroot dumplings, which proved to be quite a bit harder than expected, with issues with wrappers too thick and too thin, as well as a bit of a problem with them catching on the trays whilst cooking. Service itself was very much a team effort, with everyone helping out each others courses. I think we had about 50 covers each night, which meant that a lot of service for me was prepping the plates ready to have dumplings placed on them. Our services ran pretty smoothly, other than the fact that I had a rather considerable nosebleed halfway through service of my course on the Thursday night, the same night I had friends visiting, which was a bit of a disaster! Though we were told that the Thursday night was probably the best service of a main course that the school had ever had!

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