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Final Exams - Culinary School Diaries, Week 15

The week that our course had all been building to, the dreaded exam week. Monday to Friday this time, 3 hours each day, to make 10 dishes. For obvious reasons, I didn't take photos during all the stressed, time-intensive exam, but I've included photos from the first time I made them!

Monday Monday was nice and self contained, with no prep for or from other days, and was focused on the main dish of ballotine pigeon, fig and pistachio boudin, braised baby turnips, parsnip puree, butternut squash and pigeon jus, as well as a dessert of prune and armagnac souffle and pecan and apple crumble. This was a pretty good day for me, I did well, and was particularly pleased with my souffle's rise.


Tuesday was a lot more hectic than the Monday, and I ended up serving my final dish with 30 seconds to spare. The first dish of the day was salmon cooked in spiced olive oil with a mussel, clam and sweet potato chowder. As mentioned before, I really did not like this as an exam dish, as there wasn't really any way to tell if the fish was cooked or not, and I was in quite a stress anyway with all the other things to get done. This was mainly due to my other course of John dory with squid ink linguini and a shrimp beurre blanc, which proved very time intensive, as I ended up making tagliatelle instead of linguini, which took up a lot of time to redo. Today we also had to make the pineapple parfait for Wednesday and semi-dry some tomatoes for Thursday. I had some slight issues with the parfait mix, with the sugar crystallising, but I fixed this, and ended up with a distinction!


After the stress of Tuesday, I went into Wednesday fully knowing it would be a tough day, with a large main to make, as well as a dessert that requires a lot of attention, and preparation for two different duck dishes later on in the week. The main course was roasted poussin with stuffed leg, served with puff pastry boxes, baby leeks, spinach, wild mushrooms, a leek mousse and a sauternes sauce. This went really well for me, and I was really proud of my sauce, though my markers did not share my opinions on the sauce. We also served the pineapple parfait from yesterday with pineapple jelly, griddled pineapple and a rum and Szechuan caramel, and cooked duck legs ready for rillettes and duck tortelli.


Thursday's menu was duck tortelli with a sage and hazelnut butter, as well as an aromatic crab parcel with sauce vierge and dried tomatoes. We also made duck rillettes and a spelt bread loaf for Friday and started Danish pastry dough as well, which meant that the first hour or so of the day was entirely dedicated to just making doughs.


Friday was a much less stressful day than the others, just making Danish pastries and plating the duck rillettes and spelt bread on a sauternes jelly, with caramelised apple puree. This suited me, though, as it meant I could take a break mid exam to make a pot of coffee!

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