Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Your Work is God-Like..."

I can't stop smiling. Yesterday was one of the best days so far in my culinary journey. I still don't think my feet have touched the ground. My current instructor, Chef Casino, said my food was "God-like" or "Heavenly" or "of the Gods". To be honest, I don't remember the exact line. I was too busy glowing from success. But let me start at the beginning so that you can get a fuller understanding of why this meant so much...

I started Advanced Garde Manger on my birthday. I was so excited to turn 30 and start a new class. Little did I know the day would end with me in hysteric tears. I left class feeling like my skills were not at the level needed to be in this class. How could I have gotten this far with straight A's and still not possess the skills required to take this course?! I spend the entire afternoon in tears actually contemplating retaking a course or dropping out of school completely.

I'm sure if you are reading this, you know me well and know I didn't drop out. Instead, per my mother's encouragement, I became determined to conquer the course. And conquer it I did! I'm actually obsessed with it. I have not felt this inspired since becoming a catering manager at Patina. It is like someone lit a fire within me. All I can think about is the current project- they have even taken over my dreams. I'm going in early and staying late. My life completely revolves around this class.

At the beginning of this week, Chef Casino assigned us a "fun" project. By Thursday, we had to produce a recipe for a savory item that looked like tuna sashimi but wasn't. We also had to design a white feather out of a white food element. On Friday, we had to actually produce both of these items. Holy F!!! This is stuff you only see on tv. Sure, molecular gastronomy is big right now. Sure, it is something important to learn. But as students, don't you think we should receive more than 3 days to put together two challenging items?!

I stared and stared at photos of tuna sashimi hoping for inspiration. At last, it hit me that the meat slightly resembled blood orange juice. (thank God it was the only orange juice we served at Tiara Cafe so I was familiar with it.) When I bounced the idea off Chef he claimed it was the sexiest idea he has heard yet. Score! I'm in! Now how was I going to actually produce this blood orange tuna? Chef sent me home with some blood oranges, agar, & citric acid and told me to figure it out. Mario and I stayed up until midnight testing different chemical percentages and pureeing rice for the feather.

Friday, I woke up with a stomachache, completely nervous about having to produce this mad science experiment. It too me longer than I wanted, but the final product was "of the Gods". It was beautiful, if I do say so myself. And it was one of the only ones that actually looked like tuna sashimi. The Chef asked me for the recipe at least 4 times. (can you hear me jumping up & down as I type this??) I DID IT!!

Here are pictures so you can see the final product. I've also included some of the other projects I/we are working on in class.

Here it is....Blood Orange Tuna Sashimi

just another view
Salmon En Croute

Aging Sausages & Charcuterie

Agar Tomato

Parmesan Marshmellows

Kimchi- its been fermenting for about 2 weeks

Aspic Terrine

Cold Smoked Octopus Terrine

My pride & joy Camembert- I've been nursing these boys since the first day

Cheese Bound Vegetable Terrine- Cynthia's Beauty!!


  1. I'm SO proud of you, Des!!!!! xoxo, Kate.

  2. your sashimi looks delicious...blood orange...yum!