Thursday, October 20, 2016

Le Cordon Bleu

My first day at Le Cordon Bleu was definitely not what I was expecting. I arrived in the morning and waited in the front lobby to meet Madame Catherine Baschet, who would be my contact at the school. After a short while waiting I met Catherine who was lovely and was informed the South Australian Premier would be arriving shortly and I was to make up part of the welcoming delegation! This became a con-current tour for the both of us, as the Premier was shown around so was I so it worked out perfectly. I was introduced to a student of LCB, Ava Hancock who is a lawyer from Sydney, studying in Paris out of a passion for cookery. Once the course concludes in November though will return to being a lawyer back in Australia.
The school itself is amazing with incredible state of the art facilities, with a boulangerie, patisserie and even wine tasting room as well as the general cookery section. The highlight had to be the rooftop garden and bee hives.
After the delegation had left, I was put into a demonstration class with some students who were just starting their LCB course. It consisted of making a pomme charlotte and a basic french omelete. The classes are taught in French by the chef but translated by another assistant which was definitely a new experience for me.

The second day was very different to the first. I was invited to have lunch with the students who were finishing their LCB course in a month at the restaurant in Paris called Le Pre Catelan. It is a 3 Michelin star restaurant located in a giant park with a magnificent old manor house and was something that I will never forget. The meal was not their usual set menu but a function menu for the one hundred or so students that were there so it was very good but I'm sure not their most exceptional work.

The third day was finished with another demonstration this time with more senior students. Two dishes to be prepared were veal fillet with morels, potato puree, glazed vegetables and a salted caramel mousse with coffee Chantilly cream and caramel cognac sauce. The chef was very old school French and very entertaining I managed to get a quick picture with him after the class!

Overall the three days at LCB were a series of terrific experiences and memories which, with the friends I made there, I will hold dear to me for a long time!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Final Week at Sur Mesure...

The last three days at the restaurant went by fast. I was fortunate enough to spent an afternoon/night in the patisserie section on Tuesday with the head pastry chef Alex. Alex hails from San Francisco so it was good to have a fellow native english speaker teaching me the ins and outs of Sur Mesure's many sweet molecular creations. Each 9 course menu is finished with a "Bento Box", a three level round container with a range of sweet creations including lemon szechuan sponge and wasabi chantilly cream. I got to help Alex prepare the new dessert for the smaller 6 course menu, a gluten free szechuan crumble, rose parfait disc and rose sorbet with a rose foam. Here's a quick picture I snapped of it which probably does it more justice than my meager description!

My final day was met with mixed emotions. I wish I could of stayed longer and learn even more from the kitchen and its incredible chefs. Eight days only allows you to scratch the surface of whats possible at this level of culinary excellence. But, you have to console yourself with the knowledge that even this short period of time was invaluable and there will be more opportunities to further your skills and knowledge you just have to work hard and take a chance every once in awhile, you never know what can happen. That's the real lesson I have learnt from the Thierry Marx Career Development Award. I feel incredibly blessed to have been given this chance and now for the next chapter, time to visit Le Cordon Bleu!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My First Week at Sur Mesure...

Let me start off by saying it has been a whirlwind experience. On my first day I was introduced to the kitchen and it's inhabitants (mainly chefs) who were very kind to a strange intruder who barely spoke any French beyond the basics. I was paired up with the two commis chefs in larder and proceeded to help prep for lunch service. Thankfully, one of the chefs was English and the other was French but had spent 6 months working in Melbourne at Matteo's so they both were able to help me navigate the perils of not speaking the common language of the kitchen.
An average day started at 8:30-9am and finished around 1030-11pm with a two hour break after lunch service. Prep could include breaking down and cleaning langostines, rolling strips of cucumber and prepping the onions for the soup. All the while other chefs would come over and get me to try parts of their dishes they were working on at the time which was definitely a highlight and each time helped to expand my taste memory and palate.
Navigating the three levels of the Mandarin Oriental was initially a challenge and quite daunting but as time passed it became easier and the amount of time spent backtracking down corridors diminished drastically. Working in new kitchens has it's challenges but with the help of the Sur Mesure team I quickly overcame them and started to find my groove.
Service is quite different from what I am used to back at Donovans in Melbourne, Sur Mesure seats around 40 guests and has just one sitting. This doesn't mean there is room for slacking either because each plate sent to the pass must be as close to perfect as possible with requires an immense amount of focus and concentration.
Overall it has been a very busy week but I am so happy to be here and absorbing all the information I can while it lasts!!

Here is one quick photo I took of an incomplete dish from larder

Friday, October 7, 2016

Heres a quick video showing the Church of St Eustache coming straight from my apartment...

Sunday, October 2, 2016

My first day in Paris started at 9am. I had just arrived from the airport from my 22 hour journey exhausted but elated to finally be in Paris. First port of call was to my apartment for a long overdue shower and cup of coffee! I was met by Phillipe, the owner of the apartment, who opened it up and gave my a quick tour and then showed me the local park, eateries and metro station to give me a running start. After showering and changing I decided the best way to stay awake till the evening was to head into the heart of Paris and see some sights. First stop was the Notre-Dame Cathedral which was breathtakingly massive, only pictures (or better yet, seeing it in person) can do it true justice.

I decided to walk towards the river Seine and make my way to the Louvre Museum. The museum is located in the old royal palace and hosts some amazing architecture as well as sheer massive scale in size. The art inside the museum ranges from ancient Egyptian and Greek artifacts and sculptures to classic Italian renaissance works of art. The highlight of these had to be the Mona Lisa which was stunning and truly did follow you around the room!