Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Work Night in the Kitchen

I mentioned last week that I started a new job at Johnson & Wales University. I was drawn to the university because the Denver location is right in my neighborhood and I just loved the campus, and one of the degrees offered is culinary. What a fun degree to work with!

Two weeks ago Thursday, 15 of my colleagues from across the country were in town for our annual meetings on campus. As our Thursday evening team builder, we were in the kitchens in our culinary labs cooking a nine course meal with the chef instructors. How fun is that for a workday?? We split into three teams: Salads, main dishes, desserts. I chose the one that had the least likelihood of having to touch meat (desserts), though once we broke into the wine, we weren't really in our neat organized teams anymore! 

Fun fact: You can tell the "real" chefs from the rest of us by the white coats.

 Chef Phillips explaining his background as a culinary student turned pastry chef to the desserts team.

 The two guys talking are real chefs that recruit for the university. I knew I was the smart one when I chose to be on their team!

 The candied apples took way more work than I'd ever expect! Chef Phillips used the blow torch to crystallize the sugar and melt the crystallized sugar discs over the candied apples. You can see the discs pre-melting dispersed among the apples.

 There were some current culinary students helping us out, too. Here, a teaching moment as we are making cream cheese marshmallows.

 The goat cheese-endive boats (that's what I called them) with beet caviar and candied pecans were so good, they never made it to the table!

 Making beet caviar takes lots of supervision.

 The chef used liquid nitrogen to flash freeze candied pecans! They topped the boats for a sweet crunch. And maybe were eaten right from the platter, too.

 Well, I think we'll just let the professionals take over the cooking for now. If anyone needs us, we'll be by the wine.

Our menu for the evening. I don't know what half the things are, but it was a delicious meal!

 Making ice cream right in front of us for one of our two desserts.

This little apple is the final product of the pictures above. Even the stem is edible - it's homemade chocolate!

 Chef Breanna! What do you think? Can I pull the look off?

It was such a fun way to get to know my colleagues and really see what it can be like for the students I'm recruiting. Plus, I have so much more appreciation for all the work that goes into a really nice meal out! I will never balk at $7.00 for a dish of homemade ice cream again!


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