Saturday’s class was very fun and exciting—despite missing a few fun social events. I started the day off with a few friends at a popular beer garden here in NYC for a friend’s birthday, but kept things calm so I wouldn’t cut my hand off the first night of real recipe making.
We got a quick demo from Chef and then we were turned loose to make our own ratatouille. Chef likes us to work with different people each night, so that we can get to know all of our classmates and learn what it’s like to work with a variety of different people. Tonight I happened to be paired with a classmate that I first met at a meet and greet the school had for us the night before orientation. We couldn’t be more different, but we got along nicely and worked well together.
I’d never made ratatouille before and, to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever really ordered it anywhere either? Either way, between the two of us, we executed the recipe without any major fiascos. At one point, I thought the veggies had gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I gave it a quick stir and turned down the heat a bit and things were fine. Thank god. It really can be quite stressful with everyone running around the kitchen grabbing ingredients, chef yelling that said ingredients are now all over the floor and that we are messy. I can only imagine what it’s going to be like when we get into the complicated stuff—this is supposed to be the easy part!
Chef liked our ratatouille, even though I thought there was a bit of liquid running from it that made the appearance of the plate not-so-pretty. His opinion matters more than mine right now, but I guess I’m a bit critical of my own work. Who isn’t?
Our second dish was a roasted beet, goat cheese timbale with apple and vinaigrette. Basically, it’s chopped beets topped with a layer of seasoned goat cheese and garnished with frisee salad dressed with an apple shallot vinaigrette. I LOVE BEETS, I LOVE GOAT CHEESE, and I LOVE VINEGAR so I was really excited for this dish. Right up my alley. Anyway, this dish required more precise cuts, but it was much simpler to prepare.
When we brought this dish to chef, he said he enjoyed it and that it was plated nicely but he did suggest having more beets with the amount of goat cheese we used—the ratio should be more long the lines of 80 to 20. He also said the bite from the vinegar was a bit strong—something he likes but that French chefs would be opposed to. But then came the ultimate compliment. Chef told us we did a very nice job with our recipes and that he “liked our palates.” I have to admit, I’m kind of hanging on to that one for now, even though I know he might hate my dish or my palate tomorrow night!