It's a Wrap!

How quickly time flies? Tonight marked our last night in Bleu at Western Culinary Institute, which also marks our last night at the school altogether. Many days it seemed like our time in our stark white coats and black and white checkered pants would never end, and now, it's seems like in just a blink, we're done. It was an unforgettable ride with everyone. Throughout the course of six months we saw some of our classmates leave, yet welcomed new bodies along the way. And I think it wasn't really until this past three weeks that we all realized how great of a class we had, how much we enjoyed working together and how much we'll miss each other.

We aren't completely done with our program, though. We have the next two weeks off to enjoy a much-needed holiday vacation. And in January, we'll all head out, individually, on our externships. The final step in earning our diplomas is to go out and work in the real world for six weeks. As my focus from the beginning has been writing, I'm excited to say that I'll be preparing to join The Oregonian's FOODday section and extern at the paper's test kitchen. A couple of weeks ago I was able to sit down with Linda Faus, FOODday test kitchen director and Martha Holmberg, editor of both FOODday as well as Portland's new food and drink magazine, MIX. As the externship is based in the kitchen, I'm hoping for an opportunity to write for either FOODday or MIX. We'll see. I will be involved in planning meetings for both publications, so it'll be right up my ally. I'm incredibly excited about the experience that lies ahead. And I'm happy to say some other students are heading on some exciting externships as well. Paley's Place, Bluehour, Bon Apetit catering and The Benson Hotel are just a few of the places around town who's kitchens will host some of my fellow classmates. I wish them the best of luck, although I know they will shine all on their own.
I've been so lucky to have such memorable nights with my class in the kitchen. And now I'm looking forward to taking my new knowledge on all things culinary to the next level. I'm sure my classmates are too. So to the Winter 2008 Diploma PM class, here's to you! I'll miss seeing your smiling, but tired faces in the kitchens each night. Do good. Let's all make each other proud. Go open your restaurants, write your cookbooks, start your catering businesses and most of all, make sure everyone you cook for tastes the best of what you have to offer.
Some pics from Restaurant Bleu...

Kitchen confidential? A peak at Joey, Jarod and Ryan prepping on the front line for the night's service.
Jarod standing proud as sous chef of the evening.

Mince it, Joey, mince it! Chop, chop!

Eric and Bryan hanging on for a torturous night working the salads in garde manger.

My first plate on the front line. Pan-seared cod with spinach risotto.
David working the whipped cream at the dessert line. I think he makes the best whipped cream ever. And no matter how big the batch, he always insists on doing it by hand, no electric mixer! That is the best way, I will agree.

Joey! What is that you're about to squirt down David K.'s neck?? I don't think that's proper plating!

McKinley sauteing up those clams and mussels for an appetizer order.

Are you getting ready to take a bite of the sweet mashed potatoes, Darrell? I think that's what Chef Luke wants to know, surveying in the background.

There you all are! Jarod, David, McKinley, Andrea and Darrell cooling off in the walk-in.

I got to work the desserts on the last night, and play with the plate design for the profiteroles. This was the final. Appetizing?

And the finale; literally. Oh how we will miss the dish pit. From day one in culinary school it was stressed that each student must do their own dishes (yeah, right). There were those of us who did, and those of us who NEVER did the dishes! Regardless, we could always count on a nice pile of dish pans, pots and bowls that were covered in evidence of the evening's recipes. And there is Ryan and Darrell; always troopers at the dish sink.

I hope you stay with me as I continue to explore and embark on adventures in the culinary world. After six months of school, I can honestly say though I've learned so much, I'm still a ways away from being an expert on anything. Here's to more exploring, learning and devouring more of what's out there!



A La Cuisine!

So tonight begins the true test, shall we say? Our last three weeks at the school, my 13 classmates and I will test what we've learned over the past six months in the school's open-to-the-public fine dining restaurant, Restaurant Bleu.

No instructors, no books of recipes to peak at, just us students, our knife rolls, and perfectly pressed whites.

The restaurant is open to the public Tuesday through Friday for 5-course lunch and dinner service. If you come in and try it, let me know what you think!

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