Two posts? In two days? Gosh. I’m like buses, or policemen. Actually, I’m not like policemen because we don’t like them at the moment. Buses are alright though.

Yesterday was my last evening at college until the new year. For the past few weeks the small restaurant attached to the college kitchen has been up and running a Christmas menu for paying punters. So we brave band of NVQ students have been playing at grown-up chefs and doing a live service each evening. Which is pretty cool. There’s no other way I could get this experience, which is part of the reason I chose this course.  Last night I was on pastry, so made fruit tartlets with a creme patissiere filling, topped with fruit and a glaze, served with coulis.  Believe it or not I didn’t cock any of them up. I didn’t even break any of them, which was a miracle because small, fiddly, piping-hot things are not usually my forte.

It was a good atmosphere last night. People were helping each other out pretty well, with a few minor exceptions (Ernst, are you still banging on about your carrots?). The stress was enough to make it exciting but not so much as to not be enjoyable. Half the battle is learning to move around the kitchen and not get in each other’s way. We aren’t always that good at this as a group, mostly because we are all crowding round same bits of equipment/still not quite sure where everything is/sometimes slightly too many in number. We managed though. I think all the customers paid, and none of the dishes came back. Of course the locals might just have low expectations.

The service is done by the full-time NVQ hospitality students (16-19 year olds), whose cheery little teenage faces have been adorned with santa hats the past few weeks – enhancing the overall surrealness of Wednesday nights in Twickenham. Bless them.

So, a third of my way into the course, these are some thoughts:

  • I don’t want to eat any more egg based sauces for a while;
  • I am no longer scared of the salamander;
  • I am no longer scared of deep fat friers;
  • I don’t want to eat any custard based puddings for a while;
  • I reckon I can now take the bone out of any joint of meat;
  • I can confidently fillet fish;
  • I cannot, and possibly will never be able to, carve a flower on the top of a mushroom;
  • …or make a sodding bavarois;
  • The trains in SW London are a lot better than the ones in SE London (but the latter negates the former);
  • I would rather do this than sit behind my desk writing briefings for Members of Parliament.

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Yesterday, I said next time I would also blog about the True Meaning of Christmas. This was a rather ambitious statement and hubris has bitten me in the arse, because I am still working it out.  However, that clever Minchin chap has sung a song about it, and if you buy it for 79p the procedes go to the National Autistic Society.

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