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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Culinary School - Session 120: Final Exam Practical - Day 5

Culinary School: Session 120 (06.08.15)

Final Exam Practical - Day 5

The end...

And with just a few small bites, it was over.

The stark Judges' plate, dotted with a few select products for presentation, was a heart-wrenching understatement of the efforts that led to this point. And yet, if everything tasted good... and it did taste good... then it had all been well worth it.

25 hours for a Final Practical Exam may seem excessive. But that time was almost nothing in the context of the 600 kitchen hours that began over nine months ago when I cast caution to the wind and finally enrolled at the International Culinary Center. Combined with all of the lessons learned while working at Osteria Morini, it's hard to imagine how green I must have been.

But this is just the beginning. Two years ago, I was an Investment Banker sitting in a Park Avenue office, oblivious to what was soon to come. I can only imagine what the next two years might hold...

...I'm guessing lots of dessert! But you'll just have to wait and see.

Judges' Plate

Final Day Itinerary

Final Diploma and Awards

- The Final Products -

Brioche a Tete

For those who have never made Brioche a Tete, let me tell you that it is not easy getting those little "Tetes" to come out standing straight. There's a good reason why I typically make Brioche in other forms. Most often the Brioche a Tete end up listing to one side, like drowsy little rolls taking a nap in the oven.

But the exam gods were smiling - so many perfect, buttery breads!

Brioche a Tete

Proofing Brioche a Tete

Baked Brioche a Tete

Baked Brioche a Tete

Inside of Freshly Bake Brioche

Judges' Plate of Brioche a Tete

Chocolate Spiced Bonbons

Tempering Chocolate is something that seemed like black magic when I started in culinary school. And while it may be a case where practice made perfect, tempering Chocolate is now second nature. For the Final Practical Exam, these Chocolate Spiced Bonbons simply fell from the molds, the ultimate sign of a perfectly tempered batch.

Having since purchased a number of my own molds, and armed with the Mighty Power of Tempering, the temptation to turn out Bonbons on a whim will be hard to resist.

Judges' Chocolate Spiced Bonbons

Petits Fours Glaces

The next time I'm invited to high tea (or rather, the first time), I know what I'll bring.

Even if the cuteness factor is hard to take, there is something undeniably enticing about Petits Fours Glaces. And while it would be a departure from tradition, no one is saying that these can't be butched up a bit... hell, I can't wait to try some Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter and Bacon variations.

Judges' Petits Fours Glaces

Seasonal Tart

So a Tart with seven components was a bit ambitious. But this was the last hurrah! Why not make it memorable?

Every element made it to the plate with time to spare. I actually had enough time remaining to plate all of my back-up Tarts (those emergency shells, standing by in case I broke one... and another... and another).

Adding the Meringues and Rhubarb Tuile was certainly a gamble. Both components were a bit soft and chewy when I returned to the kitchen on the last day. But a quick hit in the oven made them crisp and ready for plating.

As for the Judges, they gave the presentation and flavor-profile a big thumbs up.

Seasonal Tart: Goat Cheese Mousse with Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Filling the Chocolate Sucree Tart Shell with Hazelnut Praline

Chocolate Sucree Tart Shell Filled with Hazelnut Praline

Chocolate Sucree Tart Shell Filled with Hazelnut Praline

Seasonal Tart Filled with Hazelnut Praline and Balsamic Strawberry Jam

Final Large Format Goat Cheese Mousse Tart with Balsamic Strawberry Jam


Don't trip.. don't trip... don't trip....

That had been my mantra for weeks. Of course, the school decided to put the Judging Room all the way down the longest corridor from our kitchen. Are you kidding me? On TV, they just have to move Showpieces three feet from one table to another!

I was so mentally prepared for disaster that I think I blacked out for the walk, regaining consciousness as I gently placed my Showpiece on the table... completely intact.

Kudos to the entire class. The overall work was beyond impressive!

The Long Hallway to the Judges' Room

Final Sugar Showpiece

Final Sugar Showpiece with Final Products

Final Sugar Showpiece with Final Products

Classmates' Showpieces: Lisa

Classmates' Showpieces: Jie

Classmates' Showpieces: Eileen

Classmates' Showpieces: Ronald

Classmates' Showpieces: Victor

Classmates' Showpieces: Carmen

Next - All New Things to Come!

Previous - Session 119: Final Exam Practical - Day 4

Take a look at the full syllabus

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