Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Internship: Day 21, 12/14/05

My last day, and many of the staff told me how much they had enjoyed working with me, which was really great. The lunch crew was sad, and gave me big hugs. I’m really sad that I’m leaving, but I spoke with D before I left and he said that they’re definitely going to be restructuring things and should have a permanent position for me early next year. They also invited me to their Christmas party, so I’ll be seeing everybody again on Sunday, which is nice. I also talked to D about what he meant by improving my initiative, and he said that I just need to be a little more assertive about jumping in and doing things without direction, and about volunteering for new projects that I’m interested in. He said that if I come to work there permanently, they’ll definitely push me to do that. I can see where he’s coming from—my personality is definitely on the timid side, especially when I feel that I don’t totally know what I’m doing. But he pointed out that the way you learn is by screwing things up, and that I should be willing to take risks. Point well taken.

I’m really happy with how far I’ve come, during my internship as well as during my first year of school. In one year, I’ve gone pretty much from 0—basic cooking skills, nothing special—to potentially having a job at one of the top restaurants in the city. I feel like I’ve got a very, very long way to go to get where I want to be, but I feel that I’m off to a decent start.

Working at Quake has been a great experience. I really hope that they hire me on, as I feel that I would really be able to continue to grow there.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Internship: Day 20, 12/12/05

A relatively uneventful day. Lunch was fairly busy, and we had a lot of prep to do. We experimented with the new scallop dish which none of us for thrilled with—we all thought it needed some adjusting. I got my final evaluation back from D, and it was mostly good. In both my midterm and this evaluation, though, he indicated that I could use more initiative in the kitchen. I’m not sure what that means, so I’ll have to talk to him about it on Wednesday—my last day!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Internship: Day 18, 12/05/05

This was such a fun day! We needed to do a lot of morning prep work because they’d been extremely busy over the weekend, so things started out hectic, but L, the hostess, brought in cookies and that made everyone a little happier. Lunch was back to busy, but we had a good time anyway, joking around during the slower parts. There are some new appetizers on the menu, so T and I spent some time learning to plate those.

After service, I made up a batch of the butternut squash soup, and it turned out wonderfully—I was very happy. I also helped Z, the new intern, pick the confit pig and form the appetizer patties. We listened to Christmas music while we worked, and everybody was in a good mood. It was also refreshing to actually be showing somebody else how to do something!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Internship: Day 17, 12/01/05

The first day of December, and it was lovely to watch the snow fall outside the big picture window in the front of the restaurant. I don’t usually work on Thursdays as I have to work evenings at the Chopping Block, but I wanted to make up for my lost hours on Monday. The snow seemed to put the lunch crew in a festive mood, and they teamed up with the pastry kitchen to make pancakes. T topped them with a mixture of bananas and apples sautéed with butter and cinnamon. A wonderful way to start the day!

Lunch was busier than it has been, and we had a bit of a rush. I handled the bulk of it by myself and T was downstairs working on soup, and I feel that I didn’t do half bad. When things slowed down, we worked on peeling and cutting salsify into a brunois for soup garnish. I left earlier than usual to head to work at the Chopping Block.


SalsifySalsify [SAL-sih-fee] This root vegetable is also known as oyster plant because its taste resembles a delicately flavored oyster. The parsnip-shaped salsify can reach up to 12 inches in length and 2 ½ inches in diameter. The most commonly found salsify has a white-fleshed root with grayish skin, though there are varieties with a pale golden skin, as well as one with a black skin (also called sorzonera). Though salsify is more popular in Europe than in the United States, it can be found here from June through February, usually in Spanish, Italian, and Greek markets. Choose well-formed roots that are heavy for their size and not too gnarled. Refrigerate, wrapped in a plastic bag, up to a week. Salsify is generally eaten plain as a vegetable, or used in savory pies and soups.

Definition compliments of the New Food Lover’s Companion.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Internship: Day 15, 11/21/05

Not much to report—this was the slowest service I’ve worked, I guess because it’s Thanksgiving week. We did some routine prep work during service. I got to try a new dish: grilled California sturgeon with orange glazed ham hock, knefla (flour dumplings), brussel sprout leaves, and crispy garlic. It was really, really good. Either I’ve never had sturgeon before or this was particularly good. There wasn’t much going on after service so I left earlier than usual, happy to head off towards the holiday

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Internship: Day 16, 11/30/05

I missed my usual Monday due to travel delays in Ohio, but returned this Wednesday much refreshed from the holidays. Lunch was still pretty slow, so I spent some time at the grill station grilling bread on over the huge wood fire grill, and then on the sauté station learning to make and plate the bouillabaisse. T and I also experimented with the sweetbreads to perfect the cooking technique—apparently they’ve been somewhat undercooked. The sweetbreads are sautéed with jerusalem artichokes, pickled pearl onions, and herbed remoulade. It was only the second time I’ve ever tried sweetbreads—the first time was at Lola Bistro in Cleveland, OH, and I thought they tasted like liver, which I hate. I liked this dish much better.

After service, I prepped the butternut squash soup: butternut squash, carrots, onion, celery, apple cider, brown sugar, and butter. I put it on a burner up in the pastry kitchen, and got to taste fresh batches of eggnog and buttermilk ice cream while I was at it. Delicious!

Before leaving for the day, I drained the new batch of sweetbreads and set them up to be pressed under a weight to release the liquid.

Internship: Day 14, 11/16/05

Lunch was relatively slow so we did a lot of prep work for the evening service. I helped M, who works sauté, make buckwheat crepes for a private party happening that night. They use regular sauté pans instead of nonstick, so it was a little more difficult, but it worked. I love the buckwheat crepes. When I came in for dinner, long before staging, I had the buckwheat crepe dish. It’d different now (served as a gratin), but then it was filled with vegetables and a cream sauce. The vegetables were cooked but still perfectly crisp—it was fabulous.

After service, I filled the crepes with an in-house smoked salmon (so good!), red onions, a dill crème fraiche, and rolled them burrito-style. I also made up a batch of the Star Anise Marinade before I took off for the day.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Internship: Day 13, 11/14/05

Today seemed like a small turning point. I feel like some things clicked into place—a very subtle click, but something. Lunch service was really the usual, although T suggested that on Wednesday he take me through his specific set-up process. I’m getting setup down, but it always feels very random. He said that he’ll take me through it step by step so that I can write down the information for my own reference. I think it’s a great idea.

After lunch, I prepped a vegetable that D explained as a cross between brussel sprouts and broccoli. It must be new a new hybrid, though, because I can’t find any information on it. Broccolini (a cross between brocooli and Chinese kale) is the closest thing I came across, but that’s not it. I believe D called it brusselini, and it looked like a stalk with thick green leaves and little tiny brussel sprout buds. I removed the leaves, pinched off the thick stem, cut them in half, and then cut them chiffonade. I then sautéed them with thin slivers of garlic and shallot until it was tender, and seasoned the whole thing with salt and pepper.

The next project was trimming veal cheeks. K showed me how to slip my boning knife under the silver skin, anchor the flap with my other hand, and use the tension to remove the skin in a thin strip. Once they were all trimmed, I made up what D called the “all-purpose Quake marinade”—extra-virgin olive oil, sriracha, Herbes d’Provence and black pepper—and mixed that up with the cheeks.

I also made up some of the star anise steak marinade before I left—they use it to marinate the hanger steak, which I got to taste the other day. It’s really good—I’m not a big fan of star anise because I don’t like the licorice flavor (although I think the spice itself is so pretty), but it really works with the steak. I plan on making some of it at home for my boyfriend.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Internship: Day 12, 11/09/05

Wednesday was a good day. The lunch crew was in a good mood as there wasn’t a lot of prep to do. T brought in a mix CD with some music especially for me (he’s pretty much the only one there that shares my musical taste) and we listened to it while we were getting ready for service. That was really nice.

Lunch was steady, busier than Monday but not crazy. I feel like I’m getting better and better with the hot side dishes, but I also feel like I have a long way to go.

After service I did some basic prep work, including prep for Bouillabaisse.

No more word on the potential hiring-on, so I haven’t a clue what’s going on with that. My fingers are crossed for the best.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Internship: Day 11, 11/07/05

Monday was fairly hectic to being as there was a lot of prep work to do. Apparently Saturday was really busy and there wasn’t must left at the end of dinner service. We got it all done, though, and the actual lunch service wasn’t too bad. I’m getting in earlier than T so I get to start setting up by myself, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. I worked the hot side through service, and I feel like I did pretty well.

After lunch I went to work cutting up pork bellies into thirds to prepare them for use in the pork belly sandwich for lunch as well as for the dinner entrée. Once they were cut, I seasoned them with salt and pepper and took them upstairs to sear. The dinner crew was doing a lot of prep work on the service stovetops, so I had to go all the way up to the pastry kitchen. There was also only one pan available so I could only do one belly at a time; that made the process more time-consuming, but I like hanging out in the pastry kitchen. While I was searing, I got to try some Meyer lemon chiboust that was really good—light and creamy. I also talked to S about the Halloween buttercream—she said it’s a basic Italian buttercream, but that I can copy the recipe if I want. I need to remember to do that. I seared the pork bellies until they were golden, brushed them with marinade, and stacked them into hotel pans to be braised later on. They were actually really pretty with their golden skin and flecks of green herb from the marinade. I’ll have to try the sandwich for lunch sometime.

I also got to taste the fruits of my sauerkraut labor—J was cooking it up while I was working on the bellies. He informed me that there will be more kraut to do shortly. Oh, the horror!


Chiboust: A custard made originally as the filling for the gâteau Saint- Honor, consisting of pastry cream lightened with Italian meringue and stabilized with gelatine.

Definition compliments of

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Internship: Day 10, 11/02/05

Wow! Today was an intense day. It was unexpectedly the busiest day that I’ve worked the line. I got in a little earlier since I’d taken my knives in to have them sharpened (I also picked up a sharpening stone and a new hat while I was at it). T wasn’t in yet, and M played a little joke on me by telling me that he wasn’t coming in, and today was all me. While that sent me into to a mild state of panic, I was (surprisingly) ready to take it on, disastrous though it might be. M actually wasn’t able to hold out very long, and let me know that T was just running a little late. He was impressed that I didn’t freak out, though, and was willing to take it on even though I only barely have a grasp on things. The good thing about T being late is that I got to start setting up by myself, and while I’m definitely slow and have to really think things through, I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m going to start coming in at 8:30am so I’m there for the entire setup, and I plan to talk to T about letting me set up without help—maybe next Wednesday.

Everybody thought that it was going to be a slow lunch—it was reported that there were only 28 reservations on the books. There was apparently a miscalculation, though, because about 20 minutes before service 28 turned into 48. The original plan was to have me work hot side if things were slow and cold when we got busy, and to have T and M switch stations (T on sauté and M on pantry) for learning purposes. We went ahead with that at first and it was pretty chaotic. I was training M on the dishes I know, referring to my notes for dishes I’m not as sure of, with T stepping in on the new dishes that I haven’t done yet. As we got busier it was just too much, so we reverted to our usual positions. I feel like I held my own pretty well, although I still have trouble keeping everything straight at that pace (I often forget to put the tickets up with the food, and it’s hard to keep track of multiple dishes at once). T seemed to be pretty happy with my performance, though, which is good.

After service, I prepped the evening’s amuse bouche—a sunchoke puree to be garnished with a relish of brunoised apples and red onions (mixed with a little lemon, olive oil, and sugar—I prepped that, too) and crab meat. I didn’t get to taste the garnished amuse but the soup was delicious—creamy with a flavor that reminded me of creamed corn. I also prepped some preserved lemons by quartering almost a case of lemons, layering them with equal amounts of sugar and salt per layer, and pressing each layer to release the juice (reminiscent of the sauerkraut but much less labor intensive). I added a little water at the end so that the lemons would be completely covered by liquid, added a weight to keep it pressed down, and wrapped it up in plastic wrap where it will sit until the lemons are preserved.

The best news is that before I left for the day, J talked to me about the possibility of being hired on. I suspected this was coming because they’d begun to ask me when my internship would be done, and when I’d be done with school. They also called T in for a meeting today and I guessed it might have something to do with me (and he must have said good things, which is great). The biggest issue is that I don’t want to leave the Chopping Block during the holiday season. They’ve already got the holiday schedule worked out, and it would be hard for them to bring in someone new to replace an experienced worker during their busiest time of year. J seemed to take that in stride though, and said that they need to talk about it some more, but I think it looks good. That makes me really happy—I was worried about where I would go after my internship was over. I like Quake so much, and I feel that working there will give me experience that I need. I think it would be hard to find another place that would be such a good fit.


Jerusalem Artichoke (also Sunchoke) This vegetable is not truly an artichoke but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that often resembles a gingerroot. Contrary to what the name implies, this vegetable has nothing to do with Jerusalem but is derived instead from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. Because of its confusing moniker, modern-day growers have begun to call Jerusalem artichokes sunchokes, which is how they’re often labeled in the produce section of many markets. The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet, and crunch. Jerusalem artichokes are available from about October to March. Select those that are firm and fresh-looking and not soft or wrinkled. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. After that, they will begin to wither because of moisture loss. They may be peeled or, because the skin is very thin and quite nutritious, simply washed well before being used. Jerusalem artichokes can be eaten raw in salads or cooked by boiling or steaming and served as a side dish. They also make a delicious soup. Jerusalem artichokes are a good source of iron.

Definition compliments of the New Food Lover’s Companion.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Internship: Day 9, 10/31/05

Happy Halloween!

It was a pretty mellow day, and everyone was in a good mood. The pastry kitchen made us some chocolate cupcakes with orange buttercream frosting for Halloween treats, and they were fabulous. I’m going to have to ask them how they get their buttercream so light—mine generally turns out a little heavier.

Service was slow but steady. I still mostly handled the cold side, but did a couple of hot dishes here and there. I still feel a little lost on setup, but I’m hoping that I’ll get a handle on it soon. Since we had some extra time, we did some prep work for dinner. I peeled, cleaned, and cut up some red kuri squash. I loved the squash because it’s so pretty, but its thick skin was really hard to deal with. The smaller squash with smoother skin wasn’t so bad because you could peel it with a regular peeler and then cut through it with some effort. The larger squash were impossible—the bumpy skin made using the peeler impossible, but it was too tough for either a paring knife or a chef’s knife. Nobody was able to get them split open, even with a serrated knife. I assume there must be a way, but we didn’t figure out today.

There wasn’t much to do after service. The dinner staff was pretty much ready to go, and it looked like it was going to be a relatively slow night. I did prep the next day’s butternut squash soup before I left, which consisted of peeling, cleaning, and chopping up about 7 or 8 butternut squash and adding in 3 onions, 3 leeks, 3 carrots, and 3 stalks of celery. The butternut squash was much easier to deal with than the kuri, but it left a black film on my hand that I had to scrape off with a dish scrubby. I saved all of the seeds from both the kuri and the butternut to take home and roast, which I’m very excited about. I love fresh roasted seeds, and I haven’t had a chance to make any this year since I haven’t had the time to carve a pumpkin.


Red Kuri Squash A thick-skinned orange colored squash that has the appearance of an oblong pumpkin without the ridges. Inside the hard outer skin there is a firm flesh that provides a very delicate and mellow flavor similar to the taste of chestnuts. This squash is available year round and can be baked, braised, pureed, or steamed to be served as a side dish or used as a base for soups. Also known as a Japanese squash, Orange Hokkaido or Uchiki Kuri squash.

Definition compliments of Hormel Online.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Internship: Day 8, 10/26/05

Busy, busy lunch today. I’m glad I didn’t go out the night before because it would be bad to be brain-dead when I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing. I already feel like I might be coming down with a cold, which might explain Monday’s fuzziness. One of the girls in pastry thinks she has the flu—she had to leave early on Monday. I’ve been tired for really no reason, although that could just be the beginning of burnout. I haven’t had a full day off now for two and a half weeks. My schedule feels considerably lighter this quarter, but I still tend to have something to do every day—school, work, or internship. However, I’ve unexpectedly got this Thursday off (my class at the Chopping Block got cancelled) and I took this weekend off for Halloween. So I should, in theory anyway, be able to get some rest. I really hope I’m not getting sick.

I was supposed to work hot side of the pantry for lunch, but since it was so busy that didn’t really happen. I did handle most of the cold dishes, though, and I think I’m slowly improving. I made a few hot dishes when things calmed down. I made the scallop appetizer for my own lunch: seared Maine diver scallops with local apples, celeriac, summer truffles, and honey butter:

Setup was still bewildering. I’d like to plan a day where I come in extra early and set up myself just to see how it goes. I’ll have to talk to T about that next week.

After service, I had the interesting job of prepping the rabbit sausage. I diced rabbit meat, pork butt, fatback, and guanciale, which is meat from the cheek of the pig that’s been cured. M was making the cure mixture for the new batch of cheeks, and while I didn’t see the whole recipe, I know there was freshly ground nutmeg and cloves in there. It smelled like Christmas.

I also made a batch of Sherry Vinaigrette before I left: shallots, El Mjuelo Vinagre de Jerez, honey, Dijon mustard, extra virgin olive oil, and thyme. It was really good—I’ll probably try to recreate that one at home. I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp of what really good vinaigrette should taste like.


Foodie Word of the Day

Guanciale [gwahn-TCHAH-leh] Meat from the cheek of a pig, guanciale (from guancia, meaning cheek) is rubbed lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper or chili pepper, then cured for three months. It is very common in the cooking of central Italy, particularly Latium, where it flavors numerous pasta sauces. Since it is rarely available outside Italy, pancetta - an Italian cured meat similar to bacon but not smoked - can be used instead. Bacon will do in a pinch.

Definition compliments of La Cucina Italiana On Line.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Internship: Day 7, 10/24/05

Nice, relatively relaxed day, but I felt really fuzzy for most of it. Maybe it was just the overcast weather, I don’t know. I was responsible for all of the cold appetizers today, and I think I did okay. I’m getting more of a grasp of the dishes, but I still don’t have much of a flow on the line as far as timing goes. T still pretty much has to orchestrate and let me know when I should do what. He’s also started teaching me how to set up before service. Again, it’s a lot of information and I’m not sure how I’ll ever get it straight.

A previous intern from the CIA came in for lunch, and a lot of effort was put into making special dishes for him. It was fun to watch the Sous Chef dress up the dishes. A food writer was also in, and that caused a little bit of commotion. He came and complemented the staff on a job well done, though, so a good impression must have been made.

After service I helped with the pig-picking and patty-making for a party. I actually watched D butcher the pig last Wednesday. It was pretty freaky watching him cut the head off, and then having a little pig face staring up at me from the table while I worked. It looked like it was smiling. I kept thinking of Babe. Oddly, I like butchering—I like participating in the food preparation as early in the process as possible (although I don’t know if I would be able to kill an animal). That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s comfortable—I just like having the knowledge.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Internship: Day 6, 10/19/05

Second day on the line, and I actually felt I had a little more of a grasp on things. I studied the menu and the prep sheet before going in, and I was able to remember more of what went with what. I’ve got the Endive Salad down (although I forgot the endive the first couple of times): endive with baby lettuces, potato, dijon, pancetta, and poached egg. I had a lot of trouble with the poached egg that goes on top, though. We keep a pot of simmering water, mixed with a little vinegar, on the back stove. When the salad comes up, the first thing that you do (which I also kept forgetting) is grab an egg, swirl the water, and drop the egg in. The swirling helps keep the egg compact. You then assemble the salad, mix it, and plate it. The egg perches on top. I tended to either break the egg trying to get it out of the water or onto the salad, or if I did manage to get it onto the salad intact, it often rolled off when I placed it on the counter for pickup. T says I have a nice hand with presentation, though—Chef likes the presentation to be tight with a fair amount of height, and I think I’m getting that down. My first career was graphic design, so I’m very visual—making things pretty is almost second nature. Making things pretty quickly is a little tougher, but that’s probably the least intimidating thing about this work. The hard part is keeping everything straight and organized, remembering all of the orders, and the timing. It’s like a dance, and I still have two left feet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wine and Beverage: Day 3, 10/18/05

Wine Quote of the Day

"God in His goodness sent the grapes, to cheer both great and small; little fools will drink too much, and great fools not at all."



In this class we discussed New World wines of the U.S.: California, Oregon, and Washington. Highlights from the class are below, and you can view a PDF of my full notes here.


New World Wines: Wines of the U.S.


  • The vast majority (approximately 90%) of wines produced in the U.S. come from California. California produces some of the most prestigious wines in the New World.
  • There are about 850 wineries and approximately 89 distinct AVA’s within California’s five major wine producing regions.
  • Because of the influence of the cold Pacific waters, vineyards up and down the coast and as far inland as 200 miles in some areas, are beneficially cooled to help create fine wine grapes.
  • Cabernet and Chardonnay are two of the most significant grapes grown in California, and are grown by almost every winery.

Wine-growing Regions

  1. North Coast
    An important and extensive grape growing region north of San Francisco that includes Napa, Sonoma, Lake, and Mendocino counties. This region produces the best wines.
  2. Central Coast
    A large growing area extending south from San Francisco to Santa Barbara.
  3. Sierra Foothills
    Home of the legendary gold rush of 1849. This region contains smaller producers—it’s too warm for great wine.
  4. South Coast
    Best known for Hollywood and its beaches.
  5. Central Valley
    Largest producer of wine grapes in California, but not as many wineries. This is California’s agricultural land that stretches almost 500 miles down the center of the state.

Map compliments of Boisset America.


  • Oregon’s northern latitude brings long hours of summer sunshine to its vineyards as the marine breezes help moderate the climate, causing the ripening process for the grapes to be gradual.
  • The northwest portion of Oregon is celebrated for cool-climate grape varieties including:
    - Pinot Gris
    - Riesling
    - Chardonnay
    - Pinot Noir

Wine-growing Regions

  1. Willamette Valley (will-AM-et)
    Oregon’s most famous and largest wine-growing region. Known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc, which have all won praises throughout the world.
  2. Umpqua Valley (UHMP-kwah)
    Located in bweeen the Willamette Valley and the Rogue Valley. Burgundy-style grapes predominate.
  3. Rogue River Valley
    Warmer than most other parts of Oregon. Best known for its Chardonnay and Cabernet.
  4. Applegate Valley
    Heat-oriented varietals thrive here: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Syrah. Wines are often intense and full-bodied, less fruit-forward.

Map compliments of Korbrand Wine.


  • Washington is located approximately the same latitude (46?N) as the French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
  • The most significant and highest selling wines are Merlot and Chardonnay.
  • 98% of the wine grapes in Washington are grown on the east side of the state.

Wine-growing Regions

  1. Columbia Valley
    Washington’s most significant region. Merlot grape vines prosper in the long sunny days and chilly nights producing wines that tend to be rich with ripe cherry flavors that are lively with acidity.
  2. Yakima Valley
    Diverse climate, well suited for Cabernet, Chardonnay, Syrah, and Merlot.
  3. Walla Walla
    Remote region that is setting the standard for Cabernet and Merlot.
  4. Puget Sound
    Cool climate. Pinot Noir and the more adaptable Pinot Gris grow best.

Map compliments of Korbrand Wine.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Internship: Day 5, 10/17/05

My first day on the line, and it wasn’t bad, but I can’t imagine ever being able to do this by myself. They all assure me that I’ll get the hang of it, and that they felt the same way when they first started out—but still, it seems a daunting task and it wasn’t even that busy.

The nice part is that the lunch guys are all really nice and very supportive. Lunch seems to be a lot less stressful in general, so I think they’re able to enjoy it more. It’s also nice being upstairs where there’s windows and natural light instead of always being in the basement prep kitchen.

T gave me an overview of the dishes that the pantry side of the line is responsible for—all of the hot and cold appetizers as well as the daily soup. There are nine dishes total. I plated some salads, and helped out with some of the hot dishes. T gave me a copy of the prep list to look over—it’s an overwhelming amount of information since each dish has a number of ingredients, but hopefully it’ll start to stick soon.

After service, I did some standard prep work. I also made up a Green Goddess Dressing for a private party happening that night, which included avocado, eggs, lemon, lime, champagne vinegar, cream, extra virgin olive oil, shallots, and a variety of herbs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Internship: Day 4, 10/12/05

So these are the days that you hear about when people talk about the hell of staging and internships. It started out well—D2 was making some fabulous french toast with boysenberry compote and fresh whipped cream when I came in. Much more appetizing than the scone I’d picked up at Starbucks on the way in. But then I spent much of the day making 50 lbs. of sauerkraut. It took me 3 or 4 hours to cut and slice (on the slicer) an entire case of cabbage. Chef kept coming through and laughing, saying he thought this must be a world’s record for slicing. By the time I was finished, the entire right side of my body ached. Once that was done, I took the cabbage and layered it with a cup of salt, and 2-3 juniper berries per layer. Then I had to take a huge masher and press the layered cabbage until enough juice was released to cover the mixture. At this point I asked D, “You guys hate me don’t you?” He laughed and assured me that they don’t, and said that he’d had to do this three times last year. Once the cabbage was all pressed (D helped), we put it into a bucket, put a weight on it, wrapped the whole thing in multiple layers of plastic, and set it on a shelf. It will continue to sit and ferment for an entire month.

My next job was deveining and mashing piles of foie gras to be used for a foie gras terrine. I was only about halfway through the pile at 6pm. D took pity on me as he was leaving and said he’d finish the other half the next day. I was so glad, because I had plans for later that night and was happy not to have to forego them. On Monday, I’ll have my first day on the line. I’ll be working with T on cold pantry for lunch. Lunch seems very mellow, and T knows what it’s like to be new (he was staging, too, until very recently) so it shouldn’t be too stressful. I’m looking forward to it!

The second bright spot of the day: D2 took the leftover french toast slices, diced it, and made french toast ice cream, which most of us took a break to devour. It’s really cool that they let the staff experiment when they have time. Y was working on a new dish all day, and is going to be attempting a pumpkin aioli in the near future. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Wine and Beverage: Day 2, 10/11/05

Wine Quote of the Day

“In Europe, we thought of wine as something healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication, nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.”

—Ernest Hemingway. A Moveable Feast


In this class we discussed some of the differences between New World and Old World wine classifications and labeling. We also tasted wines from each of six primary grape varietals:

Big Six (Lightest to Fullest)

1. Riesling
2. Sauvignon Blanc
3. Chardonnay

4. Pinot Noir
5. Merlot
6. Cabernet

Highlights from the class are below, and you can view a PDF of my full notes here.

Answers to the “What Do You Know?” test here.

Also, I’ve started an overview of the varietals here: Red and White. This will expand as we cover more of the varietals in class.



New World classification: Varietal (Merlot, Cabernet)

Old World classification: Geographical (France, Bordeaux, Medoc)

Wine classification is generally broad for generic, lesser quality wines and specific for complex, higher quality wines.


  • Applied to New World wines.
  • Grape listed on bottle is regulated.
  • In California and Washington the wine must contain at least 75% of the specified varietal.
  • In Oregon, the specified varietal must be 90%.
  • In Alsace, France the specified varietal must be 100%

Lower required percentages allow vintners to compensate for weaknesses in the wine.


  • Applied to Old World wines.
  • Wines are usually named after the region in which the grapes are grown.

Generic (Jug-Based)

  • The names of American wines in this category are unrelated to the geographic location or varietal origin and have no relationship to European wines using the same designation.
  • Jug-Based wines consist of a blend of different grapes and are often of lower quality than grapes that compose varietal wines.


  • In California, wine makers have been producing wine styled after Bordeaux. “Meritage” (pronounced like “heritage”) is typically the name given to these wines. They’re generally made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, with the balance being varying quantitites of other Bordeau-style grapes.


Elements of Viticulture

It’s estimated that there are as many as 10,000 strains, clones, and hybrids of Vinifera grapes. Only about 30-40 of those grapes varieties are actually used.

1. Grape Varietal
The type of grape is probably the single most important factor in the taste of the wine. The flavor is also affected by:

  • the age of the vines
  • soil composition
  • exposure to sun, rain, climates, and microclimates
  • grape handling and fermentation
  • type of yeast used
  • aging, use of wood

The same varietal can be grown in different parts of the world and create different-tasting wines.

2. Climate (Weather and Location)
Wine grapes grow best in temperate climates. The challenge is to ensure enough acid in the juice to balance the sugar content.

  • Warm climates = more sugar, higher alcohol content
    Too much sugar = flabby, flat wine
  • Cool climates (i.e. Burgundy) = more acid, less sugar, lower alcohol content
    Too much acid = sour, overly crisp wine

Some regions are allowed to practice “chapitalization,” adding additional sugar to the wine.

3. Soil
Unlike most crops, which require rich, fertile soil, most grapes make better wine if grown in poor, rocky soil with good drainage. Soil types that are ideal for specific varieties include gravel, sand, limestone, and clay.

Appellations and Regions

  • The French term “Appellation” refers to a viticultural region distinguished by geographical features which produce wines with shared characteristics.
  • In 1935, France set up the Appellation D’Origine Controlle (AOC) laws, a countrywide system based on geography for controlling the origin and quality of wine. These strict guidelines specified vineyard location, grape varietal, growing technique, crop yeield, grape ripeness and ensuing alcohol content and winemaking practices.
  • In the U.S., appellations are known as “American Viticultural Areas” (AVAs). American labels may identify a wine’s AVA when a minimum of 85% of the wine comes from that location.

4. Plowing, Planting, and Pruning

  • In most Vinifera vineyards, cuttings of the desired varieties are grafted onto Vitis Labrusca.
  • Pruning creates less yield, higher quality.

5. Picking
Grapes ripen in late summer or early fall, depending on the grape varietal, climate, and desired qualities of the finished wine. The overall goal is to balance the sugar and acidity of the wine.



1. Harvest and Pressing/Crushing

  • Grapes are put into the crushing/destemming machine.
  • Juice (free run) is now separated or drained from skins, pulp, juice, and seeds (must).
  • Free run is transferred to oak barrel or stainless steel vat.
  • Must is pressed in order to extract more juice (second pressing).
  • Residue is called “pommace” (sometimes made into Grappa).

2. Fermentation and Maceration

  • White powdery film on grape skin contains yeast (called bloom). Yeast eventually breaks down sugar into CO2 and alcohol. Some vintners use purchased yeast rather than bloom, which can be unpredictable.
  • Temperature control during fermentation is critical. Too much heat creates characterless, unstructured wine with too little fruit. Temperatures that are too cold lead to low sugar and alcohol content.
  • When grapes are pressed, juice is allowed to remain in contact with skin and seeds for a period of time. Skin = tannins, color, and flavor.
  1. Color: Wine color depends on contact time with skin.
  2. Tannin: “Phenolic Compounds” are a group of astringent substances found in the skins, seeds, and stems, as well as in oak barrels. Tannin provides structure, texture, and ageability.
  3. Flavor: More complex flavors and aromas are present due to the release of “flavanoids” from skins and seeds.
  • Fermentation stops with sugar is gone or alcohol level reaches 15%.

3. Secondary (Malolactic) Fermentation

  • Malo (fruit) Lactic (milk)
  • Most red wines and some white wines undergo a second fermentation by bacteria called malolactic fermentation (abbreviated ML).

4. Clarification

  1. After fermentation is complete, the wine is allowed to settle and the residue separates.
  2. Wine is periodically drained from the dead yeast cells (lees) in a process called “racking.”
  3. Wine can also be filtered through “centrifuging” (spinning) or “fining” (using egg white or other protein to remove impurities.
  4. Clarification softens tannins.

5. Aging

  • Method of aging depends on desired style.

    - Aging in oak barrels adds spice, vanilla, and other smoky flavors. The strength of these flavors depends on how long the wine is aged. Some wines are ages for several years to soften harsh tannins and to allow desirable flavors to develop.

    - Aging in stainless steel tanks preserves the grape flavor and fruit aromas.

6. Blending

  • Some wines are blended with one or more varietals to add complexity or style before bottling.
  • Other wines may skip this process depending on the desired style.

7. Bottling

  • Wines are usually held for a few weeks to recover from “bottle shock,” a condition that causes a temporary loss of delicate aromatics.
  • Bottles are sealed to prevent any oxygen from entering and destroying the wine.
  • If desired, wine will be “bottle aged” in order to integrate wine components and add extra complexity.


White Wine Grapes

Primarily green or white in color, about 50 major white grapes are grown worldwide, 24 in California alone.

Major Varietals

  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay

Other Varietals

  • Chenin Blanc
  • Gewürtzraminer
  • Muscat
  • Pinot Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Pinot Gris
  • Viognier

Ramge of Color (Young to Old)

Green Tint > Straw Yellow > Golden Yellow > Light Brown > Brown Amber

  1. Green Tint: Young, fruity, immature. 6 months to 1 year from harvest.
  2. Straw Yellow: Majority of whites. 1 to 3 years from harvest.
  3. Golden Yellow: Mature, 3 to 5 years. Probably aged in oak.
  4. Light Brown: 5 to 10 years.
  5. Brown Amber: Past its useful life, likely to be oxidized.

Red Wine Grapes

Primarily red, purple, or black in color, about 40 major red grapes are grown worldwide.

Major Varietals

  1. Pinot Noir
  2. Merlot
  3. Cabernet Sauvignon

Other Varietals

  • Barbera
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Dolcetto
  • Gamay
  • Grenache
  • Malbec
  • Nebbiolo
  • Petite Syrah
  • Sangiovese
  • Syrah/Shiraz
  • Tempranillo
  • Zinfandel

Ramge of Color (Young to Old)

Purple > Ruby > Red > Brick Red > Brownish Amber

  1. Purple: Young, fruity, immature. 6 months to 1 year from harvest.
  2. Ruby: Majority of reds. 1 to 3 years from harvest.
  3. Red: 3 to 5 years.
  4. Light Brown: Mature, 5 to 10 years.
  5. Brown Amber: Past its useful life, likely to be oxidized.

Rosé Wines (roh-ZAY)

Made from red, purple or black grapes.

  • Often referred to as “blush” or pink wines. Blush wines are typically made from red grapes.
  • The color comes from red grape skins. Winemakers shorten the contact time of the skins and juice after crushing (typically 2-3 days).
  • The most well-known rosé wines are made in Provence (praw-VAHNSS) and Tavel (ta-VEHL), France. Rarely complex and never ages, rosé wines are totally dry or barely sweet, tart and fruity.
  • White Zinfandel is an American twist on rosé that is engineered to be sweet.

Fruit Wines

  • Some of the most popular fruit wines include red raspberry, blackberry, and cherry.
  • Often the fermentation takes place under cold conditions to maximize the retention of the fruit’s character.
  • Well-made fruit wines are a delicate balance between the fruit’s natural acidity and residual sugar. If the finished wine is too sweet, it tends to be cloying; too dry, and it’s astringent.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Internship: Day 3, 10/10/05

First day coming in at 9am, and it was nice. It was just me and D and the lunch crew; dinner crew doesn’t come in until around noon. I made more Bouillabaisse, then pulled pork and formed it into little patties for the confit of suckling pig appetizer.

Towards the end of the day I made up some marinades:

Star Anise Steak Marinade
Star anise, peppercorns, oil, rice wine vinegar, Mirin, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper.

Pork Marinade
Garlic, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, and olive oil.

Roasted Garlic Sturgeon Marinade
Canola oil, roasted garlic, Herbes d’Provence, chili flakes, salt, black pepper, bay leaves, sweet wine vinegar, orange juice, and orange zest.

One note of interest: instead of roasting garlic in the oven, they confit it by placing it in olive oil on top of the stove and keeping it at a low simmer until tender.

Foodie Word of the Day

Confit [kohn-FEE; kon-FEE] This specialty of Gascony, France, is derived from an ancient method of preserving meat (usually goose, duck or pork) whereby it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. The cooked meat is then packed into a crock or pot and covered with its cooking fat, which acts as a seal and preservative. Confit can be refrigerated up to 6 months. Confit d’oie and confit de canard are preserved goose and preserved duck, respectively.

Definition compliments of the New Food Lover’s Companion.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Internship: Day 2, 10/05/05

So I came in on Day 2, and D, Sous Chef #1 and the one who arranged my internship, wasn’t in yet. I asked J, Sous Chef #2, what I should do and he gave me some huge slabs of frozen fatback to trim and cut into 1 lb. pieces. I was having a terrible time, and both K2 and S took pity on my struggles and helped me figure out the easiest and quickest way to trim the frozen fat. They also pointed out how dull my knife was. I’d had it sharpened a few weeks ago, but K2 recommended that I have it sharpened at least twice a week, and she also corrected my honing technique (my angle was a little wide), which seemed to help a little. D informed me later that there’s a stone I can use at Quake, and he’ll show me how to use it. I also have a stone at home—I brought my knife kit home with me so that I can sharpen up all my knives. I’ll double-check with him that I’m doing it correctly when I go back in on Monday.

D had come in during the fatback ordeal, and when I’d finished he let me know that he’d like me to make Bouillabaisse again, with a couple of changes. It would be for a special event rather than the main menu, so everything needed to be cut smaller. Also, I used the fennel tops as well as the bulbs, and lemon juice as well as orange juice in the fumet mirepoix. One of my biggest problems is lack of speed, and since I’d followed this recipe once already, I was hoping to do it in less time. However, while everything seemed to go more smoothly this time, I’m not sure that I was much faster.

Once I was done with the soup, D had me clean about four bags of mussels to be steamed the next day. This was during service, and I was in the prep kitchen while most everyone else was upstairs on the line. They had the Sox game on and it seemed to annoy everyone, including the Chef, that I never knew what the score was when they came in and asked. I really hate sports, and they all seemed bewildered by that. Once the mussels were done, I was finished and free to go. D and I discussed my schedule—I didn’t make my expected 20 hours this week, so I’m going to start coming in at 9am next Monday so that I can help with early prep work. That works out well, although I hate getting up early. I’m also going to be working the dinner line at some point, which should be sufficiently harrowing.

One of the things I’m going to have to work out is how to eat enough while I’m there. It seems like it should be easy, working in a restaurant and all, but I’m trying to take advantage of the fact that I don’t have any cooking classes this quarter and reign in my diet. The staff on the lunch line is generally willing to make you some food if you ask, but it’s usually something like fries with Béarnaise sauce. Really good, but not what I should be eating on a regular basis. This week I brought organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread (homemade!) with me, but I think the problem is that I’ve been waiting too long to eat. I’m usually woozy and exhausted by 6pm (start time 12pm), so I’m thinking I need to snack around 4pm to keep my energy up. Whatever—I’ll work it out. One of my goals as I learn to cook is to keep my diet healthy, even though I will be making and tasting a lot of rich food. I know it can be done—Chef Felsenthal, my teacher for all my cooking classes so far except Baking and Pastry, has an excellent diet. For me, it makes a big difference in how I feel and how much energy I have. Everything in moderation and I’m cool!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Wine and Beverage: Day 1, 10/04/05

Wine Word of the Day

Veraison [ver-ray-ZON] The point in the growing season when ripening grapes begin to soften and change color from green to either red or yellow, depending on the variety. In the northern hemisphere, veraison typically occurs anywhere from late June to mid August, depending on the climate.

Definition compliments of the New Wine Lover’s Companion.


I was concerned about my Wine and Beverage class because I found out on Monday that the fabulous Bob Bansberg, Sommelier at Ambria, was no longer teaching it. I’d heard such good things about him, and was really looking forward to his class. However, the new teacher, John Laloganes, seems like a fine replacement. He’s entertaining, and it looks like he knows his stuff. It sounds like he has a variety of experience: management, wine, and general restaurant. I also found out (through the wonder that is Google, of course) that he used to be a manager at the Green Mill. How cool!

So the first day was pretty much a general introduction to wine—it’s history, a little bit about how it’s made, types, and bottle shapes. We also watched a documentary on the Mafia and Prohibition, which was fun.

We took a “what do you know?” test, which I’ve uploaded as a PDF. Feel free to download it and see how well you do. I only got about five right and didn’t have a clue about most of it, which was pretty normal for our class and pretty much what he expected. I’ll post the answers next week!

Below is a little of the information I gleaned in class. You can view a PDF of my full notes here.

Wine Classifications

Wine: Fermented juice of grapes (unless otherwise specified). You can substitute fruit or vegetables, but 99.9% of all wine is made from grapes.

Table Wine: Wine containing no added alcohol. Alcoholic content of table wine must be between 8-14% alcohol.

Sparkling Wine: Table wine that contains large amounts of dissolved CO2 (carbonation). No added alcohol.

Fortified Wine: Table wine with extra alcohol added. Fortified wine must contain between 17% and 22% alcohol.

- Aperitif: Fortified wine which has no apparent sweetness; drunk before dinner.

- Dessert: Sweet; drunk after dinner.

Old World vs. New World Wines

Old World: France, Italy, Spain Germany

New World: U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, South Africa

Top Five Wine Producers:
1. Italy (traditionally not necessarily quality wines, but that’s changing)
2. France
3. Spain
4. U.S.
5. Argentina

World Consumption of Wine:
1. France
2. Italy
3. U.S.
(although it’s low per capita – the small percentage that drink wine drink a lot!)

4. Germany
5. Spain

Bottle Shapes

Resources here:

Wine Doctor
West Coast Wine

I also used the information (and images) off of both of those sites, combined them with my class notes, and created a PDF here.


Recommended Wine Resources

Exploring Wine, 2nd Edition
This was listed as our class textbook. It ended up being optional, but I had already gotten it and probably would have gotten it regardless. I’m making my way through the first chapter, which covers the wine-growing process (which sounds amazingly complicated), and the primary varietals of wine (I’ve just started on the whites). This book is where I got the Wine Word of the Day (although the definition came from my next recommendation.

The New Wine Lover’s Companion
This book was recommended to me a few times over. It’s basically a dictionary of wine.

The Wine Goddess
If you’re in the Chicago area, come take a class with Diana—she’s fabulous. She’s the wine buyer and instructor at the Chopping Block, the cooking store where I work (I’m using the real names in this instance, obviously). I assist a lot of the wine classes, and they’re really a lot of fun.

I absolutely love podcasts, and this is a great one about wine. It was featured on Eat Feed, my favorite foodie podcast.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Internship: Day 1, 10/03/05

I’ve been staging at Quake since June, so I don’t know why I was so nervous about starting my internship, but I was. The staff all seemed to be in a good mood when I came in, though, and welcomed me back (I took a break for the week I was out of school). That made me feel more at ease.

It was, actually, an unusual day in the kitchen. One Sous Chef was on vacation, and the other had gone to the hospital that morning with some diabetic complications. K had been called in to take charge of the kitchen, and though I’m sure it was extremely stressful for her, she was amazingly calm.

My first task of the day was a Garlic Aioli. I’ve made mayonnaise a few times, and an aioli once. They’re basically the same thing, the difference being in the addition of garlic, but I hadn’t made either of them in a while. Of course it broke, which had never happened to me before. K showed me how to repair the emulsion by removing the broken aioli, putting a couple more egg yolks into the food processor and then streaming the broken aioli back in, just as you do with the original oil. The emulsion became a little thick about halfway through, so she instructed me to add a little water to thin it back out, and then to continue adding in the rest of the broken aioli. It worked!

A note on the definitions of mayonnaise and aioli from my Garde Manger textbook, Garde Manger: The Art and Craft of the Cold Kitchen, 2nd Edition (because I wasn’t sure myself until I looked it up):

Aïoli (Fr.): Garlic mayonnaise, often based on olive oils.

Mayonnaise: A cold emulsion sauce made of oil, egg yolks, vinegar, mustard, and seasonings.

My second task, creating Bouillabaisse for the night’s service, was much more complicated than anything else I’ve ever done at Quake. I think K gave it to me partially because it kept me occupied for the entire day. I first created the fish fumet (fish broth) by sweating a white mirepoix (onions, carrots, celery, bay leaves, and in this case, orange juice and fennel bulbs), adding in fish bones, then white wine, and covering it with water. I brought it to a low boil, turned off the heat, and let it sit while I prepared the remaining ingredients: more fennel and onions, red potatoes, garlic, canned Italian tomatoes, saffron, Pernod, sriracha, parsley, and thyme. The fennel, onions, potatoes, and garlic were sweated, and then the tomatoes and saffron were added and allowed to cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. The strained fumet went in and was again brought to a low boil. The remaining ingredients were added after we brought the pot down to cool in an ice bath.

The whole Bouillabaisse experience was stressful but exciting. The thing that I hate most about being at this beginning point in my career is that I always feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, and constantly have to ask questions. I vaguely remember that feeling as a designer, but often I was able to get answers on my own because I had internet access and books. In a kitchen I only have the knowledge that’s in my head, and often, even when I think I know the answer I second guess myself and ask to make sure. I feel like I must be driving everyone crazy, but what do you do?

My day ended earlier than expected as they had a stage in that was covering the amuse bouche station, and there wasn’t really much else for me to do. While I was concerned about getting enough hours to fill my internship requirements, I was also somewhat relieved because making bouillabaisse wore me out! There was a lot of running back and forth between the prep kitchen and the pastry kitchen on the third floor (I was using their stove), lugging huge stock pots and trays of ingredients, and just the general stress of doing something for the first time. It was fun, though, and made for an interesting first day.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Intro Post

This blog is intended to document my experience as a culinary student. I started out at the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago about a year ago, and I have about a year to go. It’s a career change—I already had a BA from Columbia College in Chicago, and was a graphic designer for about 10 years. I quit my office job this past May so that I could focus on cooking. I just wasn’t passionate enough about design, and I hated the 9 to 5 office routine. My very supportive boyfriend is covering the majority of the bills so that I can work for cheap and free, gathering as much experience as I can in as short a time as I can. He’s a restaurant manager, and my goal is to be at a high enough skill level that we can open our own place by the time I’m 40—only 7.5 years away!

Currently, I work at a cooking store where I assist the cooking classes and I’m also interning at one of the high end restaurants here in Chicago. I’ve decided not to use actual names, so I’ve dubbed the restaurant Quake. I have to keep a journal of the internship, so I will post a lot of that here, but I also plan to add information from my other classes (Wine and Beverage this quarter) and general information about what I’m doing and learning. I don’t expect much of a readership, really, but I’m hoping to create a resource for other beginning cooks, and it seems like a lot of the information that we learn in culinary school isn’t really passed on to the home cook. This could be one of those things that I really want to have time for but don’t, but we’ll just see how it goes.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Internship: Day 19, 12/07/05

I don’t know if everybody’s just in a good mood because of the upcoming holidays, or if I’m just melding into the swing of things, but everything's going really well. Because it was freezing outside, we only had 10 people on the books, so they sent the grill guy home and we all shifted. M took the grill, T took sauté, and I had garde manger all to myself. It was a little busier than expected, but it all went really smoothly. T still kept jumping in to help but I could have handled it myself—which was nice to know. Also, we served the butternut squash soup I made and the baking and pastry girls raved about it—very cool.