Tuesday, June 17, 2008

CAP Test 8 - le dernier examen !

I spent many hours last night cramming for the CAP - studying all the recipes for hot and cold entrées, chicken and fish recipes, and basic pastry. I ended up only getting a couple hours of sleep since I was tossing and turning, and having dreams that I was late to the exam. It wasn't necessary for me to study since we were assigned two recipes that I have never done before. Ultimately, it focused on basic technique which we all learned in school. Just a combination of different ingredients. Natalia and Jessica were there as well for the exam. The techniques required in the recipes were techniques we were already familiar with.

Our recipes:

Feuilleté aux champignons, oeuf cassé

Pavé de cabillaud en croûte d'herbes. Flan d'épinards

The "techniques de realisation" were given. So were the quanties and ingredients. AND, the feuilletage was done, the fish already fileted, the spinach already cooked. ??? It is obvious that the school exams were significantly more challenging. We always do our own feuilletage, filet our own fish, prep everything from scratch.

I was quite relieved actually - that means I could relax during the exam. I had been seriously stressing myself out over it. Oh yes, and I cut through my nail on my left thumb. Within 10 minutes of the exam. (Remember this?) One of the chefs kept asking if I was okay - I think it looked worse than it was. Just a bit bloody. Afterwards, various chefs kept stopping by to pick up my Japanese knife and check it out. hahahaha

Natalia, Jessica, and I all worked slower than usual since many of the things were already prepped. We took our time to prepare our dishes and still realized we were quite ahead of everyone else. And we noticed that for the duxelles, a good chunk of the other test-takers cut them into quarters. Strange.

Simple as they are, I was quite proud of how pretty my poached eggs were. One of the other students ended up taking them off my bench. I freaked out for a bit and was like where the F are my eggs?! I saw them on his bench. Right next to his plaque. Why on earth would you take two plaques of eggs when one is clearly not yours?! I mean seriously. I got them back just in time as he was going to steal them and put them on his plate. Later on, he ended up breaking every single one of his poached eggs on his presentation plate. Bad karma (Just kidding)

From the advice of my chef, I spent extra time making sure I was extremely well organized and clean. I made some mistakes such as not cooking the dehydrated mushrooms long enough, not adding enough herbs to the Croûte d'herbes, forgetting to hacher the spinach (stupid!), and the sauce for the fish dish was too salty. And because my sauce was way too salty, I only put a little line of sauce rather than drowning the fish with sauce, the way it is supposed to be plated traditionally. Otherwise, I feel that I did okay on the exam.

My first dish was very neatly presented and well-seasoned. I got a good "gratinée on my cod en croûte. I made the mistake of making the croûte too thick one time in school for a lamb recipe - it didn't gratinée well and it was apparent that there was a block of unmelted croûte on top of rack of lamb. Thankfully, I learned from my mistake - this time I made it uber thin - it coated and "gratinée" perfectly (almost perfectly - nothing is perfect!) Many of the other test-takers made the same mistake I did the first time.

The few extra seconds it took to stay propre and organized paid off. When the exam was finished, it really took me a good 5+ minutes to clean my station. A lot of the other stations were serious bordels. It took a few students like 20 minutes to clean their poste. It's amazing that even if you spare a few seconds during each task to stay organized, in the end, it helps you become more efficient.

During the interview at the end, I had to explain the dishes and techniques of how I cooked them in French to two chefs. One of the chefs was from Ferrandi. The other chef asked me where I was from and I said the U.S. I don't think he liked Americans. (Typically, I say California first since I have gotten 100% positive response from the French.) He kept making comments about Americans in a negative manner.

Do Americans eat it like this? Americans always say 'ok' to everything. In America they do this? In America blah blah blah.

One question he asked me was how I could have made my sauce less salty. I gave him my answer and he said "non!" And then he gave me his answer which was the same thing I had just said but in a different way. ??? Then he proceeded to scoff at me, roll his eyes at me, then look at the other chef, laugh and roll his eyes about how much of an idiot I was. Good times =)

They also brought up the presentation of my fish dish. I told them that I knew that traditionally, I was supposed to put a generous amount of sauce underneath the fish, but it was way too salty so I only put a little line. (The line of sauce is considered "gastro" plating). I would rather not plate traditionally than have them gag on my super salty sauce. hahaha!

Anyway, it was a good experience. At the end of my interview, the Ferrandi chef was organizing my papers and I quickly got a glance at my score sheet. I got quite a few "très bien" and "bien. It was a nice feeling. I had doubts about taking the CAP because of the amount of extra time and stress, but I am glad I did it. I mean really, I have nothing to lose right? I am SO GLAD IT'S OVER! I think I had a total of 11 exams including the ones at school.

After this exam, I really appreciated the time and dedication my chef gave to us in terms of teaching technique and organisation. I feel it really paid off and I am actually thankful for all the times he told me to cut things over again, clean up my shit, organize my bench better, make things "more regular and more sexy," and overall have better taillage, etc. I know that know matter what, you can always be better. You can never stop learning in this industry. That is the beauty of it.

1 comment:

Rafael Donnay said...

Ferrandi Snob in the hizzay kicks CAP's ass.