Today, was the moment of truth. It was our final day at the Institute of Culinary Education, the restaurant simulation. Everyone was incredibly nervous: we had to create a restaurant with floor plan, hours, menus, etc, and cook three or more items from that menu in three hours. We needed to professionally plate a servomg of each item, and the rest would be served buffet style to the other students and judges. Now I will finally reveal my group, The Cookie Monsters’, restaurant- Petit Chou in downtown San Francisco. Our restaurant was an upscale, French-American fusion restaurant serving brunch, closing, then reopening for dinner. We have a seasonal menu and try to use local, fresh ingredients. The outside of our imaginary place had cream painted wood panels, large windows, glass double doors, and crawling ivy on the outside walls. The building would be two stories with half open rooftop seating. The inside was mainly decorated with cream shades, and the seating varied between chairs and couches around the tables. The hostess would not have a podium, so that she could more openly greet the guests, and the uniforms would be white button downs embroidered with our logo, black slacks, and a black half apron with our logo again.
From our menu, we made fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cream cheese and pine nuts, Sharon’s idea. French onion soup, a unanimous decision. Roasted duck with a cherry wine sauce, my idea and baby. Beignets with a side of chocolate ganache for dessert, and basil lemonade for a drink (my idea again). From our brunch menu we also made another one of my ideas, a brioche french toast sandwiched with a sweetened vanilla mascarpone filling, then topped with sugar that’s blow torched until it caramelizes. Also know as Creme Brûlée French Toast, or Pain Perdue a la Creme Brûlée. The zucchini blossoms were crisp and creamy in the middle, ultra delicious and savory. The wine in the french onion soup really came through, and like the judges said, you could tell it was made with love- kudos to my buddy Alicia. The duck came out so delicously, juicy, and tender, it was my first time cooking duck. Giulia was my partner on that project out of our group. You could even taste the thyme in the cherry wine sauce. The beignets were made by my roomate the lovely Savannah with assistance from Jade, and the ganache by Sophia. Super yummy. The lemonade was the only guy in the group, Chase’s, with help fom Sophia. In tasting along the way it was delicious, but somehow we think salt made its way in, because it was definitely detectable. The french toast was among the most popular as well, it was sweet and creamy and oh-so-good! I’ll definitely be making it at home from now on. All and all, our food turned out spectacularly. We then gave our presentation to the panel of four judges: Steve Zagor, a professional restaurant planner, one of the heads of the NSLC program, and our culinary supervisor throughout the 10 days Cecelia. Now, we have to wait until tomorrow to find out the winner. The other groups proposed The Living Room– an uoscale comfort food place in Pittsburgh with dark woods and a massive fireplace, and Cinagro- organic spelled backwards. Their idea was all organic, a greenhouse in the restaurant, local, recyclable, etc, placed in Napa Valley. We’re all anxiously awaiting the results.
Afterwards we had free time in Union Square and at the Green Market. Unfortunately, everything at the Green Market was so fresh that there wasn’t much that I could take home if I bought anything. So we went to H&M and picked out clothes for one of the culinary guys who asked our opinions, and then went to a bakery called Breads. There I ate a small sandwich on a roll with cream cheese and lox, bought a chocolate babka, a chocolate mousse tart, and an Argentinian cookie that’s sandwiched with a dulce de leche filling and coated in milk chocolate. The sandwich was better than I expected, it was also half off due to the time of day. The mousse tart was very rich and good with a soft crust. The cookie was good but very sweet.
Tonight we had our last leadership session, in which we all shared what we had discovered about ourselves through the program. After that we had a super fun dance party social as well. Sort of sad that we’re all going home tomorrow, but I also think I’m ready to head on back.