Thursday, June 17, 2010

finals schminals...

I'm in the midst of finals week which is why you haven't heard from me in a while. My written final is over (I think it went well) and my practical final is tomorrow. And I am stressin'!

We have 2 1/2 hours to make a three-course meal, which doesn't sound like that much but, trust me, it is. We have to make Beef Vegetable Soup, Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons, Boneless Chicken Legs stuffed with a Mushroom Stuffing, Sauteed French Chicken Breasts, Mushroom Sauce, Duchess Potatoes (which are like mashed potatoes piped into little towers and baked) and - wait for it - TOURNEED carrots, zucchini and squash. Ugh. You knew the tournee had to be in there somewhere.

I practiced at home yesterday (for the bazillionth time) and finished in 2 hours and 26 minutes - but that was in my tiny little kitchen. And I burned the croutons :( Poor Ken has had enough stuffed chicken and Duchess potatoes to last him a lifetime, and I'm pretty sure that after this final, I'll never make these things again.

Here's a picture (it doesn't look all that exciting on my not-so-fancy Fiestaware):

So I keep asking myself, "why am I so stressed?" I mean, who cares how I do on this final? It's not like people won't eat my food if I didn't get an A on one exam. I think I've done pretty well in the class so far. I bet that even if I didn't show up tomorrow, I'd probably pass. Why the big deal? And really, who even cares if I pass? I'm just doing this for the learning experience - not for a degree.

I'm gonna do my best in the next few hours to shift my focus from the stress of earning a grade to the importance of enjoying the experience. I love to cook so this should be fun. And it can be if I let it.

But there's this perfectionistic side of me that wants to do everything right, even when I know it doesn't matter in the big scheme of things. I guess this experience is not just about learning how to cook, but instead about learning how to live life.

So here it is, my mantra for the next 18 hours: have fun, it's not about the grade....have fun, it's not about the grade. At exactly noon tomorrow my mantra will shift to: I need a drink, where can I get a drink ;)

It will be great to have some time off to relax, cook the things I want to and NOT TOURNEE anything for a very long time.


  1. I always watch those shows like Top Chef and think - wow -that is not a lot of time, but I'm sure you'll do fine. Good luck! And, btw, love the Fiestaware :-).

  2. Amy - I have been exactly where you are. I graduated from that school in October 2005...I am now the corp chef for a 5 restaurant chain here in the the Burgh. I can tell you a couple things that will help ease your mind a good bit.

    1. After you finish these classes you will never be asked by anyone ever to tourne anything at all. EVERYONE feels exactly the same - its a ridiculous waste of time that some chef in school made us do and there is no way your ever going to do that again unless your getting paid bazillions of dollars....and when you do you can afford to pay someone to do it for you...the poor soul.

    2. If youre a good cook, which you say you are & I believe you, then relax and do what you do. Find that rhythm and go. I did that exact practical, and was having one of those days that it clicked and i hummed my way right through it. I grabbed my knife and was just like OH! Cooking!! Oh I got this! and it was fun! 70% of cooking is confidence in yourself. You got this!

    3. Dont forget to breathe & make a list. You know the menu, you know the cook times, you know the prep. List it out and work the list from top to bottom and the clock will not be your enemy.

    Good Luck! I have no doubt you will do just fine...this is a walk in the park!

  3. Looks delicious!!! HAVE FUN!!!

  4. Good luck Amy! And have a blast! It's not about the grade, you are right about that. And, enjoy your post-final drink :)


  5. You shouldn't be talking about and posting pictures of yummy sounding food so early in the morning! LOL!

    Amy, I'm jealous of you. I've wanted to branch out and go to culinary school and do what I love in life rather than my job. Just breathe and enjoy it!

  6. Good Luck! It sounds like you are ready so you will do great!
    Can't wait to hear how it goes.

  7. My sister went to the same culinary school as you - and she has held some great positions as chef throughout the years (although now she is taking time off to spend time with the kids). I bet she remembers tourneeing veggies, but I don't think she has to tournee too much anymore. From the picture, you are an amazing cook - so be easy on yourself! Like you said, have fun! :-) We are all pulling for you!

  8. Love the mantras! Maybe when you ace your degree (I mean...when you're done having fun) can go to bartending school, too. Bet you don't have to tournee the limes. ;) You're gonna kick butt!