Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Afternoon at Le Cordon Bleu

Just for a moment yesterday, I imagined myself as a student at Le Cordon Bleu. Then I saw the otherwise jovial chef almost lose it when one of his assistants inadvertently threw out the jus for the roast chicken he'd been working on for the two hours previous. In that moment, I decided that I was just where I needed to be: sitting comfortably in a desk watching a demonstration of incredible cooking with no illusions that I would ever be able to pull off such a meal.

The Cordon Bleu cooking school certainly knows where the money is: putting on cooking demonstrations for well-heeled tourists and expatriates eager to get an inside glimpse of the métier of a French chef. For two hours, my friends and I scribbled notes as the chef prepared a holiday meal. The first course was a terrine of vegetables and foie gras, served with a delicate salad of herbs and vinaigrette. For the main course, it was a roasted chicken with boudin blanc (white sausage) and a chestnut garnish. And the dessert was a buche, the traditional Yule log, but rather than chocolate, this one was flavored with mango and raspberry. He kept half a dozen pans going at once, tossing off saucepans and utensils to an assistant to wash, and used a blender, mixer, and food processor with abandon. The instructions were enigmatic: the dacquoise for the buche was done when it was soft but hard, the amount of boudin blanc to incorporate depends upon what else you have on the menu, add enough water to rinse out the pan. But the results were delicious.

Pressé de foie gras aux légumes fondants

Poulet de Bresse rôti, petits boudin blancs et marrons au jus

Bûche à la mangue et à la framboise


Starman said...

I think the most important thing people forget when watching a chef is that he doesn't have to wash any of the utensils he uses to cook the meal, so he could not care less how many he uses. I love to cook (and I've discovered that I'm rather good at it) but I hate the clean-up afterward.
One thing I find annoying lately, is the way the chefs spill stuff around the plate as a way of garnishing. I remember when that wasn't done and the presentation was still fantastic.

Kimberly said...

The terrine looks amazing. I've only eaten foie gras twice in my life, once in Lyons and once in Paris, but I dream of the day when it will again pass my lips.

Brenda said...

I attended several day-long classes at LCB (if you take a course in something, they reward you with a certificate). It is not for the casual home cook. You need to go in with some cooking skills, and the recipes do not include step-by-step instructions. It also depends on the chef-instructor. I had one that I adored, and one who I liked but who was arrogant. I ruined my sauce and he just shrugged. "Throw it out and start over," he said. "Sometimes I have to make it 20 or 30 times."

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