Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Culinary Final Exam

The City of Minneapolis
Mpls. campus of the technical college
Instructor in tall white chef hat, another instructor in the orange shirt

I had the pleasure of accompanying my friend to her job yesterday. She is a teacher of culinary art at our local technical college. She was asked to help critique the downtown Minneapolis students in their final exam and invited a few foody friends to join her. What an amazing event.

For $10.00 U.S., the price of almost any buffet in the city, you were given access to overwhelmingly gorgeous tables of food. It was called the Grand Final Buffet, and each student was responsible for presenting a main entree, a salad or soup, and an appetizer. (Two chefs per table) They were judged on presentation, service, taste, creativity, use of ingredients, and a host of other things. My pictures do not do their work justice.

On each table was also an ice sculpture! I asked a very young looking chef about this experience. I told her that I have seen many ice sculptures at weddings and buffets but that it had not occurred to me that this was part of their classroom experience. Would she tell me about it? Her eyes were huge and she said that they were given about three hours of instruction and then handed a chainsaw! Oh My! The artistic ability varied highly. Some were quite ornate, like a feathered swan, and hers was a five-pointed star. But her facial expression of sheer terror at being handed a power tool was the best part of the story.

One table had a lot of sushi and Asian cuisine, another utilized an Israeli, Middle-Eastern style, and there was even a chef who was experimenting with sauces for chicken wings. Much was French inspired or very creative uses of pairing ingredients together.

I'm going to forget the inventive names they had for these dishes. But on my plate in the photo is a watermelon salad with an amazing vinegrette,a lamb roll with tomato, a toasted rye with a very intriguing spread, a slice of duck with apple chutney, mahi tuna on a tortilla, a bland-filled pasta with Italian dressing, peppercorn turkey, something sushi with a cantalope melon ball on top, beef with wild mushroom glaze, a seasoned shrimp cocktail and terriyaki chicken. Above the plate, in the black cups were samples of cherry soup, gazpacho, and the most delightful cantalope soup, all served chilled. There was iced tea or water to drink and you could go back and sample as often and as many as you wanted. It was pretty inspirational.

I have no idea how you could really judge these "exams". It was so much fun to be a part of their big day. Out of this little excursion, several of us determined that it would be fun to have a book or cook club. We'll see whether that comes to fruition.


  1. "little excursion", indeed! What a way to spend the day. Any back-ground music?

  2. None whatsoever and that bothered me, come to think of it! We were in a college style cafeteria, it would have been easy to have some music. Who likes to listen to everyone chewing?


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