More Thoughts On Culinary Cup.

October 3, 2011

This is feedback from the commis for the Delaware North Culinary Cup team. He is a student at the Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Boston. He also works part time with Chef Kevin Doherty. He is a well-disciplined young culinarian and I think he does a strong job of relating his experience.

Dear Chefs,

As le cummis for Team Delaware North, I learned a number of different things but some of the most valuable ones I learned are the following: I saw the importance of teamwork and using every person for a different job (not just the four chefs who are cooking and cutting and then le cummis stands around and cleans dishes like I’ve seen on other teams). Every member of the team has value that can be added even if it’s cutting mirepoix and then sweeping and cleaning then jumping right back into the fight to help out as needed. To be successful in a competition, you have to be quick, accurate and clean. Always be on top of what you are doing in case of a hiccup so that it can be corrected as quickly as possible. Equipment should be checked half way through just to make sure everything is working properly. We also has a proper plan of action to correct mishaps just in case something did go wrong.

When working, you shouldn’t have more than tone tool and one type of product on your cutting board. It truly is easier to complete the task at hand than to be jumping all over the place with different products and equipment. Make sure to separate garbage and compostable materials and try to minimize waste as much as possible t show the different values each part of the food we use can contribute to the dishes. If the judge asks you why you are using a certain method to do something, have a good answer and explanation as to why you are doing it that specific way. Training is an important key to be successful in any aspect of life. If we train as we fight, the outcome will always be known. But, when training under unexpected or harsher conditions, it will help the team develop and be able to adjust, adapt and overcome in any situation.

Having incredible and talented chefs to critique you beforehand and tell you what they think is wrong and what needs to be done to achieve your best and most excellent effort helps a lot. Being able to hear advice from a master chef as to how to be better truly is a priceless experience and the most important thing is when the experts speak and listen because rank is achieved with hard work and mastering ones trade and one would be dumb not to pay close attention to them. Proper time management is also an important role while competing and having a good and strong time sheet cal also help a lot in finishing in timely fashion.

Another thing I learned is that many chefs are backyard mechanics – they create their own tools to facilitate the job and still have a proper outcome – that can be an important key of creativity. When a budget is in place it is important to follow it to every last penny needed. If it gets bad, eat an MRE (meal ready to eat) or a salad, cheap and inexpensive can take you a long way and Golden Corral has unlimited food for $12.00. Lastly, the two most important things I learned from all the great chefs I had the pleasure of working with and learning from is to have fun and a passion for what you do. Without those two, there is no purpose in doing this. You would just be another cook in the masses.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Jonathan Restrepo