I was so stressed out all week about my final and for good reason – it was tough! We started Thursday off with a written exam (we had to write the ingredients and procedure of the consomme, but didn’t know that was the dish until that morning) and then had a practical exam which was timed and consisted of making two dishes for a panel of judges. Half the stress of the practical is that you need to be familiar with all eight dishes, but will only get two of them on the final. We all pick a number out of a hat after our written exam and that number corresponds to a pair of dishes. I pulled the Beef and Chicken Consommé with Poached Egg, Bacon and Chanterelles and the Sautéed Duck Breast and Braised Duck Leg with Pickled Cherries, Baby Bok Choy and Port Wine Sauce.
My first dish (4 plates of it), the consomme, was due to the judges at 12:45; and the second dish (another 4 plates), the duck, was due to them at 1:33. Because the second dish is due so soon after the first, you need to work at both throughout the morning as you only have time to finish the second dish after plating the first dish. Two proctors watch over the class during the practical and grade you on technique, time management, organization, and cleanliness, among other things. Then, a panel of 3-4 judges taste your dishes and grade you on plating, taste, texture, etc. We don’t know who the judges are until after the final is over, just prior to meeting them and listening to their critiques of our dishes. They’re all well-known restaurant owners and/or chefs in New York City.
I did really well on my final (both written and practical) and had great critiques from my judges! I was really pleased with how it all turned out, though my hands were a little shaky while plating my dishes. I chalk that up to nerves though! After the final, my class headed to Onieals, a bar a few blocks from school where we enjoyed some celebratory beverages. Some of our chefs met us there as well.
After Onieals, we all headed to Lauren and Graye’s house in Tribeca to hang out on their rooftop. We had a blast and the view was gorgeous!
The following day was graduation – we couldn’t wait!