Culinary School Here I Come (52) Classes, A Practical and Catering my Sister’s Wedding…Even the Cake!

I left off last week realizing that school this semester was going to kick my ass. Fresh from that realization, my counselor told me that she had to work at getting my scholarship funds released as I was not considered “full time.” WTF is said! I’m only carrying 11 credits and I think that the full time threshold is 12. Couldn’t be because I was spending way too much time at school for me to be part time. So I added up my weekly hours:

Adv Baking – 8 hrs

Menu planning – 2 hrs

Beverage – 1 hr

Garde Manger – 8 hrs       Total hours = 19  But wait.  I have to factor into my Fellowship hours with Chef Tom at Class Act. That would be an additional 15 hours. Now it all makes sense. It would be an easy semester without my fellowship…Rats!

Anyhoo, the second week felt a little more comfortable. I’m getting to know the other students and finding the rhythm of working in them. Adv. Baking was another week of breads.Scaling whole wheat walnut dough750 grams of benched dough.Baked off walnut whole wheat rolls. Yum!We did a lot of baking and some tasting. We sampled some awesome Sourdough, Olive Sourdough and Walnut Wheat. More bread next week.

We had our first quiz in Garde Manger. I got an 89%. First time ever I got below 90% for anything. How am I going to make up for that? You’ll see later. The topic for this week were salads. On Tuesday our groups were assigned to make 3 salads. Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables, Beluga Lentil Salad with Fennel & Tomato and finally Tabbouleh. There wasn’t much organization in the group but we all somehow found a task to do and did it. The Beluga Lentil Salad was mine to make. These “grain” salads, I learned, are divided into a body (whatever grain or main ingredient), a garnish (what I would call filling; roasted veggies, sauteed veggies) and a dressing. The best ratios would be 2 parts body and 1 part garnish. The amount of dressing would be up to you.  Check our salads out.Thursday was our first practical. We were required to make 2 composed salads using chicken breast and shrimp and mystery pantry ingredients. First, a composed salad is one that is carefully arranged, instead of being tossed. It usually has a focal item and is colorful. Each component should stand on it’s own but shouldn’t be out of place. With that said, our first salad was a Roasted Chicken, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart with Apples, Figs and Arugula topped with a Lemon Vinaigrette. Our second salad was a Grilled Vegetable Napoleon with Shrimp, Spring greens and a Roasted Red Pepper Coulis Vinaigrette.Chef Craig doing the evaluation.

Our dishes both looked really good and our evaluation couldn’t have been much better. Our Tart Salad was picked as the best salad of the day both in terms of taste and visually. Our review for the Napoleon wasn’t as glowing. It seemed that the shrimp was not carefully incorporated. Our first plan was to slice them thinly and layer into the Napoleon but we pitched that idea. Oh well, you can’t have winners every time. We got 48 points out of a maximum of 50. Go team SLNK!

As a “Fellow” in Class Act, I help Chef Tom out with the students and sometimes get assigned a task to complete for our service. My task on Friday was to make a potato chip garnish. It wasn’t your ordinary garnish, It was 2 paper thin potato slices with a fennel frond in between. Not as easy as it seems. All the air pockets must be pressed out of the envelope or it won’t crisp. It was very laborious and time consuming but it added a special touch.This was a very stressful week as Saturday was my sisters wedding at my house. I was initially asked only to make the cake, to which I responded “Um, I’ve only decorated 1 cake in Beginning Baking and you want me to make your wedding cake?” I reluctantly agreed and must have been drunk when having this conversation because I then said “Since I’m in culinary school, it makes sense for me to cater the food as well.” As a result of that, I’ve been prepping for the past 3 weeks and stressing for 6. I started working at 8:30 am and didn’t stop until the guests left a 9:30. If you think you’ve prepped it all, don’t worry, you always forget something. Here are some of the goodies served.Polenta with Roasted Red and Green Peppers, Parmesan Cheese and Pepper Oil.Tofu with Ginger & Soy Glaze.Vichyssoise Shots with Green Onion Oil.Roasted Red Pepper Coulis Poached Shrimp (the natives were restless so I forgot the garnish.)Asian Chicken Skewers with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce.Fried Ahi, Okinawan Sweet Potato and Yam Nori Rolls with Ginger Soy Dippping Sauce.Pulled Pork with Caramelized Maui Onions, Dried Cherries and Mango on Homemade Portuguese Sweet Bread Rolls.

What I wasn’t able to photograph was the Pohole Fern Shoot Salad with Cherry Tomato Salad with Li Hing Vinaigrette. I do have a tip if you are using tomatoes in a salad. Always salt and drain overnight if possible. It releases a lot of water and doesn’t make your salad soggy.I suppose I could reduce this tomato water down and use it for something.

Oh the cake. Butter cream had become the thorn in my side. No matter what version I tried, it always had some solid bits in it. Oh well, I did the best and it tasted really good. The cake was a Butter Sponge and the Butter cream was made with a Swiss Meringue. Both recipes were from Martha Stewart. My sister insisted on orchids and she also got a cake topper that wouldn’t have been my first choice or any of my choices for that matter.Shaping the cake layers to the proper width. Check out my ghetto set up…lazy susan on a box. Nothing but the best with the duck!Since my floors are not level, my cakes are no either. I have to find the lowest point on all 6 cakes and that becomes the height of all 6 layers. I thought it was rather ingenious of me to bust out a ruler instead of winging it. This process took me a long, long time.I used this amazing lilikoi curd as filling between the layers.Oh butter cream, please be good to me. Swiss meringue to be exact.The final product.

The cake made it without falling over. The support straws even held up. The only thing this cake was missing was band aid. So before you judge, just remember this was my first one ever.

What a relief it was to wake up on Sunday with not a care in the world. No prep, no planning, just some homework. Until next week, see ya!

About tinfoilduck

I had this wacky idea to go to culinary school, while maintaining another full time career. I will be blogging about the program and how it affects me as I try to manage my daily life and how I try to keep everything together.
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148 Responses to Culinary School Here I Come (52) Classes, A Practical and Catering my Sister’s Wedding…Even the Cake!

  1. I remember making those herbed potato garnishes! It was so rewarding to see beautiful results after working so hard every day. Keep up the good work!

  2. That was so fun seeing all the creations and living vicariously through you a bit. I don’t know that’d I’d enjoy cooking on that large a scale, but some of the classes seem so fun. One hour on beverages, cool bring it on. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed and good luck with school.

  3. Congrats on it all — surviving, your quiz grade, your menu items and the CAKE!!!!

    Absolutely beautiful. I swear I’d weigh a million pounds if I went to culinary school…


  4. Ah…culinary school. My secret dream. 🙂

    Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you and congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  5. I’m filled with admiration! It takes some stamina to do what you’re doing. I wish you all the luck in the world

  6. Bakbakee says:

    I was hungry. Decided to open wordpress. Read your article – big mistake. Stomach’s been growling ever since. Weird noises now.

  7. Ashley says:

    I want to go to cooking school just for personal reasons but I figured it cheaper to do it at home, I’m so jealous. Kudos to you!

  8. What an amazing undertaking; good for you! It looks like you did a beautiful and well appreciated job for your sister.

    …and you didn’t have to worry about nutritional or caloric restraints as I have tried to do with the help of Dr.Oz. Check out my story, “Shucks, Dr. Oz” on my blog.


    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading. Once I started the baking section I knew I had to give up my fight with sugar, butter, flour and most of all carbs! I’ve actually lost weight from all the running around.

  9. Wow… this is great! Culinary school has always sounded amazing to me! (All except the bootcamp chefs that grade you).

    Thanks for sharing your experiences ^_^

  10. You are. Inspiring! I will be following you…… 99% of success is deserving…congrats!

  11. newsy1 says:

    This is so impressive. That food looked like art! I never thought of culinary school as something that would be a breeze but this seems like it would be beyond hard work. Great post.

  12. phucd says:

    Very nice! This blog is making me hungry!

  13. Love your blog! I’m considering starting culinary school sometime next year, and I really enjoy your posts and photos.

  14. ukate says:

    Congrats on making Freshly Pressed! I’m so glad it pointed me in your direction – I’m absolutely overcome with amazement at how hard you guys work in culinary school. It just solidifies my position that it is somewhere I do NOT belong. 😉 Good on you for taking it on, though – well done!

    Great post, great pics – thanks for sharing this with us!

  15. This are lovely. My niece is also into the culinary arts. Love your work. Are you guys allowed to wear jewellry while baking? I noticed a metal bracelet in the photo which was being meshed into the flour dough.

  16. You were Freshly Pressed! Congradulations!

    It’s always been a dream of mine to go to Culinary School but have never been sure the arthritis in my feet and legs were up to the task. Now I really wish I had. Your journey sounds amazing even though it is hard. Best of luck to you.

  17. macmaker says:

    this is all really impressive!

  18. anotherdaysucks says:

    These pictures make me so hunger 🙂

  19. 7cakes says:

    That looks sooo fun! I think it would be awesome to go to culinary school =D

  20. conniewalden says:

    This food looks beautiful and delicious. Thanks for making me hungry. Connie

  21. katker says:

    Looking at this made me so hungry!

  22. jamieahughes says:

    Wow. You could have fooled me that that was your first cake. It looks amazing! Congrats on surviving (and thriving) during a busy, stressful week, and good luck with your classes. Awesome work!

  23. Your cake is amazing. Continue your good work. Would love to have the recipe for that lilikoi curd.
    Phyllis K.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Why certainly: 1/2 cup butter, 2 eggs, 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup lilikoi juice (puree & water). Melt butter in double boiler, mix egg, add to butter with sugar and juice and stir until slightly thickened….about 10 min. Chill in an ice bath and refrigerate. It will thicken further. I like filling it in a profiterole (cream puff shell). Good luck.

  24. dini ayudia says:

    Oh Gosh..
    I am a student of engineering science but I have a freaking craziness about cooking and baking.
    After I read ur blog, I realize I MUST DO COOK ASAP! Haha.
    Thanx. It makes me more excited to do my passion!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      There is a 6 volume cooking book called Modernist Cuisine. As an engineer, you will love it. Check it out online. It’s expensive $600 but I think you can look at a few pages on amazon.

  25. Impressive…. keep it up and share more. Cheers !!!

  26. Nice photos. It look delicious. Keep it up 🙂

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading. I think I need to upgrade my camera though. I’ve been looking at photos on other blogs and they are so clean & crisp. Maybe Santa will be good!

  27. Yasir Imran says:

    Long time ago I have purchased culinary DVDs for training. It was quite useful stuff and I really liked that.

  28. indiraadams says:

    This was SO interesting! Your sister must have saved a fortune at her wedding thanks to you! You took care of the venue, cake, AND caterer! And I think the cake looks beautiful, especially since it’s your first time. Are the flowers edible, or are they real? Good job! And your sister is very lucky.

  29. I can tell you exactly what the problem is with your buttercream: you’re using the paddle attachment to make it. Try it with the whip. 🙂

    • tinfoilduck says:

      I read a butter cream article that said if you want a totally smooth consistency, the whole paddle and whip needs to be submerged as to not introduce air bubbles. I found that interesting.

      • Not introduce air bubbles?! It’s based on a meringue! Trust me, I’ve made hundreds of liters of buttercream in my life.

      • tinfoilduck says:

        Yes, I thought that was an odd suggestion, however, I’ve heard odder things before. I had a better result when I used 100% butter instead of a small amount of shortening. Thanks for the tips.

  30. Sue Riedl says:

    You catered your sister’s wedding! Wow–impressive. And any cake with lemon cud in it is a winner (our wedding cake also had lemon curd) and was eaten in a FLASH. I had had a great idea to serve leftovers the next day for brunch–nothin’, not a crumb left. Congrats!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      If you get the chance and have ever made a profiterole, try using lemon curd as a filling instead of pastry cream. It cuts the egginess of the pastry shell. I love lilikoi curd. Can’t wait to grow it in my garden.

  31. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend you watch both seasons of Party Down.

  32. Fitovers says:

    hey it looks very delicious, I am hungry just want it now !! 🙂

  33. alice says:

    I was hungry

  34. foodvixennyc says:

    You made a beautiful birthday cake for your first time.You’re a natural.. Lilikoi lard as a filling between layers? Sounds yummy! Inspirational post. Thanks for sharing.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Hmmm, lilikoi lard may be interesting. Just kidding. I could flavor the lard with lilikoi concentrate, melt it down, blend it with tapioca maltodextrine and serve it as a lilikoi power on a salad. Thanks for the idea.

  35. foodvixennyc says:

    Sorry for the error, I meant to write “Lilikoi curd,” not “Lilikoi lard.” 🙂

  36. The Pink Spoon says:

    The meringue looks absolutely beautiful and the curd sounds lovely! I am a huge fan of cooking but this is something else 🙂 Congratulations

    • tinfoilduck says:

      I could always cook but my baking consisted of box mixed cakes. I’m learning the most from the baking classes. It’s actually quite easy if you know the principles. Pick up a good cook book with directions, read it a few times to understand the process, then do it. It works.

  37. Eva McCane says:

    great job! i’m starving just reading. keep up the good work and thanks for sharing!

  38. PoornaPsych says:

    *bloop*,lol guys!!

  39. First cake ever? You must be a cake genius!

  40. Jean says:

    It’s a wonderful gift for you to give your culinary energy and creativity for your sister’s wedding! Memorable for both you and sis.

    How did people find the tofu with ginger and miso topping? I’m asking since we know some people dislike tofu…. ( I enjoy tofu, even raw tofu.)

    • tinfoilduck says:

      I live in Hawaii and we have a long history of eating tofu. I can eat it plain but the tofu is like a little sponge that absorbs anything that it is sauced with. Ginger, soy and green onions is a simple combo that is quite flavorful but I guess tofu isn’t for everyone. Thanks for reading my blog. Sign up for email notifications.

  41. hahigley says:

    I’m literally salivating reading this blog and looking and all of the amazing pictures and visual aids that you used. I feel like anyone who appreciates food and cooking would love to read this blog. You explain everything in words picture-by-picture, but it might be better if you described in a little more detail how you prepared each item so that it’s easier for others to recreate. Looks delicious though! 🙂

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for the suggestions. I’m such a wind bag that I once wrote a 1500 word blog. I don’t think anyone read that for fear of falling asleep. I will take your suggestions into consideration and try to be a bit more detailed, however, that would lead to more words.

  42. mamasmorningcup says:

    Wonderful, you are doing so well! Keep us updated, the food looks delicious!

  43. Anita Mac says:

    Wow – how great a story! I wish you every success. Will look forward to reading more.

  44. getgoingtoindia says:

    Great pics! Love food and enjoy seeing your efforts, well done

  45. seabeegirl says:

    Awesome job on your sister’s wedding! How interesting it must be going to culinary school! (And lots of hard work, too!) Good luck to you and congrats on the Freshly Pressed! 😀

  46. Very cool. The breads reminded me of the time my husband brought home challah bread with honey butter from culinary school – so good. Although I don’t think he would even now, more than a year after graduation, agree to cater someone’s wedding!

  47. Wow, all that food not only looks delicious but it’s also beautiful. I love the potato garnish, and the cake looks great!

  48. leadinglight says:

    Well for your first wedding cake, you did an amazing job! I hear culinary school and the hospitality industry is extremely stressful so I admire all your effort.

  49. lemlimora says:

    My oldest son wants to go to Culinary school when he graduates in 2013 I am going to have to show him your blog he would love to see this!!! Thank you for sharing. Your cake look awesome for a first time!!!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading! Culinary school is hard work…warn him about that. The food shows make it look glamorous. I realized that the day I had to haul away pig slop!

      • lemlimora says:

        He honestly doesn’t watch any television he just loves to cook!! He is getting a small dosage of it in his school. They have a culinary arts program so they are making them work hard!! But I will make sure to tell him and have him check out your blog!! Thank you for sharing your experiences!!

      • tinfoilduck says:

        The cooking shows on PBS are the best. It’s usually on Saturday afternoons. It will expand his knowledge of different types of cuisine and will get him ahead of other students.

  50. kathynealen says:

    Enjoyed reading this entry and will check out some others – I hope you had some time to enjoy your sister’s wedding!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading! As a result of being in the kitchen all night, I never got to take a photo with my sister and her new husband. Just of me with food and serving the cake…rats!

  51. As a foodie, I just love all of the pictures! Good work on focusing on quality, creative design and nutritous meals.

  52. gandawahine says:

    Nice blog! Care to share your recipe for the lilikoi custard filling? Thanks!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading and here’s the recipe. 1/2 cup butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 eggs & 1/2 cup lilikoi juice (can use puree & water). Beat the eggs, in a double boiler melt the butter and add juice, sugar and eggs. Heat and whip till thickened slightly…around 10 minutes. Chill down in an ice bath and refrigerate. It’ll thicken up more as it chills. Good luck.

  53. Wow – such an undertaking! Congrats on pulling it off, on living the dream and still seeing the fun in it all! I hope to be writing about your food soon!

  54. That’s an amazing first-time-make of a wedding cake!! You’ve done such a good job!
    Aint your sis lucky to have you?!

  55. fuzziepotato says:

    Enjoyed your post! Cheers to you for doing culinary school on the side—I’m looking forward to reading more (btw, the food looks delicious!)

  56. Kelsey says:

    I’m in cooking school, too! I’ve found it impossible to keep up the blog at the same time. I definitely appreciate all the time, effort, and photos you put on your post. Best of luck in culinary school!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I’ve been very disciplined with my blogging. Some weeks are easier than others. I make entries every few days then work on it on the weekend.

  57. Your creations look so beautiful!

  58. Congratulations on being Fresh Pressed! That’s how I found you, and I also was inspired to go cook something. Good luck on school, and I look forward to future posts.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I was surprised to find that I was Freshly Pressed. What an honor. I write a new blog every week. I just posted one yesterday. If you just registered to receive my blogs today, you probably didn’t get the link. It’s there if you want to check it out.

  59. yen says:

    Wow! The food looks delicious and the cake is lovely.:)

  60. Loved this post. Your sister is very lucky to have you!

  61. Everything made has a Hawaiian island/Asian theme to it. Was it done in Hawaii or was it the theme of the party? I know because I’m hawaiian and from Hawaii and love okinawan sweet potatos, love nori wraps and make them all the time and love ahi raw and cooked, but espcially raw. Very nice pics and great job catering it all. It looked fabulous as well as delicious.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I live on Maui and attend the Maui Culinary Academy at UH Maui College. That must explain the Asian themes. Cannot get away from it! Where are you from and are you still in Hawaii?

  62. lexy3587 says:

    WOW, that looks like the most amazing wedding dinner!

  63. Bri says:

    My daughter just started culinary school. I know she will definitely appreciate your blog. Keep up the great work – here and in the kitchen!

  64. judyb54 says:

    You are amazing!! Doing all of that beautiful work for your sister’s wedding. I love your choices of foods, very non-traditional. And the cake was so beautiful. I have a daughter who’s graduating from culinary school in December and your blog makes me appreciate all the hard work. Keep it up and kudo’s on the Freshly Pressed!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I didn’t know what to expect when I started the program but I never really expected to be so exhausted by the time Friday rolls around. Congrats to your daughter for making it through.

  65. I would have you cater my wedding…if I wasn’t already married! Everything looks wonderful! Kudos to you for taking on the wedding food and cake…a great gift to your sis and something she will always remember and be proud to tell everyone. Best of luck in culinary school!

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. It was the perfect place for me to be…in the kitchen. I’m in my world as opposed to being the entertainer of the event. It turned out amazing and the guests like the food.

  66. Wow! Would have loved to have been at your sister’s wedding for the food :). And good tip about the tomatos. I hate when they make everything soggy and wet!

  67. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    So delicious looking! They glamorize the food industry way too much on TV. That looked more like hard work than fun. Kudos to you!

  68. Great post! Thank you for sharing!

  69. gaycarboys says:

    it was well worth the money. the food looks stunning

  70. Pretty nice cake considering the fact that this was only the second cake you decorated! The topper must have been really heavy which means you did a good job with the cake support. I believe it is a gift to know how to improvise as my cakes are all done without the “proper” tools so far and turned out just fine. 🙂

  71. D.Marie says:

    Kuddos on making it through your first wedding cake! The first cake I did took me nearly 48 hours of straight work to complete, and my kitchen looked like it had been bombed with sugar. But I would say the worst part was transporting it! Even more amazing that you did the rest of the catering as well. Try not to let the schematics of getting through culinary depress you too much…keep you’re eye on the prize and churn out more amazing food and you’ll be golden.

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. Yes, had I done either the cake or the catering, it would have made my life more enjoyable. In retrospect, it was challenging but fun. If I didn’t bake off the cakes weeks before, I wouldn’t have made it though.

  72. Dee's Basement says:

    That cake looks amazing. I bet your sister was soooooooooo happy!

  73. Sue says:

    the cake looks wonderful, good luck at culinary school

  74. Foodoofus says:

    Wonderful blog and awesome photos you got here. Keep up the good work in Culinary school and check out my page when you have the time.

  75. Holy Moly, Good job!
    Your cake looks beautiful! Your sister is VERY lucky to have you!
    What recipe did you use for the cake base?
    Also have you ever used a caliper to measure the width of your cake before?

    • tinfoilduck says:

      Thanks for reading my blog. I just used a basic butter cake recipe from Martha Stewart. It was really tasty the first time I tried it so I decided to work with it. I have no idea what a caliper is so I haven’t used one yet. I did the old fashioned eyeballing technique. I knew I’d have a forgiving crowd!

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