- About Oregon Culinary Institute
- We started this school from scratch because we wanted to do it better and to do it right. We believe in good food. We believe in education. We believe in the communion that takes place between people sitting down together over an expertly crafted meal. We believe that learning to cook and bake should be affordable. We believe that solid skills, proper technique, educated palates, and comprehension of kitchen math are the cornerstones for cooks with futures, so that is what we teach. We are not perfect, but we strive for perfection. We expect our students to work hard and try every day and every minute. We expect the same from ourselves. We have heard our graduates referred to as 'Kitchen Ninjas' (at which we laugh but think that the term might fit). We do not want to take over the world. But we do want to make it a better place, filled with better cooks and bakers, better food, and a higher awareness of what it means to cultivate, harvest, render, prepare, cook, plate, present, savor, and give thanks, while taking responsible steps to make sure that those who come after us will have the same or better opportunities.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Sound and Fury on the Line
The sound is silent. I can hear myself breathing. Moving at two hundred miles an hour and still standing in the same place. My heart is pounding, creating the drum beat that sets the pace. The machine on the counter sounds like a train chugging away into the night spitting paper out of the top. My brain categorizes the steps to complete the ticket. Call the order out. I wait for my teammates to sound back from different locations in the kitchen. Pull the plates. I set the appropriate plates on the counter as a reminder of the ticket without need to look at it again. My inner monologue repeats the recipe in my head as my arms and hands operate by muscle memory. Heat the pan. It takes a matter of seconds due to constant use-check. Add oil. It reaches the proper temperature in about 30 seconds. Timing is critical, every step I make could be the mistake that stops the whole night. Meanwhile, I reach under the counter and grab pre-portioned meats, vegetables, sauces for sides, etc. Add proteins. I give them a quick toss to evenly brown all sides and add salt. Toss the veggies in. Flame bursts out of the pan, screeching due to the water vaporizing. The flame warms my face and my eyes reflect the flame. I let out a mischievous grin. The flame dies down. Add stock aromatics and a little reduction sauce then cover. Steam bursts through the lid causing it to rock back and forth because the constant use has warped the aluminum. Has the sauce reduced? Taste. Taste. Salt. Taste. 30 more seconds. I grab a hot plate from the oven without using a towel. My skin is as warm as the oven. Sweat beads up stinging my eyes and clings to the rim of my clothes. Slice the bread. Toss it on the grill and lather with garlic oil until warm. One small handful salad, 2oz vinaigrette, giving a quick toss it goes down on the plate. I silently sing the “Meat Song” as I finish the plate “The meat goes down on the bread, then I put the veggies on, it smells so good, through my nose, I want to eat it all night long!” The song changes slightly depending on my mood and the plate. Wipe all of the finger prints off the plate. Set it in the window. It’s followed closely by the plates from the other workers. Ring the bell. Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I don’t even see who takes the plates – already too busy with the next ticket. The silence is surprisingly loud as the night roars by in the blink of an eye.
(written as extra credit for English 115)