Yesterday was my practical final exam for my Fundamentals class. We had 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam which included making: Hollandaise sauce, Chicken Chardonnay, pureed potatoes, Glazed Carrots, and Cream of Broccoli Soup.
Sounds pretty easy right? Well yes, and no. The recipes are easy, but what makes the exam hard is fighting over product, equipment, and a place on the stove with 20 other people while under a time constraint. One of the hardest things for me to do was to stay focused on what I was doing and not pay attention to what the people around me were doing. I learned that I don't trust myself very much because I found that I wanted to do things in the order that the people around me were doing, and was doubting the way that I had laid out my prep list. Despite my self doubt, I stuck to my own prep list, and I am really glad I did or I could of easily ended up a sweaty mess in a corner curled up in the fetal position.
Finals in culinary school are not your average college exam. They are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. I could run 20 miles and it would still not be equal to the type of exhaustion that you feel after completing a practical exam in the kitchen. Not only does the kitchen feel like a huge oven, but you are also wearing a hat, a neck tie under your chefs jacket, a shirt under your chefs jacket, and thick chefs pants. If you still cannot picture the comfort level of this situation, picture yourself in a desert wearing a beanie, a long-sleeve turtleneck, a vest, and sweatpants while cooking chicken chardonnay on a lava rock.
All in all, the final went well and I passed. My Hollandaise sauce was a little thick ( probably from waiting forever to find Chef and have her taste it ) but my soup was tasty, my potatoes were creamy and delicious, my carrots were cooked and glazed well, I didn't serve raw chicken, and my sauce was tasty and well seasoned. There were a few bumps in the road along the way when every stove burner was occupied making me create an alternate route for my prep list, or when someone jacked my mushrooms for my chardonnay sauce ( luckily the person realized it and gave me theirs, but there were a few moments of "Oh Sh*t" ).
It is the morning after the exam and I am still winding down from the
adrenaline rush. I was so exhausted that I actually laid down after I
got home with the intent of sleeping. Which- if you know me, is not
normal. I don't nap. ( not intentionally at least ). I am relieved that it is over, except finals only get more challenging from here, but hey, what is life without a challenge right?