And here we are. We have reached the final curtain. Today was our last day, save for our practical exam next week, and I thought I’d take the opportunity to update you on my final two weeks at Leiths. We have had some amazing guest chefs demonstrating and cooking for us over the past 9 months and the last couple of weeks did not disappoint either. Along with Bruno Loubet (such a lovely chap), there has been Norman Musa and Atul Kochhar of Benares fame (guess where we’re going to celebrate Bill’s birthday?). And who could forget the delightful Tom (or Chris and Nick)? Not me, that’s for sure. The afternoon was possibly the highlight of my time at Leiths (and there have been many highlights). Tom and his team were truly great fellows. There was nothing starry about them and each played a part in the dem. I tried to play it cool and pretend it was all just part of every day life but there was an obvious buzz around the school and even the teachers were unashamed to show their excitement. Oh, and by the way, the food was fab too.
Down to Earth with a bump and the theory exam was held on Monday. It was as tough as we expected it to be and we won’t know the outcome until next week. At least there will be no more weekends, evenings or early mornings of revision. We had some good news this week when we were told that our whole group passed the wine exam – I, for one, was not convinced that I would despite my love for a glass of red. In between the dems and the exams we have managed to fit in a little cooking and have all been trying to second guess the content of the practical exam. We have been asked to prepare and cook scallops on more than one occasion and also to produce a savoury souffle. Yesterday (Thursday) we were put out of our misery when Claire informed us that in 4 1/2 hours we will be required to prepare and produce scallops (good guess) with cauliflower puree and pancetta, prepare and cook a best end neck of lamb (French or English trim – remember a previous blog?) using ingredients from a selection provided and to include a farinaceous (but not mashed potato) and a vegetable accompaniment, deliver an individual gateau pithivier (yes, puff pastry) and if that isn’t enough, at some point during the morning we will get a tap on the shoulder and be asked to prepare and present a short order cheese soufflé. My exam is on Monday, no prizes for guessing what I’ll be up to this weekend.
Last week’s final cooking included 4 from my group cooking a dinner party for 4 of our fellow trainees. It was huge fun but hard work and it gave us (we worked under our Amba chefs banner) a good insight into how we work together. Harriet, Megan, Sophie and Annabel cooked for us on Thursday and it was truly outstanding. Beautifully presented, amazing food. Well done girls.
The girls were extremely complimentary about our food too, the highlight of which was assiette of strawberries – almost too good to eat. And, as if the pressure wasn’t enough, Jenny Stringer co-MD at Leiths joined our table for lunch. Jenny told us that it was the best dessert she has ever had. By the way, the rest of the meal was delicious too – even though I do say so myself.
Finally, here I am on the 05:33 (yes, the morning one) to Liverpool Street for an 08:00 start at school. It’s exam day! I had a run through of all of the dishes over the weekend and things seemed to go fairly well. I hope it goes as well today. Re-take day is Friday and I really don’t want to be there. Please wish me luck.
Then it really is back to reality. I’m hoping to have a bit of a break – no more 05:30 alarm calls for a while and we’re going for a week’s holiday. I plan to do some freelance work in between launching ‘Amba chefs’ so please bear me in mind for any of your catering needs.
I hope to continue blogging in some form and if all goes well today I can drop the ‘trainee’ and blog as ‘chefahoy’!
Thank you for following me over the past 9 months. I hope I’ve provided some entertainment. It has been a fantastic experience and I will be very sad for it all to end. Au revoir.