Culinary School exams: quite an experience. If you've seen Julie and Julia, you know maybe what culinary school exams involve. In the final exam scene, Julia pulls a card (for the life of me I cannot remember what was on the card, but suffice to say it was an impossible French recipe), and she's meant to write the ingredients, quantity and method for the dish, then presumably she'll execute the dish in the kitchen. Julia (JULIA CHILD) comes up blank. She cannot remember the dish. Horrified, she fails her exam. Cue recurring nightmare. Weep.
The midterm exam at my particular culinary school is very similar- but because it's the midterm it's an introduction to the process. On the pastry side, we were given 10 desserts to know, including all of the components (for instance: to make macaroons you'd need to know how to make a french meringue, how to incorporate that into the almond flour and confectioners' sugar, how to color the batter, cook the cookies, how to make three ganaches, how to assemble). The morning of our practicum exam, we came into the kitchen, pulled a folded paper at random, opened the paper to find the title and ingredients (on our final, we won't be given the ingredients)(yes, I'm already worrying about it)(I've been told to stop worrying, since the exam isn't until June, but obviously that person doesn't know me very well), and were asked to write the procedure for each component.
I pulled French Cookies and Ice Cream, so I sat down to furiously write out the procedure for four french cookies and the ice cream. I handed the completed procedures to my proctor, he checked the details (at this point, if there are any corrections to be made, the proctor gives you a chance to make the correction, if you can't, he takes a point off per error and makes the correction himself), I got the procedures approved and headed into the kitchen for a LONG day of making cookies, ice cream and considering plating.
(I'm joking and being cavalier here- those chocolate bowls almost undid me. I made TWELVE and three worked. Any guesses how many plates I needed to pull together? THREE. Talk about coming down to the wire, holy smokes)
When our plates were set, the proctor brought them in to the tasting and evaluation room. The tasting is purposely done blind, meaning the tasters do not know who prepared the dish- this prevents a bias. The proctor returns to the kitchen and reviews your performance throughout the day including feedback on kitchen work, and the impressions from the tasters.
It was nerve wracking, and exciting, and fun and terrifying all at the same time. I loved every minute. I'm still scared for my final in June.