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Bhavini experiences the pressure of cooking to service times and discovers it is possible to cook without butter!

Imagine yourself sitting in a room where an expert is talking to you about your favourite topic. You are surrounded by people that are as obsessed about said favourite topic and so you chat incessantly any chance you get. Also imagine that while this is happening, plates of mouthwateringly delicious food (cooked by professional chefs) are passed around for you to taste. THIS is my life right now!

There is, of course quite a considerable amount of work that we need to partake in as well as all this chatting and eating but I have to say, for me this is also just as thrilling.

Reflecting back on the term so far, I am genuinely amazed at how much I have learnt just in the 7 weeks. Having made a drastic change to leave behind a successful career in the business world to start on the Leiths Diploma, I had a certain confidence about my abilities in the kitchen. Well… the last 7 weeks have really put me back in my box. I have learnt so much and in what seems like so little time.

This week we have focused on a range of skills from seafood to chicken to lamb, ending the week with game (which was a very interesting, albeit slightly nauseating demo).

We had an initial introduction to Bivalves (ok, just showing off – that’s the class of seafood that mussels fall into) and cooked Thai Mussels, which were just delicious. Not being able to take them home as we normally we do with all the food we cook (due to food poisoning issues), I rammed them down my throat as fast as humanly possible because who wants to waste such good food?

We also made jelly, which was absolutely fantastic! Prior to this, I believe the last time I made jelly was in infant school! Definitely my favourite dish this week.

Challenges this week were most definitely related to time planning. The teachers suddenly decided to get serious on us and instill some service times. I think I lull myself into a false sense of security – it always looks as though I have masses of time when planning. I mean, what adept cook couldn’t get a Coq Au Vin with a bit of broccoli on the side served up in 2.5 hours? Actually when you factor in jointing and rendering the chicken, as well as browning all the individual elements and allowing cooking time, it can get close. Definitely something to focus on as the weeks go by.

My favourite demonstration this week has to be healthy eating. Alarm bells were beginning to ring every time I cooked because, although the food is absolutely delectable, the amounts of butter and sugar we’ve been using is enough to make cookie and cola companies look like saints (I wonder if Jamie will come knocking at Leiths’s door soon)! So, it was nice to learn that it is possible to make just as delicious food using healthy ingredients and a lot less butter!

I’m very much looking forward to next week as it means we get to work in teams to cook a buffet lunch for 32. We have a Mexican buffet planned therefore we gave our selves a suitable Apprentice style name ‘Team Mexus’!

With only 3 weeks to go (2 if you don’t count assessment week), I am making the most of every minute of being with people that are as food obsessed as me and enjoying every morsel of food cooked!

Keep up with Bhavini's progress on the Leiths diploma in her blog


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