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Leiths intermediate diploma: Henrietta Gullifer, week 10

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Leiths intermediate diploma: Henrietta Gullifer, week 10

Hetty tackles the theory test, Chinese cuisine and lets her hair down at the student canape evening.

It's the end of term. I say this both begrudgingly and gratefully. I am exhausted, but I've learnt so much. The moment when I served up a complete, from scratch clam spaghetti earlier this week told me just how far I've come since the beginning of term. The beginning of term where I wouldn’t have dreamed of making my own pasta, tunnel boning a shoulder of lamb or making my own flaky pastry. Now I've done it I'm asking the question why didn't I try this earlier? 

Having said this I'm pretty sure we all started this week in a state of perpetual fear. It was the theory test. A 2 hour session where you spurted as many facts as you had managed to cram into your head. I can't be the only person who had been murmuring the ratios for a basic white sauce recipe all weekend or defining French terms like I actually speak the language? Luckily once that was over we got the afternoon off. I can't speak for anyone else but I slept. My 6am commute was taking its toll. I could tell it was the last week of term.

The highlight of the week had to be the canapé evening on Friday. Since we had worked so hard all term, the staff decided to reward us by throwing a party for us to invite family and friends. Of course this being cookery school we made all the canapés. However it was oddly more satisfying eating the mackerel tartare knowing I had spent 2 hours that afternoon dicing it. Of course because it was a load of food enthusiasts cooking for each other the canapés were particularly inventive and exciting. From beetroot, goats cheese and almond meringues to seaweed smoked butter poached potatoes or Guinness loaf with Stilton and truffle.  It really was a fantastic evening. A select few volunteers worked in the kitchen and the rest of us drank prosecco, ate canapés and bought tickets for an amazing raffle. Prizes ranged from wine to mangos to dinner at a swanky restaurant; but of course what we all really wanted to win was the gold magimix. It's nice to know at the end of term we still want to celebrate with the other students and the teachers, and even better knowing it was all in aid of the children’s food trust. 

Another highlight of the week was a demonstration from the illustrious School of Wok. While the main basics we learn at Leiths cover techniques which generally are suited to Modern European cooking, it really showed that there are a huge number of techniques we have yet to learn for other cuisines. For example rolling out dim sum pastries is a bit like rubbing your tummy and patting your head, it takes co-ordination, but when you figure it out you can make hundreds in a day. Or that whilst the staples of French cuisine may be garlic, butter, salt and lemon juice, in Chinese it’s ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce.

Now it's on to practical assessment week. A day where we cook in assessment conditions and our food is blind tasted…I'm nervous but excited. Excuse me while I just pop off to practise my cheese soufflé before the test!


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