Friday, March 21, 2008

Classical Five Course Gastronomique Menu For One

So I entered another one of those illustrious American Culinary Federation competitions I love to participate in. The latest entry was another cold food entry. This particular one was a five course tasting menu, prepared hot and shown cold. The requirements for the category was to prepare two appetizers, consommé, salad course and an entree.

As I love reading Le Guide Culinaire and I instantly thought of the classical French style of cooking, I decided to prepare a five-course menu right out of Escoffier's design. I knew that some of the ideas might be dated because of the time when the book was written, but I wanted to do it all the same. As Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt, Certified Master Chef, A.A.C. was one of the judges for the competition, I knew that the research put into the classical menu would be appreciated.

I took a couple of student's from the school where I teach at and one of them took pictures of my dishes, so if she is reading this thanks Christina Luckette. I also took Valerie Inman along with me, another great student from one of my Food Prep classes. I think both of these girls will be great chefs some day in the culinary community.

So I will expalin the menu here along with the pictures that Christina took. My first course was
medallions made from the chicken breasts served with medallions of mouselline forcemeat made from the legs. The version I made was with a chipolata garnish which includes glazed button (chipolini) onions, chipolata sausage, olive shaped carrots, and diced caramelized salt pork. The sauce was a demi-glaze sauce made from chicken stock. Some issues I had with this course is that I didn't place the breast medallions on top of the farce medallions. Otherwise I think the course came out well, so did the judges.

My second course filet de sole a l'andolouse. I went with this one as I had served it awhile ago at one of the restaurants I worked at and loved eating it. The dish is half a lightly cooked tomato with risotto with pimento inside and a paupiette (silet of sole rolled with forcemeat) with pimento sitting on top. The whole thing sits on a base of pan-friend eggplant and it is accompanied by beurre noisette (brown butter). The judges each seemed to have issues with the eggplant for some reason. One stated that for the amount of eggplant there needed to be more sauce, another stated an issue with the eggplant in general, but all the comments made sense. This course was my least favorite of all the courses, it just seemed clunky to me.

My third course was a consommé, Consommé Talleyrand. I have no picture of this course. The consommé was made from chicken stock, the garnish was quenelles of pheasant forcemeat, cockscombs and julienne of truffle. I think I needed some work on the truffles, but the judges all seemed to like this course.

My salad course came out pretty well, needed some work as well but I liked it a lot. I prepared Salade Opera which consists of julienned chicken breast, truffle, salted ox tongue and celery tossed in mayonnaise. The salad has a bouquet of asparagus tips in the center an then slices of rooster kidney and gherkin bordering the salad. I prepared a pate en croute made with an herb dough and dried cranberries, salt pork and ham in the forcemeat.

My final course was a Filet de Bouef Bouquetiere. The dish is a roasted filet of beef surounded by bouquets of glazed carrots, diamond sliced haricot verts, butter coated peas, hollandaise coated cauliflower and small chateau potatoes. The sauce was a gravy made from the pan drippings in the manner of an Espagnol sauce. The beef was undercooked on this course, could've been sliced thinner as well. The vegetables should have ben plated together as we do not serve food this way anymore unless we are in a French restaurant presenting by tableside service.

Overall the presentation went well, I ended up with a silver medal. I had fun coming up with this menu as it was something different and I don't normally see a menu like this displayed. The show itself had a number of great pieces displayed. We don't often see as much cold food displayed these days at ACF shows but this show had probably about sixty or more entries. The show did not have any gold medals for cold food, there was one other silver medal and the rest was either bronze or certificates. This show has its own medals as well that they give to those entries that did not receive an ACF medal which was a nice touch,e specially for those just starting out as it encourages them to continue competing. I will certainly attempt this category again some time soon if I can find an ACF show with a cold food salon close to me.

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