12月 08, 2006

光彩・不光彩

The other day I had an opportunity to visit one of the schools on my list, the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts. The visit was mostly positive, with some caveats.

A few things I like about the school and the program it provides:
1. Very hands-on training. They claim 90% of class time is practicing in kitchen. Their philosophy is to well equip students by setting up a real world environment. The program splits into two halves. In the first half you'll lean the basic techniques and theory, and then try it out in the practice session. The second half is preparing food for the customers of their own restaurant and pastry shop. Very practical.

2. The students are very serious about what they are doing. Who doesn't need to be serious and passionate about the job after all :) Especially in food industry there is often no second chance, and everything has to be precise.

3. Small class size--the instructor to student ratio is 1:12 for the pastry class.

Things that I don't like?
1. I was told by the friend who studied there before that not all the instructors are good, and students complained about their instructors.

2. Too labour intensive, as it's training people to get into the lowest class of the industry as soon as possible. I know, you need to start from the bottom, which translates to doing dirty kitchen work, but you also need to inspire the students to go beyond that level.

3. Limited facilities. No library, no computer, no student meeting rooms or whatsoever. Also limited backup--they only have one administrative staff--the director of admission. Other than that? The founder, who also assumes the responsibilities of president. Under this admin structure (good/bad) things can happen easily and quickly. Also marketing of the school can be difficult.

Oh, and one more thing that really bugs me-- I picked up an almond croissant (very expensive... CND$2.5) in their bake shop on my way out, and guess what it tasted like?

The texture is like an overdone beef steak--actually even tougher. I had a hard time chewing it.

Well, true, the students are there for a reason. But isn't it more like problems with the recipe/preparation?

I'm in doubt.

***

I'm glad that Amazon "teamed" up with Audible.com that we can have digital book download now, that also works with ipod (unlike their twin brother unbox that only works for Windows user :) Audible.com is treated as yet another merchant that fufills the digital version of the books.

Recently I'm listening to Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, which was introduced by CL (and I'm sure he's practicing the essence of the book by doing so :-). A very good book that illustrates what hospitality really means, and how that helps in completing business transactions (which I believe also applies to building personal relationship). Highly recommend for those who need to work with people (i.e., all of us :) And don't forget the audible version if you commute by bus like I do!

***
Talking about books, the PICA Executive Chef Christian mentioned Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a book I later found out had been translated to many other languages, including Chinese (《廚室機密:烹飪深處的探險》).

On 阿麥書房部落格 it has this review:

《廚室機密:烹飪深處的探險》的作者伯爾頓是著名的廚師作家,他寫這本書,不是要教人如何加入廚師行列,而是要揭露餐館廚室中鮮為人知的秘密,當有既有趣聞韻事,亦有毫不光彩的勾當。但閱畢全書,你根本讀不出揭人陰私的臭氣,反而能體會到一件廚師對食客的重視。畢竟在餐館制度下,廚師和食客被重重隔開,使廚師的心意,未必能完全讓食客感受到。但其實,真正的美食,必定由用「心」的廚師所煮的。
--- 原載於 《細嚐飲食文化的情


Although those are the stories in the 70's or 80's, I'm sure similar 不光彩 things can happen today inside the restaurant kitchens.

After all, the dark side of business world is always there.

****

I wandered around on Robson St. for over two hours, mainly just to get a feel of this vibrant city--and, may be more importantly, trying to decide which restaurant I should go for dinner.

I wanted to try Guu. I heard a lot of good things about this restaurant, and I told my friends to try it out when they asked me for recommendations. Oh well, they tried and thought it's awesome, but I never get a chance myself. But then those restaurants are filled with couples and it'd be awkward eating alone in their settings (not to mention that I won't be able to try out a lot of different dishes). So I decided to step into Gyoza King, located just a few stores next to Guu with Galic.

The restaurant is a little run down, but the food is awesome. In fact it's the second time I've been here. The first time I was dumb I didn't order their signature dish--Gyoza! So this time I redeemed myself and got the shrimp/pork/chives gyoza.

It was the best I've ever had.

Similar to Shanghai's 小籠包, the gyoza is very juicy!

You can forget their ramen, at least not with miso soup base. It's too salty. The ramen isn't crisp enough to make your teeth... jump!

Oh well, maybe I'm just too used to eating instant noodles.

2 Comments:

At 11:59 上午, Anonymous Doug said...

wow uu must've spent sooo much time typing this blog, hahaha...

 
At 11:45 下午, Anonymous random touch said...

try the ramen around the corner at damien. pretty good!

 

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