A French Adventure

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by bouland, Aug 4, 2001.

  1. bouland

    bouland

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    I seem to have developed a strange hobby. A couple of times a year I go to France and work in a kitchen at a Michelin-starred restaurant. I've found this to be an excellent way of learning how little I know and to add to my limited body of knowledge and experience. Last march I spent time in a kitchen in the medieval village of Riquewihr in the Alsace. I've placed a diary of my experience there at the Auberge du Schœnenbourg on my web site.

    I'd also be interested in hearing from others who have had similar adventures.
     
  2. momoreg

    momoreg

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    Bouland, thank you for sharing your 'obsession' with us ;) .
    Very nice site!
     
  3. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    I really enjoyed reading the article. How lucky you are! Riquewihr is a wonderful village. I fondly remember drinking crisp Alsatian wines and enjoying the beautiful flowers the summer I was there. It's on the Route de vins d'Alsace, right?

    [ August 05, 2001: Message edited by: Mezzaluna ]
     
  4. bouland

    bouland

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    Mezzaluna: oui!
     
  5. bayou

    bayou

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    Bouland, sounds like you had a great time. I was in the village of Roanne last May cooking at the Chateau de Matel, had a great time with Chef Jean Marc Villard. My biggest surprize was the Andouille, not likle the andouille served here in Louisiana.
     
  6. anneke

    anneke

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    Bouland, I really enjoyed your story. Maybe you should post a link to it in the beginners forum or the culinary students' forum; this is the kind of insight that can be very useful to someone curious about life in the kitchen.

    I found it interesting that in this Riquewihr kitchen, the staff ate together. At the restaurant where I work,and I'm guessing in most restaurants in America, it's eat as you go if you can spare half a second!

    Thanks for sharing!
     
  7. bouland

    bouland

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    Anneke: I suspect they are able to eat together in France because, for the most part, the entire kitchen staff has the same schedule. They mostly arrive and leave at the same time. At the restaurant I work at in the Jura, mise ne place goes from about 9am to 11:45am followed by 30 minutes for a lunch break. Lunch service is from 12:30 to 14:00. There's a break until about 16:00 when mise ne place starts again. Dinner break is about 18:30 for 30 minutes. Dinner service is from 20:00 until completion — about 23:00 in the restaurant. When there are banquets, dinner service is usually done by 0:30, or sometimes later. Those are real long days!
     
  8. papa

    papa

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    Dear Bouland:

    I enjoyed visiting your web site!

    You brought back so many memories!

    I understand that currently France is experiencing a shortage in the field of culinary professionals and they are hiring a lot of people from other countries. I saw a special report on this issue on the morning news of France 2. Have you seen that?

    :)
     
  9. kimmie

    kimmie

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    Ah Bouland,

    Thank you so much for sharing your French Adventure. Such a good read!

    BTW, did it occur to you that the meat used for the oeuf à cheval –– a hamburger with a fried egg on top is horsemeat? It is a French delicacy isn't it?

    :rolleyes:
     
  10. bouland

    bouland

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    Papa: Yes, that's a problem in France like it is here in California. I remember seeing signs in Paris a few years back on the windows at a couple of the smaller restaurants that the chef was French — not some other nationality. Very few young French make a areer of the culinary trades any more — bad hours and low pay. One of my chef friends feel that these young cooks no longer want to take pride in their work. BTW, I didn't see the program on France2.

    Kimmie: My experience in France is that they translate œuf à cheval as an egg on horseback. In this case I know it was beef — it was ground from the trimmings of the fillets and tenderloins sold in the restaurant. It is no longer common to find horsemeat served in France. It is available in some locations. I seem to remember reading an article last year about the last restaurant that specialized in horsemeat in Paris shutting down. I do know of at least one place that still sells a horseburger.
     
  11. live_to_cook

    live_to_cook

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    Great site, excellent article. But how come you left out what you were doing amid the furor of service?
     
  12. bouland

    bouland

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    live_to_cook: do you mean what I was doing in the kitchen for those 11 days or how I wound up being there in the first place?
     
  13. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    The French version of andouille: I seem to remember tripe is a major ingredient. I tried this, and was very glad to have free access to the mustard pot! Not my tasse du the, mes amis.
     
  14. bouland

    bouland

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    Mezzaluna: Actually, most of the time I've eaten andouille in France the filling was made from pig intestines. I have some recipes if you'd like to make your own.
     
  15. mezzaluna

    mezzaluna

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    Non, merci! Eating prepared andouille once was quite enough! :eek: However, as I've mentioned to Papa, I am willing to try the Greek equivalent: kokoretsi. What, no Greek mustard? Pass the tzadziki, please!

    [ August 24, 2001: Message edited by: Mezzaluna ]
     
  16. bouland

    bouland

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    ChefKev: I make my contacts either directly or through mutual friends. I usually try to have a phone conversation with a chef before I show up and to verbally confirm the arrangements. I then follow-up the conversation with a confirming fax. A lot depends on what your goals are and what your experience is. Being an experienced chef doesn't necessarily help because you'll still do low level work and spend a lot of time observing. Afterall, you're just there for a few days. That is unless you want to work for a season, then you can really get in the middle of everything. I have seen a couple of people on the web offering to set up trips like the ones I take, but I don't see what they have to offer over what I can arrange directly, except the opportunity to greatly increase the cost.

    If you'd like a little less kitchen work and a little more good eating, I'd suggest looking at one of the trips put together by Les Liaisons Délicieuses, a group in Washington, DC, with lots of experience in placing groups in Michelin-starred restaurants.