Pressure

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Joined Apr 6, 2010
Im sorry if this comes off as a blog type post...

Today I had my first practical exam. We were to chop a carrot with four different cuts, dice an onion , chop parsley and fabricate a chicken into 8 pieces.

I did decently with the cuts, but fell apart with the chicken. I'd cut one leg and when I'd go to the other it wouldn't be as easy, same with the wings and getting the breasts off was hard to do.

I ended up getting a C, and teared up a bit when my professor told me I need to practice more.

Its the first time culinary has brought me to tears, and I'm wondering if its normal to put a lot of pressure on yourself to succeed? I'm not at all reconsidering my major but I'm just surprise that cooking has got me emotional.

Is it normal?
 
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It's a normal reaction to pressure.  Or, rather to the release of pressure.  You'll feel the pressure less as you get used to it, and as you have the opportunity to practice and excel.  I can help you a little to deal with pressure, but much more with the chicken and things like it.

If you want practical help start a thread in the general cooking forum.  Don't be afraid to ask for help with technique at school and here too.  There are a lot of experienced folks here who would like nothing better than to help you out. 

BDL
 
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I think emotional means that you care, whereas if you got a C on your practical and didn't care, we wouldn't be having this discussion. I think it is GREAT that you got emotional. It is an outward indicator that you want to do well. I say, Bravo! Now, do an 8-cut chicken again. And again. And again. Until it is perfect. And then do it again, just to make sure. The practical you experienced is nearly identical to one that I conduct with my students. The results we see are as varied as the individuals themselves. As we move through the year, the results should become more consistent, both for the individual as well as the group.

So, stay on your horse! I think you are off to a great start. Stay emotional!
 
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don't worry, it was in my case the same situation. I remember my first practical exam. it was a disaster, but i learn so much from that. don't let you bring down because of that, head up!! practice make the difference.

i agree with Jim:

"do an 8-cut chicken again. And again. And again. Until it is perfect. And then do it again, just to make sure."
 
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Chalk it up to experience and the next time the past experience will help you get an A
 
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Joined Oct 30, 2010
breakfast, lunch and dinner.  There are so many diffrent ways to cook chicken-besides I'm sure that all your family, and friends ( who aren't in culinary school) wouldn't mind buying you you chicken for you to cut up.

 If you get friends are taking different lab classes then you, then you've got the chicken for them, dice the onions. Will someone helps make the bread, someone else makes the cake, and somebody else makes a really nice sauce or someone else cooks the chicken. a whole another person, plates all up. this way everyone gets to practice what they need, and then you will altogether. This is what I did a lot when I was in culinary school. It's the only way that we all could afford to get some practice, as well as eat.
 
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What in the snot are we supposed to do with the 50 chickens we've just cut up?
Interestingly enough, with the cut chicken, we use it in our student-run cafe for menu items. Additionally, the carcasses go into the stock, the pulled tenderloins become breaded chicken 'fingers' for kid lunches, etc. Chicken goes a million miles in a QSR, short-order and a la carte operation. So, the abundance of product, even if it is cut and tossed into the freezer, will most certainly be used.
 
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That's great for a school, but if a student is practicing, I'd assume that happens away from school.  I'm just trying to imagine some poor schlup buying out the whole chicken section of a grocery store and having chicken parts everywhere /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif.  Besides, when you're done, you'll have 2 breasts and 6 pieces that no one uses.  On top of that, the breast won't be boneless and skinless.  Oh the horror!
 
Interestingly enough, with the cut chicken, we use it in our student-run cafe for menu items. Additionally, the carcasses go into the stock, the pulled tenderloins become breaded chicken 'fingers' for kid lunches, etc. Chicken goes a million miles in a QSR, short-order and a la carte operation. So, the abundance of product, even if it is cut and tossed into the freezer, will most certainly be used.
 
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That's great for a school, but if a student is practicing, I'd assume that happens away from school.  I'm just trying to imagine some poor schlup buying out the whole chicken section of a grocery store and having chicken parts everywhere /img/vbsmilies/smilies//smile.gif.  Besides, when you're done, you'll have 2 breasts and 6 pieces that no one uses.  On top of that, the breast won't be boneless and skinless.  Oh the horror!
 
I "beg to differ"! You will have six wonderfully delicious chicken pieces and two "sponges" for whatever sauce you desire. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gifOK, I was being nice, with a little work, the breasts CAN be made into something edible/img/vbsmilies/smilies/talker.gif
 
 
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Joined Sep 19, 2010
Zane,  feeling under pressure is completely normal.  As the Chefs have said, it shows you care; which is why you are where you are today.  In school and moving towards a career you feel something for.

I'm nearing the end of the school course and still feel the pressure.  Every night before/during an exam (some are two days) I spend the night unable to sleep.  My mind keeps going over what I need to do, what are the steps/processes I need to do to get the job done; in time, presented well and cooked to my best ability.

You will find that cutting up meats and vegetables will become easier, but than new techniques (cooking eggs properly, knowing how to make a decent French Butter Cream...etc) will come to plague you.  

All I can say is when you feel the pressure, cry a tear or two and keep practicing.  You'll get there.     
 
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   Zane, don't feel like a lone stranger.  I am in my first semester of classes.  One of my group cooking partners runs a catering business.  Here I am, just having gotten interested in cooking 3 or 4 years ago (when my life started utterly changing) and I am in the same class that she is!  I am ok on the academic side of things, but am sorely lacking in practical experience right now.  My ex's did all the cooking, until my life changed so much.  We have approximately a month and a half before the final exams come about( that is both a written and practical exam).  I keep going:  "Oh my god, what on earth am I doing here?"

   Next semester, I've scheduled to take garde manger, saucier, and a la carte cooking.   At the moment, I am wondering if I have totally flipped my wig, in going for this.  I am really going to be freaking out come the practical exams this next month.   Nadeest
 
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My first practical was a little opposite yours. The chicken thing was quite easy. I found that to come natural. But I was an absolute disaster with knife cuts.

This is where they broke out the ruler and started looking at if you cut them correctly. Tourne' frustrated me to no end (still does) and for some odd reason I couldn't cut anything square... everything was a bit rectangular.

So what did I do? I went and grabbed a bag of potatoes and just started cutting. The intention was to go through like 2 potatoes a day choose a cut and just go for it.

Now, they're still not perfect but, since I stuck with it. They're not nearly as bad as they were.
 
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Joined May 4, 2010
i don't understand the confusion...  learn how to fabricate a chicken... mystery solved... yeah practical's suck, especially when you don't know what product you have, or what is really expected of you.

you know how to fabricate a chicken because Chef told you how to, and showed you how to, and probably asked you to do it several times before s/he based your exam on it. I guarantee he/she did because it's in all our textbooks, from day one, and there's no program in the Western World that would pretend otherwise.

We're talking ABC's here. Like arriving at Elementary Grade 6 (age 12: America) and you show up to class saying, "oh Dios Mio, I don't know how to count to 5!?!".

Are you going to waste 2.5 hours crying about how bad shrimp smell when Chef tells you prep (devein/shell/etc) them? Are you going to get all teary-eyed when Chef wants you to debone a rabbit?

Are you in?

Or are you out (got all the excuses lined up)?

Get it straight now, cause life doesn't happen later...

(thought we were talking about pressure here...)
 
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Ah here lies the answer as to what makes a Chef and a cook different. The Chef will have a pre plan and know what to do with the chickens. The cook may not.
 
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bottom line... Chef?

bottom line... cook.

what is the bottom line?

Time... Yield... Percentage... yes Chef?

No time for tears... (sorry and hugs and all)... but, are you with us?

Buck up cook. Buck up friend, get it done.
 
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Joined Jun 17, 2008
Give yourself a break. You aren't going to do perfectly at everything. Just always do your best. Next time you do a chicken you will do it better. Feeling emotional means you care. It means you want to get it right. I'd rather see that than someone who doesn't care. Next time if you can try to practice before.
 
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