ten-courses of stress, burnt hands, and a bit too much love for a British soap opera

Last night, I served and helped prepare a ten-course dinner and lived to tell the tale.

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Every quarter, the class that runs the dinner service at the restaurant at my school has to prepare an end-of-quarter dinner for the faculty and staff. Usually, they put together a few courses, the teachers eat, and they leave.

We decided to be overachievers and do a quasi-traditional early 20th century English formal dinner based around the best show on television…Downton Abbey.

I won’t get myself distracted and ramble on about the show, just know that I was SO EXCITED when we decided on the theme. Its easily my favorite show (close second is Duck Dynasty…British high society & rednecks, don’t judge me); I tried to take home the picture of Matthew Crawley in his military uniform from the tablescape…but then I decided not to show my classmates how weird I really am.

Everyone in the class split up and tackled the courses separately because of the sheer volume of work to do. I helped prep with pastry (with my two friends Hailey and Chris), made a delicious chocolate pavlova (which I will be sharing a cookie version of later!), and most importantly hand served, 2 plates at a time, all ten courses with my friend and classmate Marshall. Marshall also made the beautiful amuse bouche you’ll see below. While I’m doing shout outs, I can’t forget my best school friend Jason! He developed a good portion of the menu with our Chef and is responsible for all of the proteins. He’s a damn fine cook and I’m so glad he’s the first person I met in culinary school.

Now enough with the talking…on with the food porn! Also!!! Come back tonight for a new recipe…it rhymes with brocolate hip bookies.

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one of the tablescapes

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another tablescape. you can see the picture I contemplated stealing in the middle…

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marshall’s amuse bouche: blood orange, fennel, goat cheese mousse, on crostini

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water and amuse ready to go out. right now my nerves were eating me alive. i was about to serve a formal dinner to the people who control whether I graduate on time, a bit terrifying.

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appetizer: white chocolate poached & seared scallop, red onion compote, corn cake

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soup: consomme de poulet double en croute with garnish of brunoise vegetables and chicken

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fish: fillet of dover sole, sauce mousseline, crab, lemon risotto, broccolini

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poultry: grilled breast of squab, port wine glace, mushroom polenta, baby vegetables

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intermezzo: blood orange sorbet with candied peel

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roast: pecan crusted rack of lamb, dried cherry glace, mint caviar, cheddar mashed potato, tourne vegetables

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salad: mache, roasted baby beet, tomato, goat cheese, white balsamic vinaigrette

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dessert 1: raspberry charlotte

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dessert 2: chocolate pavlova

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dessert 3: lavender lemon creme brûlée

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confection: tuxedo dipped strawberries (to match the Downton staff formal uniforms!)

…and that’s the end! Our teachers loved it and many of the chefs and the dean all said it was the best end-of-quarter dinner they’ve had. I’m so proud of everyone in my A La Carte class, we went from being fools who had no clue how to run a restaurant on our own to this. So sad it’s over…but that just means I’m one step closer to graduation!

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