Le Cordon Bleu Paris

Le Cordon Bleu Paris
Intensive Basic Cuisine. What would one envision? The word intensive defined by individuals may be subjective. What’s my definition?
Orientation day was fun and exciting. The anticipation was palpable. 
Day 2, slap in the face, wake up call. Left the house leisurely and enjoying my morning walk to school until I looked at the time. Walking turned to running. If I’m late, I’ll be counted as absent if the Chef does not let me in the classroom. Entered the locker room (You see, we have teeny lockers. We must only wear our uniforms in school, not outside of school as to not pick up germs). Fortunately, I’m in the corner of the locker room and have a little space. Unfortunately if the door was opened, I could potentially flash someone. Give and take, you know. Eventually, I do not care at this point. I’m frantically dressing into uniform (hair net, towel, neck tie, utensils, badge, shoes). We all learned how serious being on time was by observing a couple of guys were arriving late to the classroom, receiving a dirty look from the director. 
If you arrive too early, you may wait outside. You see, you may only enter a room when the Chef says you can. I made rustic soup for the first practical. It was to teach us chopping, I guess. So I chopped my thumb, and wore a finger condom. Overall, the soup was good. 
Chef's Rustic Vegetable Soup

Had enough time today to go to the bathroom once, and barely time to eat today. Is this the military?
I carried my tub of soup home, along with my unwashed knives (no time to wash them after the practical) about 12 pounds, and my purse. I walked back to my flat, taking breaks every 2 minutes.  Mind you, it’s cold, dark, and a long walk if you have that much weight on you.

Day 3

I learned my lesson yesterday so I left the house earlier to not end up running, thought I could get breakfast and withdrawal some US dollars at an ATM on way to school. Nope, it’s getting late. I, once again, end up running. Forget breakfast and money, just run. 
So, this is a side note. I’ve noticed no one eats in public in Paris, and find out that it’s public etiquette not to. So people, remember, no Starbucks cups, or chips while in public areas except for areas designated for eating. 
I was more confident today on how to dress, thankfully. Went to practical first thing in the morning to fillet a fish (first time). So my thought is, if you like to eat it, you should know how to cook it, right? None of this, “yew, it’s slimy and yucky business.” The days are set up like this: first demo, then practical. 
Practical Room
Demonstration Room

It made today a 5-6 hour day in the kitchen. Got fish blood on my apron. Shoot, now I have to wash and press it, otherwise I will be counted as absent. I got my second casualty. I got burned from a plate because the plate had to be in the oven to keep the food warm once it’s plated. Plates are cold at my house. So I wasn’t used to handling it. Today the chef tasted our dishes. The lemon sole with white wine sauce was “good,” the  poached chicken with supreme sauce and rice “au gras” was determined to be the salt being too salty, and the rice undercooked. Sigh. 
I tried the Metro, and had my husband meet me at the station. Cuts off some walking time, but I’ll use it only when I need to, probably for those late nights at the Le Cordon Bleu.

Oui Chef. Merci Chef, Bonsoir Chef. These are proper ways to respond to the chef. We are learning respect and humility. They are teaching us discipline and hygiene. I’m learning. Not that I had bad hygiene before. 

Day 4

I had to get my pants hemmed (required), so that was an extra errand I had to run. They were hemmed too short, however.
For now, I’m getting into the routine, sort of. I had to leave at 7:30 AM today to get there in plenty of time. I made French pizza (onion tart with olives and anchovies), and it was quite delicious (if you like onions...and anchovies). 
The tie towel tucked in our apron is used to handle hot handles and surfaces, but is far too thin in comparison to the customary oven mitts. I felt like I was in a comedy scene, dancing around the oven, clumsy and trying to get this hot pan out of the oven. Still burned myself. It was the first graded practical, with a Chef we have not worked with. He stood at the end of the granite counter watching. Unlike the first couple of days with Chefs assisting us. He tasted the crust=bon, tasted the tomato=bon, tasted the onions=bon travaillez (good work).

My Tart
Chef's Onion Tart

When excusing ourselves from the practical, we need to ask the chef if we may leave.
I go off to get some green nail polish to mark my knives. You would not believe how many students mistakenly take other students equipment. And our Wusthofs are valued at 900 euros.
I’ve come to realize that the chinois, fine wired strainer, is my friend. Gets the clumps and the impurities out.
There is no wifi at school, and as data dependent as I am, I’m getting used to it. 

The school gave the students a Wine and Cheese reception for Beaujolais Nouveau (it’s celebrated every third Thursday of November celebrating a new release of wine that is fermented only a few weeks before it’s release). Wine midday? At school? In the States it would be forbidden, but it’s because we drink too much. What a refreshing concept, to have wine midday without hassle. 

Fingers/hair/body/clothes smell like food. It’s in my skin now, not on it.

Day 5
Made a quiche lorraine today. Not so bad in preparation except for making the crust, not the premade frozen kind. Here comes the second and more difficult practical (having to start making the puff pastry in the am to finish in the pm. Puff pastry with leeks and poached egg and albufera sauce. It was the worst performance practical to date. I removed too much of the egg white, and it’s just plain ugly.


Discussed with an upper class man about the love of food. He happens to be an anesthesiologist by trade. The revelation is that the medical field evokes an intrinsic fulfillment. Food and the act of eating is a shared extrinsic fulfillment. 

Day 6

Technique, cautionary explanations of emergency protocol and use of our equipment, lasted 1 hour. YES!

Monday Day 7
We made crab bisque today, using live crabs. Le Cordon Bleu does it right, letting us prepare foods the way it is intended. I was the lucky one to not have to handle live crabs, however. There were none left for me since I was the last one to obtain them. The chef made other classmates share their crabs with me and most of their crabs were already dead through sautéing. I didn't realize that crushing the crabs with a rolling pin, and getting sprayed with crab juices and parts are necessary for bisque making. Definitely laundry night tonight. A lot goes into making a good dish. 
Another revelation: have fun with this and learn. The stress of making a dish turns negative when I forget the reason I’m here. 
Chef's Crab Bisque

Conclusion: I added too much cayenne, it was too thick, and my croutons weren’t sautéed enough. 

Tuesday Day 8
AM consumme was a success. It’s the removal of impurities from stock, using meats, vegetables, and eggs. See the picture below. Left is stock. Right is consumme. It becomes a very hearty and light soup. Contradicts itself doesn't it.

Yes, again, we had to make the cheese sticks using puff pastry. Puff pastry making takes a lot of time and energy. 


Chef's Consumme

In the pm I trussed a chicken again, but it’s easier this time. What is trussing? It’s using a large needle with string to pierce the chicken and enclose the cavity. I added bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic within. It was the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had, I’ve got to remember how I did this. The artichoke experience was not so fantastic.

Base of Artichoke
Had not ever cooked one before, and had to shave the leaves off, boil the base in lemon water, to make an edible bowl for vegetables. My artichokes turned brown, and one was undercooked. 


Wednesday Day 9
Grilled Salmon with emulsified butter sauce with chives and byron potatoes. The sauce had brown chives because I added them too early in the sauce making process. This salmon made every on me smell so bad. And, I left plenty of bones in salmon. This was also the first time I made diagonal crossed grill lines on anything. First time I grilled salmon actually. I unfortunately did not take a picture of my creation. I was rushed once again, and usually last to finish my dish. And, someone took my prepared salmon so I could not find it as I was plating my dish. This is what it was supposed to look like.
Chef's beautiful salmon
Addendum: Post 4 days...I still smell salmon in my uniform even after washing x 2. And, I'm using Febreze over that. 

Thursday Day 10

Paupiettes de veau bourgeosie (stuffed veal rolls with glazed vegetables) in AM, PM was Stuffed chicken breasts, sauce and mushrooms.
The stuffed veal in the am was wonderful. Veal fillets stuffed with ground veal, ground pork, mixed with armagnac and encased with fat back, pan seared in duck fat, and roasted on a bed of vegetables. So wonderful! But I burned myself today, so did about 7 other students. 
Chef's Paupiette
My Paupiette

The PM practical was not so wonderful. We stuffed minced chicken within a chicken breast, turned mushrooms (technique to decorate them which took forever and I never did get it right). This was the first time I've thought I would not pass this class. You see, I tried a different writing technique, hopefully to make my food preparation faster. It did not. I burned my chicken, sauce was runny and oily. I took shortcuts.  I really need to let my pace be what it is. The negative part about being slow is that ingredients run low, or missing.


I had a chance to get my hair cut in between classes. I’m not sure what in my right mind decide to allow myself to do this. Thanks to a classmate who interpreted what I wanted, written on a piece of paper (cut long layers, keep length, cut 1-2 cm). I walked into the salon, know one spoke English, and the clientele was older. But, my tangled long hair had to be dealt with. My heart started being fast and I thought how dumb I was to get a haircut in a foreign country without knowing the language to tell them what I wanted, as she cut large chunks of my hair off. Nice surprise, it looks wonderful!  Happy Thanksgiving.

Friday Day 11
Chef took us to the market today. What a phenomenal experience, seeing all sorts of uncustomary American things, like:

Goat Cheese Farmer
Viva Les Fromages

Lamb Testicles (in season)
Of course, crepe

Tried horse sausage made from 100% Canadian horse. It tasted like ham. 
Chef purchased lunch for us from the market (nothing outlandish of course), and served us red wine. Thank you Chef for preparing our lunch from our market outing. I'm in love with terrines, caneles, macaroons, blood sausage, cheese, and bread. 

Had the privilege of making a dish with rabbit with mustard and sautéed potatoes. We each got a whole de-furred rabbit to fillet. Yes, they are cute animals, but I really didn’t have a hard time doing this. It was my first time tasting and preparing a rabbit. Delicious! Hate that I enjoyed it so much. I went into this demonstration thinking I will take less notes, and just go at my slow pace during the practical. The dish was better than the previous one from yesterday afternoon, appropriate thickness of sauce (no oil streaks or dots), but did overcook kidney and liver, however. As I was thinking that even if I don't perform well with dishes, at least I keep my station clean. As I was thinking that very thought, Chef asked me to clean my station. 

Chef's rabbit with mustard and sautéed potatoes

Saturday Day 12
Only one practical today, hake steak. Silly me for assuming that we didn’t have to “darne” the fish itself, that it would be done for us. Of course not. Darne is a transverse cut of a large round fish. Honestly, I have more of a problem with filleting fish than  rabbit. To each his own struggles. Dumb scales. Dumb guts. Dumb slimy tecture. Hake happens to be a very good fish though. I was glad to be introduced. 
Hake Fish

I cooked the fish for too long. It really should have been poached for 7 minutes. The hollandaise sauce demands respect. I kept on asking the chef...is it time to add the clarified butter now? How about now? Now ok? Ok to add butter? I whisked and whisked. Happy to say it turned out ok, under supervision of Chef of course.
Chef's Hake Steak

Off to the convention of small wineries! Didn’t get through many samplings, there were too many of them, about 1000 vineyards.

Rest. Cleaned the flat. Run in Luxembourg Gardens.

Monday Day 13

Brill is a flat fish I was introduced to today. Apparently there are more than one flat fish (I only knew of the flounder). 
Brill Fish

The most involved part of this dish was the doggone turned potatoes. These are potatoes that is shaped by a pairing knife to have 7 sides and oval shape. When the potatoes are turned “l’anglais” they are 2 inches long.
Turned potatoes, don't be fooled, I got this image from the internet, they are not mine.
Anyways, I have not perfected this technique, far from it, and they were not cooked long enough. My potatoes had to be transected to determine doneness. Chef also wants more salt in the sauce. New strategy retrieve vegetables for myself. We run out and I get stuck with using little or none...for instance today's shallots was left out of sauce. 
Chef's brill fillet in white wine sauce
My brill fillet in white wine sauce

Demo today with sirloin. Finally beef!!!
I feel like such a piglet thanks to pastry students. 
Would love to finish my diploma here, but miss my family so much. 
My feet hurts from walking, but would not dare to wear tennis shoes here.

Tuesday Day 14

Beef/Sirloin. Finally. I like mine rare to medium rare, but, I wasn't too crazy about the taste of this sirloin myself. Maybe it was just me. My mashed potatoes did not have enough butter or milk. What can I say, there were my first mashed potatoes ever. 

We got our midterm grades today. Our team has the lowest class average unfortunately. I have a theory why, but am not at the liberty of discussing that. I at least have higher than average for my team.
The school invited us to attend a dinner at Le Train Bleu restaurant in the Gare de Lyon train station tonight. I would like to type more, but am fully exhausted.
Gare de Lyon Train Station
Inside Le Train Bleu

Wednesday Day 15
Beef burgundy, marinaded since yesterday. What a mess it was. So, we have different chefs for different practicals, some are more lax, some are more strict, they each have their individual teaching and grading styles. We had a different chef today, whom we had not worked with. He was like a drill sergeant, and I kind of liked it. Well, so my beef burgundy. The sauce was too thick, I had not added the stock and wine mixture fully. Chef said it broke his heart. Yes, my beef burgundy broke his heart. I told him it had already broken mine. In all honesty, I enjoyed the flavor, just hated that chef didn't like it. He said I added too much tomato paste. I had a little more success turning the potatoes today because he allowed us to not have exactly 7 sides to it. 
Chef's Beef Burgundy

I made mayonnaise today. How about that? It went with the deep fried jumbo shrimp with tartare sauce. It is WORK to whisk that thing! The shrimp's batter was too thick, per chef. I also needed more herbs in my tartare. He said it was "good." C'est bon. When will it be "parfait" or "magnifique?" Even a "tres bon" would be great. Well, I'm not there to be perfect, I'm there to learn.
Chef's Fried Jumbo Shrimp

My cheese soufflé, demonstrated early in our training, we had to make. Of course that demonstration seemed like months ago. 
My soufflé ended up trying to escape. 
My tower of Pisa Soufflé
Tomorrow we have 2 demonstrations and 2 practicals. 12 hour day.

Thursday Day 16

Woke up with s scratchy throat, so started taking vitamin C.
Made it through the first demonstration, and struggled through the first practical. We also had a fire drilling which I had just been handling the veal, so walked out of the building with my palms up. 

For some odd reason, my dish turned out really well. We prepared traditional veal stew (blanquette de veau a l'ancienne). My sauce had good consistency. My rice could have been cooked a little longer (chef said that he prefers the way I cooked them). You should have seen chef bite off half of a grain of rice, and inspect the center. And my veal was tender. The only negative was that he told me to be more center in my plating. AND, I was not the last one to finish. When I finished the practical, I ran out the school, without my coat, to the pharmacy to buy throat lozenges and aspirin with vitamin C.
Chef's Veal

For our second practical we grilled tenderloin with diagonal crossed grill lines. I botched up my béarnaise sauce, so chef helped me make another batch. The formal name of the dish is grilled tournedos with béarnaise sauce, potatoes "pont neuf."

It's the Chef's, not mine
Interpreter asked if I was ok. Chef asked if I was ok. I must have looked like death. Chef supplied me with thyme and honey for a home remedy. It works! Seep the thyme sprig in boiling/hot water. Then add honey.
Going to bed now.

Friday day 17
Sore throat but thankfully an easy day. Class in hygiene and food safety in am, then came home and slept. Then went back to school. Ate about everything in site trying to make myself feel better. It's not working. Need rest for tomorrow's sautéed veal. 

Saturday Day 18
Cotes de veau grand-mere (sautéed veal chops, "grand-mere" style garnish with glazed onions, mushrooms and lardons) is what we prepared today. Not much was really said about my veal, but jus was too watery. I had a tough time getting the oil out so to not be too oily was a score for me.  
Chef's Veal

My classmate said that she has noticed that I was getting confident in the kitchen, and I really am feeling that way more and more, even though I'm still slow. I've noticed that my potatoes are turned a little better, sometimes 6 sides instead of 7, but hey, I have to pick my battles.  We had a 3 hour break so I went to Starbucks, and looked over some French vocabulary terms, as well as take a little nap with my head resting against a wall. Tomorrow is our last Sunday before our written exam, so it will be all about studying. Somewhat heartbreaking to be in Paris and studying. 

No I didn't, yes I did.

My food cravings were really wild today.

Day of rest. Studied a little for our written exam on Friday. I am also not looking forward to being the assistant this week (gathering ingredients and supplies from the basement kitchen for our practicals). 

Day 19 Monday 

I made duckling with turnips today. I’m learning to turn any vegetables, today turnips. Sear the duck more for crispy skin, says Chef. Remove ends of the breast fillet on plating for better appearance. Remember to pierce the side of wing to see if juices are clear if done. Better to have cooked vegetables a little longer. I still have plating issues. Add dimension with height. Turnips and onion had good flavor. Onions could have cooked a little more. Well done, says Chef. 
Chef's Duckling and Turnip
My duckling and turnip

Was at Starbucks during my break to study. I'm so fooding. I can't believe I'm studying food. Love this. 
My high lasted a short while. 

The demo lasted past time, which then my classmate and I had to rush to get our ingredients for the practical. We are assistants this week so we have to get the ingredients and prepare for the practicals, and clean afterwards. I made beef stroganoff. Not the one like the states. Paprika sauce. My sauce, too liquid. My meat need to be sliced more batonnet, thicker, and cooked more. Learned about etuver cooking.
Chef's Stroganoff
My Stroganoff

I received a nice compliment from Chef however. He said my brunoise was perfect. I was proud of that for a moment, then I forgot things, like adding cream to the sauce, or wondering why I was just standing there.
Brunoise zucchini and carrots of 1-2mm cubes compared to  rice.
I wish I had more time to study for these exams. There is no time. I thought I had advantages. I took French for five years. I love food. I have a masters degree. This course is kicking my tail. 

Day 20 Tuesday 

I think I'm getting used to the smell of my fingers, because certainly they have not just neutralized on their own. We just had a demo this morning, and had a five hour break, and I'm so grateful because I study get some. Although, I could have studied more, and harder. We made pork with Dauphine potatoes. My meat was so cold, but I told the chef about it and he didn't seem to care. He really enjoyed my Dauphine potatoes, but he was the one who helped me make them. 
Chef's Pork with Dauphine Potatoes
My Pork 

I think, in general, I do a lot better when I have time to look over the demo notes. I don't have to much time to study anymore this week. I'm really concerned. 
I raided a tray of refrigerated macarons in the sous sol kitchen. Didn't mean to eat 5. Really. 
I fabreze my hair these days. Betcha you didn't know that. 

Day 21 Wednesday

My fat jeans are shrinking and turning into skinny jeans, and it hurts. Doggone pastries that the pastry students make keep me in trouble. First thing this morning, a practical. Chicken again. This time not trussed, but separated into bone in and bone less parts, sautéed and braised. Chef said my vegetables had too much oil, and they fell after placing them in a special mold (for looks, you know). Thigh meat was cooked well, but the breasts were overcooked. The tomatoes were also undercooked. The french and their vegetables, they love it mushy. They call the American al dente vegetables "hospital food." So opposite. Yes, lesson learned. Breasts cook faster than thighs. 
Chef's Chicken with Italian Vegetables
My Chicken

Afterwards we had a demonstration, then a technique class. They let us out early tonight. Well, earlier than usual, so I got home at 8pm. Still a 12 hour day. I usually get home around 10:15pm. As worried as I am about Friday's exam, I have got to rest. Woke up with another sore throat today. Not resting and not drinking enough fluids during the day, I think. So inconvenient to use the restroom. 
Oh, yes. Found out about our practical exam. Will have one out of 10 dishes. Will stand in front of the ingredients placed in front at the station. We have 2.5 hours to complete the task. Points deducted if late. Jury of retired chefs in Paris will taste and score us. Mandatory glazing of 10 pearl onions. This practical exam will count 45% of our grade. 

Day 22 Thursday 

Worn smack out. Made fish terrine today. Odd, but it reminds me of Chinese fish balls. A little fluffier though. Chef was disappointed that we all under seasoned our terrines. My sauce was good however. 
Chef's Fish Terrine with Beurre Blanc

Had a break today so I studied. But took naps too. Was afraid I was getting sick again. 
Went back to school for a demo. I walked there instead of taking the metro because I have not exercised in so long.
So much work. So exhausting. I just want to pass. 
Tomorrow morning fish filleting. Sea bream. Remind you, I'm still the assistant this week. I want to sleep for a whole day when I get home.

Day 23 Friday

"The excitement is absolutely over" was exactly what I thought today when I woke up. Was not in the mood to clean and fillet a sea bream at 8:30 am. Then take a written exam I wasn't ready for. But, I had to do this anyways. The practical. Ha. That was a sarcastic ha. Finished late (the whole class did). I can't discuss what happened, but it wasn't a positive one. 
Chef's Sea Bream and Fennel

Had a break over lunch to cram for the exam. I never was one to say, "I can't study anymore, if I don't know it by now..." My best retention is in cramming right before the test. Before then, however, there was a demo. 
Written exam. Not as terrible as I thought. Some absurd questions, like any test. Will keep you posted, when I get posted. Crossing my fingers for a passing grade.

Day 24 Saturday

Saturday classes, well, the metro is unusually empty at 7:30AM. Teamed up with a classmate of mine to make this enormous portion of a dish. Pasta and veal. It happens to be the same classmate who is the other assistant with me this week. So she was in charge with making the pasta. I blanched, peeled, seeded, and chopped the tomatoes for the sauce. We made an excellent team, but I am unsure if Chef deducted points from my grade. Hope not. He was positive with my dish. Pasta cooked well, so was the veal. My tomatoes were not cooked enough, again. That's the trend to my vegetables. I was worried about my over cooked pasta, but he said it was good. 
Chef's Pasta
Chef's Veal


Went to a chocolate store (Belgium chocolate) and ate too much for/at lunch. Then went to Luxembourg gardens and jogged a little. 
Purchased boudin noir, boudin blanc, goose rillettes from Gilles Verot (a nearby charcuterie shop with lines of people always). The person selling me the products told me to speak as much French as I could...you should have been there, it was embarrassing. And, she happened to speak perfect English. I don't know why she would want me to struggle like that. I also got a baguette nearby. Made me feel so French.
Ok, can't study at all tonight. Will have to be full speed tomorrow. Practical exam coming up.
Hilarious. Had a nightmare last night that my scale broke. I was devastated in my dream. haha.

Sunday (December 11)

Day 25 Monday
We have our last practical today! At points I think to myself I love this so much and then there're moments in time I think when will this be over. We made a duck with orange sauce today. The sauce is sweet-and-sour, and was delicious with the duck. The orange peels almost tasted candied. The breast, huge. I tried to make the skin crispy because chef likes it that way. So do I. 
Chef's Duck with Orange Sauce

Afterwords we went to classmates apartment to go over the dishes for the practical exam. We ordered Dominoes pizza. It was still very French. We ordered the three cheese pizza which included camembert, goat, and blue cheese. Combinations I've not ever had on pizza. My international friends included one from Russia, one from Lebanon, one from Chili, one from Canada, one from Greece, and yours truly U.S. Minimal requirement to be there, two languages. Just kidding, had I known just English, they still would have included me.

I found out I passed my written exam today!
Now off to study the practical exam!

Day 26 Tuesday 
My brain hurts, I'm so confused. All of these recipes look alike. Same ingredients, similar techniques that are close enough to confuse me. 
At the last demo today, we had champagne. Afterwards, we went to the same classmates house that we were at last night. We had purchased a chicken to practice dressing it and trussing it. Another classmate brought Dom Perignon 2002, so it was like a champagne and chicken party. Funny thing is that the group, myself included, had brought (and to replace) the Cokes we drank the previous night. Cokes vs Dom. Winner obvious. 
Chicken in Background

I came home and after lugging my knife set around Paris, I cleaned and sharpened my knives. Then I made a video and post it like I had nothing else to do. So even after sitting down and studying, I am still confused and I seriously need more time. I'll have to wake up early tomorrow morning before the practical and study more. My brain hurts. I'm sure I already said that. 

Wednesday Day 27
Worn little to no makeup so points aren't deducted. Carried 3 bags with me: 12 pound knife set, bag of studying papers, and purse. Looking forward to hulling things from the locker today. I'm being sarcastic. 
I'm leaning and trusting on doing my best. The recipes are still floating around in my head, like why is there cream in the sauce and thickening agent in the blanquette de veau (veal stew). I'm on metro now.
Our team listened to Eye of the Tiger Rocky theme outside of the practical room. I was the last one to enter, so the Chef drew out my chip, the last in the envelope. Sure enough, veal stew. I walked to my station, apparently not fully knowing where I was supposed to be. A team member moved my carving board over, another team member said that I'm not there, that she was in fact there. So first off, confusion. It was a station I had not cooked on. Different burners, different knobs, and different oven. I was frustrated when I realized that the knobs to my burners had no numbers, no heat settings because they have been rubbed off. The numbers usually goes from 1 to 6. 1 being the lowest, 6 being the highest. 3 out of the 4 knobs were like this so I had to depend on the one and only one knob with the numbers to help guide me. Because of the inability to identify the heat settings on the burners, I let my stew sit there for at least 20 minutes without boiling. You see, it's supposed to boil first, then simmer for an hour or more. The 10 glazed onions (our technical dish, one that we had to do regardless of our chosen exam dish) were looking very grim. I guess I had placed too much water in it, so 2 fell apart. I thought the most logical thing was to use a couple of pearl onions from my stew and glaze them. UNTIL, I realized I had absolutely burned them. I was unaware that my burner was so hot. Charred. Ok, so my next thought was still to add the better looking onions in with my glazed onion dish. I didn't think that the burnt ones really weren't cooked thoroughly, just burnt on the outside. Regardless, I thought I had created a solution. My 200 grams of pearl onions for my stew was ruined so instead of 200 grams, I peeled and cooked 50 grams. It was all I had time for. Stupid stove knobs without numbers. Crap practical exam. I almost cried, imagining me quitting, setting down my utensils, and leaving. I got composure somehow, and cooked my stew. 

Goofing off after the exam!

Graduation tomorrow hopefully. And awaiting any message from school that I did not pass. 
I also placed myself on waiting list for intermediate. I can't believe I want more of this stuff. 
Went to the Pantheon, Place des Vosges, home, dinner at the Le Dome du Marais restaurant, then home. I love my new friends. 
Good, no email from school.

Thursday day 28

Graduation. I walked. I don't understand the grading system, but I know my grades suffered because of the catastrophe yesterday. The most important and valuable thing is that I passed. 
This has been a wild and wonderful journey into food, and my hope is to continue on with my learning. Thank you, Le Cordon Bleu Paris, for your passion in cuisine and for your expertise in teaching. This experience will be a part of me forever.
Getting my certificate