For the last few weeks, I’ve been working my butt off in a local catering company, producing in mass some of the most appetizing food I’ve ever seen in my life. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you may remember my last two internships during culinary school were done at this company, and I was very enthusiastic about them. I’m still enthusiastic, albeit exhausted. I had no idea when I interned in March and April just how busy they could get in the middle of summer what with all the weddings, big-ticket events and parties to cater. We’ve been working incredibly long hours and my feet are killing me, but I’m learning a lot and making money doing it!
In between dicing 30 pounds of green bean or blanching, gutting and chopping 200 tomatoes, I’ve learned to master making mayonnaise that really holds up (and tastes great!), an olive tapenade that will leave you wanting more, and the most superb Thai pasta salad ever. I’ve also plated hundreds of fancy-schmancy dishes, including the ones in the photos that I’ve posted here: asparagus spears with a poached egg, roasted summer vegetables, in-house salt-cured salmon, whipped cèpe-infused marscapone and whole prawns; asparagus soup with cod brandade, a brunoise of cooked and raw vegetables and asparagus tips; asparagus soup with fresh peas, lobster medallions, asparagus and seared scallops. And these are just the plates I’ve managed to snap photos of! Last week we made artichokes stuffed with a truffled celeriac brunoise and topped with a seared scallop, a lobster claw and garlic-roasted shrimp. There has also been fabulous salmon tartar, sesame-coated chicken breasts, tabouleh salads and hundreds of canapés made with toasted walnut bread, roquefort mousse and pine nuts.
This place is the fourth largest catering company in all of France and has landed some pretty huge contracts lately. Two years ago they moved into all-new super-modern premises and haven’t stopped growing since. I feel very lucky to be a part of this business in my own way, and although I’m not sure how long this employment opportunity will last, I’m making the best of each and every day, suffering through fatigue and physical pain and discomfort (our longest day so far was 17 hours!) in order to learn more about this business. Despite all the sacrifices I’m making and the tough nature of the job, it feels good to be working for such a great company and getting paid to work in food!
We’ve got another rough week ahead of us as the Armada (a huge, international boat show in Rouen that happens every five years) is in full swing – and we’re catering it. That’s tens of thousands of canapés and bouchées and hors d’oeuvres, not to mention all of the actual plated meals. It’s gonna be pretty crazy, but I’m looking forward to seeing all that’s produced, plated, packed up and shipped out. It really is fascinating, and the sheer logistics behind it all are baffling. Wish me luck!