Melissa and I have finished our 4th rotation. Three months have gone by and we have been through a lot of different experiences. We started at FNIC (Food Nutrition Information Council), then moved onto IFIC (International Food Information Council) in DC, and then wrapped up our complicated acronyms with FSNE (Food Supplement Nutrition Education). These three all focused on information technology, the unique attraction of the University of Maryland internship. Our 4th rotation started us in food service at the university itself. For three weeks we worked on a variety of projects that you can see here. To cap off our experience, we planned and executed a meal for the administrative members of UMD Dining Services, fellow interns, and our director Phyllis.
Inspired by our favorite Food Truck Friday dishes (aka Gyros), we wanted to do a Mediterranean theme. We put together a menu including stuffed mushrooms, a Greek salad, chicken souvlaki and cake for dessert. We thought it sounded delicious but the executive chef sent us back an email that just said, and I quote, “Boring!!!” Yes. There were multiple exclamation points. So we went and sat down with him and realized that we played everything too safe. All of these dishes, we could make easily in our home. But we were in a fully stocked kitchen with the guidance of an executive chef! The sky was the limit!
So after some brainstorming and tweaking we finally all agreed on our menu, which was to die for. You can’t tell me this doesn’t sound amazing.
The coolest part about this whole project was that we actually got to make everything. Chef John was in the kitchen giving us direction, but about 90% of the work came from intern hands. We learned how to julienne vegetables, the proper way to cut basil, how to prepare pizza dough, and the how to stuff a turnover.
One thing that I was consistently impressed with was Chef’s consistent lack of measuring utensils. After so many years in the business, he just doesn’t need them anymore. He just took industrial sized spices and shook them into each dish, tasted and adjusted if it needed it. Check out some highlights including the largest carrot in the world:
Our food was a hit and fortunately, we made enough to have leftovers. 🙂 It was really cool to have such freedom in the kitchen and stretch my culinary abilities. Most of what we made wasn’t so complicated in its technique, but just paired some great flavors. I am going to try and recreate some of these at home and I will be sure to update you on their status.
Have you had any experience in a professional kitchen?