J-24. J-29. J-34. J-35. J-36. J-38. Now it's getting really serious. I am no longer counting the days until the final French election round. I hardly know what's going on around me and in the world. The only focus of my life in the next weeks is going to be the multiple practical and written exams. I received the "convocations" for the 4 state's exams (C.A.P.) three days ago, and with the exams for the school's certificate that makes a total of 6 different exams between end of May and mid June. I have been dropping all potential sources of distraction and fun (except for Grey's Anatomy DVDs, only just recently discovered the existence of McDreamy). I know this can't be but I feel all this is more difficult than studying for the exams for my Master's degree in computer science. Could it be the age ? Anyway, it is very hard, my head is exploding, but my final goal keeps me going.
Last week we had a "certificate blanc". A test for the final certificat, under "test conditions". I thought I had worked really hard during the vacation, but despite all that my result for the practical test was just mediocre and one of the worst of the class. We had external "judges" coming in that would observe and grade us during 4 hours cooking and grade also the results for taste, presentation, etc. My turn was on Thursday and I draw a soupe "potage cultivateur" to present at 12.00 and a fish dish "saumon Dugéléré" to present at 12.20. Of course I had to draw dishes that I had not practiced and not much focussed on, so I was so nervous that the stress must have paralyzed the part of my brain which is in charge of logic and organization. So I was not capable to organize the way I would cook the two dishes in an intelligent way and not able to get going. What made the story worse, was that one of the external judges, who kept observing us in the kitchen kept saying to another judge "She's not gonna make it", and to me "still not started the soup ?!" several times, which made me shift my plans, and focus more on the soup, and neglect the fish dish. At the end I had a fantastic potage, but an undercooked salmon in "soupe" instead of sauce as I started it too late, with a combined grade of 13/24, which would make me just pass the practical part of the test... I could blame it on the judges confusing me, but they will be around also for the C.A.P practical and the final school certificate. So I just need to continue working hard, and include also working on myself... (Any suggestions on a crash course on stress management ?)
On Friday the second half of our class went into the "test blanc", and when chef Sebastien asked for a volunteer to be part of the tasting jury, my hand was up fast. So I sat at a table with the external judges, and (besides having a good meal ;), I learnt a lot about the criteria of the judges to grade a dish. They were very enthusiastic to explain me all the details of their observation and tasting method. Very interesting, and some surprises. For example, one judge just felt the plates with his hand to judge the temperature of the dish, before even tasting it... So even though some potatoes were hot, the plate in which they were served was not, so that led to a lower grade for one of my classmates. All that led me to overcome the frustration about my results from Thursday, and conclude the week on an optimistic note based on my knew knowledge gained about weaknesses to work on, mistakes not to make any more, and insights on what to focus on for the final, real test.
Last week was a true emotional rollercoaster week. After two weeks of vacation it was extremely tough to go back to school. I feel bad saying this, because I gave up so much for this, and I paid so much money, but I am just not very motivated any more to go to school, moments of fun have become rare, all that's left is pressure and rush, with exception of wine class and patisserie. I just want all those tests to be over, take a vacation and then start my long stage. Which leds me to..... the highlight of last week. Wednesday I was skipping up and down all day with tears of happiness in my eyes, since chef Sebastien has confirmed the restaurant for my long (3 or 4 months) stage for the summer. But more on this in a future post. All I say for now, it is going to be an adventure and I am sooooooo excited.
Need to get back now to study instead of Grey's anatomy Beef's and Veal's anatomy and keep my head from falling on the table...Just 5 more weeks.