Monday, August 15, 2011

A June Graduation & First 2 Weeks at my Internship

I graduated from the Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francaise--Ferrandi on June 24th.  This was after our 6 hour final exam earlier that week.

Everyone exhausted after the exam
Here's what I made for the exam:

And then we had such a nice graduation ceremony!

Chef and me!

At the reception:
Chef opening presents

I went back to Texas for a few weeks after graduation, and started my internship at the Four Seasons Hotel George V two weeks ago!

I walked in the employee entrance in my dress and blazer, filled out all sorts of forms, got my photo taken for my employee cards, and was led down to an incredible room where we began orientation.  The walls were paneled with intricately carved dark-stained wood.  The tables in the corners had gilded lions' feet.  The carpet was hypnotizing with a rich blue and gold regal patterning.  The lighting was nicely done.  And, of course, there was a magnificent chandelier in the middle.  We were all given a little workbook to take notes in, and a very pretty Four Seasons pen.

We had 2 days of training.  The second training day involved a tour of the hotel, which was amazing.  I had only seen pictures before this tour.  Being out in the marble courtyard under the "purple rain" of 300 vanda orchids seemingly hanging from the sky was incredible.  I could have stayed out there for much longer.  The restaurant is also stunning.  Here are some pictures (I did not take them!):

Restaurant entrance

Inside restaurant
The "purple rain" in the courtyard

You can look at more pictures here if you're curious!  

The first week in the kitchen was mostly about learning the ropes.  I learned where everything is located, where, in the enormous kitchen area, to look for items if they aren't in the pastry section.  I did lots of small things and learned procedures.  Cutting strawberries, painting sparkles on chocolate pieces used to decorate plated desserts, measuring ingredients for recipes that the chefs would make later, and painting eggwash on scones are among the little tasks that I was asked to complete during my first week.  

The second week, I was already much more involved.  Monday, I made hundreds of crepes, and I'm not exaggerating!  I'm putting together and decorating plates of petit fours for afternoon tea.  Every day is different, and I'm learning so much already.  I know that by the end of the 6 months I will be at a new level of skill.

It's so strange because everyone at Four Seasons is required to say hello to everyone.  Everyone.  And, in walking around in a gigantic kitchen area, this can get a little tiring.  I mean, I'm not at all an unfriendly or unhappy person, but people really get a little offended if I don't say bonjour every day.  Plus, with people I've ever had a single conversation with, even in passing, it's normal to do the cheek-kissing thing.  And, again, it can offend people if you don't do it.  They just take it so seriously--one time I walked into the kitchen, and Benoit, one of the chefs, was busy talking to someone, so I started making the grocery list and then he came up as soon as he was done talking and kissed my cheeks and apologized for not doing it immediately upon my walking in.  It's just getting used to a different culture.  I guess it would be similar to a situation such as me offering to shake hands with someone in Texas and the other person not responding.  But come on, kissing cheeks with perfect strangers is such a personal thing, so it's really weird for me to initiate it!  Anyway, I'm learning.

So, I went out for my birthday this weekend and got to see some friends that I hadn't seen since graduation.  It was so great to see everyone.  But while we were there someone mentioned that they have Monday off this week because it's a national holiday.  I guess I would have thought that people at work would have reminded me about this if I actually had it off.  But I went in today, woke up before 6, got my uniform, and walked upstairs to the kitchen and immediately looked at the schedule and saw erasure marks--none of the interns are working today.  Everyone laughed at me a little bit and it was kind of embarrassing, but it was a nice treat to be able to go right back home.  And of course, even though I was told to leave immediately, I had to go in and kiss everyone.  But it's nice because I've actually had a little bit of time to sit down and write!


  1. "And of course, even though I was told to leave immediately, I had to go in and kiss everyone. " Ha!

    Happy birthday!

    I read that in Thomas Keller's kitchen, everyone is addressed as chef, Hello Chef, Yes Chef, etc to EVERYONE. Kissing seems easier.

    Still hot and dry in tx. blah.

  2. Hi Jessica,
    I'm a current student at Ferrandi and was thinking about interning at the 4 seasons. Is it okay if I ask you some questions about your stage? If so, my e-mail is chanjying at Thanks!