Culinary Arts Project

CHARCUTERIE BUFFET, and then getting ready for Action Stations – Day 57


  • Hang the rinds of your cheese in your cream when reducing it for an Alfredo sauce – gives it additional flavor.
  • Use “00” flour to make your pasta slightly stronger but silkier.
  • Throw some Semolina flour in your pasta dough and the pasta will ‘grab’ the sauce slightly better.

Today we finally got to display all the charcuterie products our 3 teams have been working on for the past three weeks. We each had 18 dishes to display, 10 of which had to be cooked/reheated. I didn’t think it was really going to take us two hours to set it all up, but it turns out when Chef John looked at our team and said “You’d better get cutting”, he was right.

ICC staff sampling our display. (Note the CD cover strategically placed in view).
ICC staff sampling our display. (Note the CD cover strategically placed in view).
Spencer and Gerardo 'cubeing'.
Spencer and Gerardo ‘cubeing’.

We had mapped things out on paper before, and had pre-written all Joanne’s place cards, so it seemed a relatively simple thing to put everything in place….NOT. Suddenly we had smoked salmon to slice, smoked tuna to fillet, head cheese and venison terrine to cube, lemons to slice, capers and dill to find, heat lamps to plug in, white linen tablecloths to put out. Spencer and Gerardo assumed cooking duties, so they had all the sausages to cook and slice as well as dishes to reheat. Spencer asked me to reheat to bread, so I put our bread sheetpan in the oven, and promptly forgot about it. Burnt brioche anyone? Luckily I wasn’t in charge of the focaccia, so we had that as a backup.

Despite all the panic, all three teams did an incredible job. Kudos go out to Joe’s team for an excellent display in the tightest of spaces. The Innovative award goes out to Megan’s team for the Whole Food’s brown paper bag rustic look, and our team got top marks for its use of the heat lamp.

Some nice layouts
Some nice layouts – Megan’s Team (#3)
Some nice layouts
Some nice layouts – Joe’s Team (#1)
Our team (#2)
Our team (#2)

We had all decided to make many of the selections bite-size skewered by toothpicks, and I think this made people more willing to try all the various dishes. We were out of the smoked salmon and most of the hot sausages pretty quickly, but people had bites of almost everything, including the head cheese! Looking out at the amazing displays , I was pretty proud of our group – almost as proud as on “Chicken Your Way” day. It was especially nice for me because my classical piano CD was playing in the background.

Congrats to everyone!

No rest for the wicked though. No sooner had we finished than we had to worry about tomorrow – ACTION STATIONS! This is where we cook to order. Jess, Linda and I are on the pasta station. We prepared the pasta dough (00 flour, semolina flour, eggs, olive oil) this afternoon and are going to roll it out fresh tomorrow and serve a Pappardelle Alfredo to order. We pre-grated a crateful of Grana Padano in advance, so hopefully people are going to order it – saving the rinds in a cheese cloth ‘sachet’ to hang in the cream while we reduce the cream in half giving it added flavor. We are doing the basic classic Alfredo (with just cheese, butter, cream, s&p). Pappardelle is like a wide Fettucine. Grana Padano is a slightly smoother tasting Parmigiano. Hopefully we’ll be able to hit that creamy magic – a perfectly executed Alfredo Sauce.

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