I'm studying the Grand Diplome at Cordon Bleu in London

The 1st day consisted of a demonstration lesson, followed by a practical and then a lecture on health and safety in the kitchen.

The demonstration was on basic vegetable cuts. The chef demonstrated how to cut julienne of carrots and leek, finely chop an onion and shallot, slice an onion into thin half rings, chop parsley and make a bouquet garni.

The practical session that followed was us trying to emulate the chef. What it turned out to be was a count of how many people could cut themselves with their brand new and very sharp knives. All class, one person or another seemed to be running up to the chef to get a blue plaster on one or more fingers. Why blue plasters? It’s because there isn’t really any blue food so if the plaster comes off, it will show up in the food before it reaches the customer!

Within the 1st hour, one chap had cut himself so deeply that he had to go to the hospital to get a couple of stitches. Oddly enough it was on his right hand, which is the hand he would be holding the knife with. Usually you end up cutting the other hand. No one knows how he did it.

It was pretty slow going creating the julienne of carrot. Julienne is basically matchstick size pieces, about 5 cm long and 1 mm wide. You start by cutting the carrot into a square block of the right length, cutting 1mm slices from that, then cutting the slices into 1mm wide sticks. Very fiddly and I will need to do lots of practice at this one.

My evaluation at the end of practical was that my vegetable cuts weren’t fine enough. However I didn’t cut myself. Hurrah. At least one third of the class did, some several times.

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