Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Check Your Coke At The Door

This week we started a new mini-class with a new instructor who doesn't play. Soda has been banned, and tardiness isn't tolerated, but before I jump too far ahead, let me close out last week.

As mentioned in Thursday's post, we had a quiz on Friday morning. I was nervous about the quiz, but in the end it wasn't bad. The question that stumped me the most was a fill-in-the-blank question that dealt with sugar. I needed to write the type of sugar that's best suited for pastries and cakes. There are two acceptable names given to the sugar, but I could only think of the lesser professional sounding version. Superfine. This is easy to remember, because it triggers my mind to think of Superfly which leads to Pretty Fly - as in Pretty Fly For A White Guy (uh huh, uh huh). I know. Random. I wasn't sure if superfine was good enough, but I didn't have to wait and worry for long. I knew the other term started with a C, and when the guy behind me spoke out during the quiz and used the word 'castor', I was home free. Castor and superfine are the same! Normally folks don't talk about answers during quizzes. The thing is that the guy was mistaken. He thought the answer was turbinado sugar and therefore saw no issue with using castor aloud. Does the fact that I then wrote and used the word castor make me a cheater or does it mean I know how to make good use of opportunities? It was spoken for all to hear, and I already had superfine, which would have likely been graded as correct anyway. Am I right, or am I just rationalizing my bad behavior at this point?

For those who may be wondering, turbinado sugar (also called Demerara sugar) is basically the closest thing you will ever get to raw sugar without chomping down on sugar cane. Turbinado sugar is only partially refined, very coarse and caramel in flavor.

After the quiz I was a bad student and skipped the afternoon session to attend the wedding of some very good friends. It was a nice ceremony at a local historical mansion. Congratulations Phil and Sarah!

The weekend brought with it volunteer work at a large (100+) luncheon, a last minute boring but tasty banana cake with cream cheese frosting and sore feet.

School on Monday brought the aforementioned new subject matter and instructor. This week's topic is 'Controlling Foodservice Costs', but it could be called 'How to Scare Off Students in Four Days'. The class is intense to say the least. I went in thinking that we would discuss theft, waste, inventory and the cost of ingredients. In reality we are talking about each of these things and much more - the 'as purchased' weight compared to the 'edible portion' weight and how this affects cost which affects menu pricing and profits. There are numerous equations that come into play, and calculators are necessary.

On top of this we are also working to some extent on conversions. How many teaspoons are in a gallon? Better yet, if you purchase 400 ounces of a product with an 85% yield, how many tablespoons of the edible portion will you have to use in your recipe?

We're having daily quizzes and another large online test with a certification up for grabs on Friday. Today's quiz wasn't as bad as expected either. There were multiple perfect scores. Hopefully tomorrow will be the same, but this brings us to our new instructor.

When referring to our scores from this morning's quiz, he said that he was surprised by them, that he didn't expect them to be that good. What? Did he think we were all just a bunch of pretty faces? Did he expect us to fail? Maybe he didn't mean it the way it sounded, but I dont know. He seems quite harsh at times. It may be the fact that we are his first class, or it may be the fact that we're in college and not elementary school. Regardless, the harshness isn't completely bad. It tends to lead to structure, and I like that in a classroom.

What I don't like is the fact that I'm not allowed to have pop in the room. Nothing but water. This is a major change for me. At ol' Blue I drank around the clock, a corporate lush with a cup always within reach. The only possible silver lining of this injustice is that I may end up losing weight and saving money.

Ringing cell phones are also not allowed, and I agree with this one. When the second cell phone rang in class today, the instructor became very passionate and responded in a manner that made me wonder if he has anger issues or if he beats his wife. Since it wasn't my phone, it was also rather amusing.

Our new instructor also locks the door when class starts. If you arrive late, you wait until the next break to enter the room. The jury is still out on this one. Given my history I tend to be sympathetic to those with punctuality issues. I do like my sleep and sometimes have a difficult time getting out of bed. Thankfully I'm still at one tardy - though yesterday was a very close call. I forgot my skull cap and had to whip a U-turn to fetch it. I ended up speeding across Tulsa in the rain and yelling at slower moving cars while Clint Brown lifted up the name of Jesus in the background. But I made it, and there are worse ways to start a day.

That brings us up to date on school. For the most part. For now.

Aside from the school matters, I'm finding that thoughts of the old stomping ground pop up at odd times. When the snow started falling yesterday, I missed the parking garage and the view of downtown from the 11th floor. When I hid the contraband Coke in the cabinet of the breakroom this morning, I longed for my desk where I could drink freely and where so many great conversations with team members took place. I miss the team, and getting home at 3:30 each afternoon still feels weird. On a more positive note, I think I finally got the unemployment benefits situation taken care of today.

When the checks start coming, grub is on me.

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