The tomato is a fruit. I know it is not always used as a fruit but good tomatoes can be almost as sweet as grapes so when my friend came to me with an abundance of tomatoes from her garden we decided to experiment with dessert. After much research we came across a ginger tomato ice cream created by Kathy Miles and published in the Washington Post. You can find the original article here. Be wary, if you decide to make this ice cream, it does take time. The tomatoes cook for at least an hour and then the juice cooks for an hour and a half. Don’t forget to add in the time it takes in the ice cream machine. The final product was surprisingly good for a tomato ice cream. After getting over the fact that it is tomato of course. The homemade tomato paste adds a sweet swirl to the sharp taste of the ginger and garam masala. We added basil tuiles as a garnish which accented perfectly. In fact I liked the ice cream more when combined with the sweet basil accent.
7 am on a Saturday morning and the tension is radiating through the building. It feels like the whole place is holdings its breath. Preparations for the exam started long before I got there. Eight days left in the count down to those who will add three new letters to their title. The CMC exam is about to begin and I find myself on the volunteer schedule for the rest of the week.
I am by no means trained to be an apprentice so it is my job to run. Run to re-stock the vital ingredients, run to the store room for the more exotic, run to find platters, goosenecks, and other dishes a chef might need at a moments notice. The candidates have enough on their plates and my job is to make their lives just a little easier and, if possible, a tad less stressful.
While I make family meal, do dishes, and collect last minute needs, the seven candidates do their best to impress the current CMCs who watch over their shoulders. Everything they do is judged. From the way they cut their carrots to the way they talk to the apprentices. I can only imagine how much pressure the apprentices are under as well. If something goes wrong it is the chef’s credibility that takes the fall.
By Tuesday the candidates are down to four, by Friday to three. The final chefs must wow the judges with the final dishes and none of them have it in the bag. I watch my good friend apprentice with a young chef who has already taken this exam twice. I have never seen her move so fast.
The wife and two children of another chef wait amongst other supporters in the hallway taking the chance to call in to motivate him whenever they can. The minutes to their final dish are rushing ever so slowly to zero.
By 8pm everyone is waiting in the hallway. The first chef is called and by his silence the room knows he didn’t make it. The second chef is called in and within seconds there is a round of applause. After months of prepping and seven days of high blood pressure Chef Hall is announced as the new Certified Master Chef. The final two chefs have one more chance to regain some points but until then at least Chef Hall can exhale.
As you can see from previous posts I spent a few months working at the LA Times as an extern. Today one of my blog posts was published! You can read it here.