Monday, November 15, 2010

Food Porn - Cesare Casella & Salumeria Rosi

I am thrilled to death to get to work for this guy! Chef Cesare Casella is an Italian food rock star. This video takes place at his upper-west-side restaurant Salumeria Rosi (located on 73rd and Broadway) where I and three other students in my class (Ura, Craig, and Joe) have been interning for the past two months. Three days a week we go in and prep, work at Chef Cesare's beloved salumi counter, and even get thrown on the line during dinner service.

It is definitely hard going from a full day of school to a six hour shift at work, our feet hurt, we're exhausted and dirty, and all we want to do is sit down and have a drink. However, the experience is absolutely invaluable. We are learning so much that it's like attending two culinary schools at once. The lack of sleep and rest is definitely going to pay off when we get to Italy and already have some serious experience in our back pocket.

I can't remember another time in my life when I've eaten so much meat! please hold the laughter because I am actually being serious here. We try everything at Salumeria. Under the mentorship of the Chef-de-cuisine Aarone we have been taught the huge difference between a prosciutto di Parma and a prosciutto di San Danielle, the proper way to efficiently handle multiple tasks at once, and how to wrap and tie a porchetta (pig loin wrapped in pig belly and roasted) along with a myriad of other tips. It's been a lot of fun, a lot of work, and very educational.

Italy in one month...the countdown begins...

Cesare Casella featured on Best Thing Ever

Oy Vey!

Oy vey!

So it has now been six weeks of culinary school and I have barely had a moment to breathe let alone sit down to write anything of substance. Every morning I wake up at 6am and make the long hour and a half commute into the city and spend all day on my feet in a hot kitchen. Don't get me wrong, it is exhilerating and fulfilling in a way that nothing else in my life has been so far, but it is hard hard work. I am exhausted. I don't remember ever being so tired.

Part of my exhaustion is due to the fact that I have been the lucky recipient of a coveted internship with Chef Cesare Casella at his upper-west-side restaurant Salumeria Rosi. Out of twenty-five students in my class everyone applied and only four were picked for the internship, myself included. I feel over-the-moon proud of myself for being picked and eager to work my ass off in gratitude. So now three days a week after school I take two subways to get to work and spend four to six hours doing whatever work the Chef-de-cuisine Aaron finds fit for me to do. The experience is invaluable, it's like being in two culinary schools at once.

We have already survived our first practical exam, which is pretty much like a quickfire challenge on top chef. We walked into class that day knowing that we would be expected to produce two recipes that we had learned over the course of the past six weeks within a time constraint of two hours. The hardest part about it wasn't actually the recipes which we had to manifest, which turned out to be Caponata (a dish I alone had successfuly executed during the lesson we had learned it) and fresh ravioli with a sage butter sauce. The hardest part about the practical exam in fact turned out to be the stress. The recipes were simple enough, nothing out of the ordinary, no special tricks or hard techniques involved. What I didn't expect was the nerve-wracking anxiety of it all. It tripped me up, made me lose my cool and composure, and although I got my dishes accomplished during the required time elotment, I didn't feel entirely confident. At the end of the day I did well, better than average. Chef Guido called us out to another room to give us our scores one-by-one. I ended up getting an 89 on my evaluation (out of 100) which is impressive considering Chef Guido never gives anyone above a 93.

So now I'm working my ass off. Every moment I have is spent in a kitchen, or with my boyfriend and our new puppy. I feel like time is flying by. I can't believe I have already been in school for six weeks. It feels like just yesterday that we were all strangers meeting for the first time at orientation. Mariano (my bf) is getting stressed, I can tell. The time apart and the impending four months in Italy are weighing him down. He doesn't want to lose me, nor I him, but there is nothing to be done at this point, it is going to happen, I am going to leave. But for now, I enjoy my time here. Loving class, being exhausted, and spending as much time with the man I love as I can until I leave on the other half of this journey of mine.

Buona Notte