Batch cookin’

Following a stressful, yet successful eight weeks working in the kitchen of Red River College’s Prairie Lights restaurant, I have moved upstairs, to the college’s main foodservice outlet, the Voyageur Cafeteria Dining Room.

Whilst this course is titled, “Regional and Seasonal Cuisine,” in reality it’s all about batch cooking. Sexy? Not really, no. Valuable? It is, absolutely.

Of course, I shouldn’t be so dismissive of the course’s lofty title: throughout we have made a concerted effort to feature local and seasonal products or, when appropriate, various cuisines from around the world.

Like the Hard Drive Cafe and Prairie Lights before it, the Voyageur revolves around a rotation schedule designed to ensure my colleagues and I are able to equally experience all aspects of the kitchen. This time around, it has meant time on the “global” station, wherein we’re responsible for preparing two proteins, a vegetable and a starch for between 60 and 80 people — always with an ethnic or national theme; the “island,” which offers steak sandwiches and a carvery; and, the pizza and pasta station, where we serve personal pizzas and, each day, one of us prepares a fresh pasta special.

It’s been fun. More than that, however, it’s given me more experience in, and an increased familiarity with a large-scale commercial kitchen.

Accurately calculating food quantities; maximizing ingredients on hand; making smart and, often, last-minute recipe substitutions or adaptations: all in a day in the Voyageur.

Not necessarily essential culinary skills, but definitely desirable ones — especially for an aspiring chef.


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