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Sandy D'Amato | The Kitchen Technician Young chef changes rooms and his perspective
Posted: Sep. 16, 2007 The class I was least looking forward to in my time at the Culinary Institute of America was Dining Room Service. Almost everyone at the school was dressed in their bright crisp chef coat whites with checkered pants. Then there were these few awkwardly dressed people in their ill-fitting white button-down shirts, clip-on ties and black cuffed pants or black skirts. They had expressions that ranged from uncomfortable to downright embarrassed. They were the new dining room class. Because the school was self-sufficient, the dining room students learned about service while serving other students the food that was produced in the classrooms for lunch and dinner. The majority of dining room instructors were European-bred and filled with almost mythic tales of the superhuman skills they possessed at a younger time - such as carrying dozens of large wine glasses in each hand or being able to stack a whole eight-top of full dinner plates on one arm. When my time for dining room class came around, I was positive I wouldn't like the class or be susceptible to the boasting. I was wrong on both points. Class was fascinating, as it opened up a whole new way of looking at food service as, well, service. Yes, there are people out there, a fact that's very easy to overlook when you are in your egocentric, sheltered corner of the kitchen. I was enjoying this one-to-one immediate feedback from the customers and learning how to handle the problems as well as the positive comments with grace and humility. The superhuman waiter tricks were practical skills acquired by years and years of repetition and practice. Hmmm, sounds a bit like the kitchen.

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My favorite part was tableside service, where you could use your cooking skills along with a flair for the dramatic and literally have people eating out of your hands - if you executed it well. The zabaglione I'm doing today is inspired by the first tableside dish I saw at the school. With the addition of the poached pears, it makes for a delicious finale to almost any dinner. Sanford S " andy"D'Amato, chef/co-owner of Sanford Restaurant, 1547 N. Jackson St., Coquette Cafe, 316 N. Milwaukee St., and Harlequin Bakery, is a James Beard Award winner. For more information, visit www.sanfordrestaurant.com.

RECIPES Marsala Poached Pears With Vin Santo Zabaglione


Makes 4 servings 1-inch stick cinnamon 2 cloves 2 bay leaves 20 peppercorns 2 star anise 10 coriander seeds 4 cups dry Marsala wine 1 cup sugar 4 Bosc pears, peeled and cored from bottom (stem left on) Zabaglione (see recipe) cup toasted salted hazelnuts for garnish (optional) Cut cinnamon stick into chunks. You should have 1 tablespoon. Tie cinnamon and remaining spices in a piece of cheesecloth. In large pan, put spice bag, Marsala, sugar and pears and simmer until pears are tender when pierced with a skewer, about 20 minutes. Cool pears in liquid. After pears cool, set aside. Reduce the Marsala cooking liquid by half and prepare zabaglione. To serve: Plate cooled pears with the zabaglione. Garnish with a bit of the reduced Marsala cooking liquid and, if desired, some toasted, salted hazelnuts.

Zabaglione:
6 large egg yolks

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2 tablespoons sugar cup Vin Santo or Muscat cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks Place egg yolks in a stainless bowl and add the sugar gradually while whipping. Add the Vin Santo and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Do not let bottom of bowl touch the water. Continue whipping evenly over the bottom until mixture reaches 160 degrees (a light rosette stage) and looks like lightly whipped cream. Do not overcook. Cool in ice bath, whisking until sauce reaches room temperature, then fold in the whipped cream. Archives When in Rome, do as the taste buds would Cranberry tart brings meal to a sweet close Hazelnuts roasting set the heart afire Hearts melt when cheese meets bread Squash dumplings fit the season and senses Bikers in Italy take to wheels of cheese 2,000 filets gave me the willies Follow taste buds, not chef Fishing for fond memories Shrimp dish good enough for jumbo billboard Right ranch can make salad, day perfect Dramatic service won't upstage veal piccata Yes, folks in Milwaukee want to eat good food Ring dinner bell for Asian chops Grill tuna for a quick dinner Guess who wins in showdown between chef and popular dish? Getting to the root of a good lunch in N.Y. Scratching that 11-year itch When it comes to chowder, I'll take Manhattan Cool gazpacho stretches out summer

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