The very last component of the Natural Chef Program at Bauman College is the externship. While many students completed their externships at restaurants or with catering companies, I chose to spend mine trying out personal cheffing, since it is what I am considering as a possible future career. I recruited some vegan friends on The PPK who were interested in trying it out as well, from the client’s perspective. In California, legally, food has to be prepared in a professional facility like a commercial kitchen, or in the client’s home, which is where personal cheffing comes in.
For my first assignment, I cooked a special dinner for Megan and her roommates. The birthday boy’s favorite cuisines are Central American and Middle Eastern, and I chose to go Central American for the challenge, as I didn’t really have much experience in the area. Note – This was before Viva Vegan came out, which would have made my planning a whole lot easier! I did as much research as possible in order to present a somewhat-authentic meal. I didn’t have time to take pictures, as I was serving each course plated, but Megan’s sister was kind enough to snap some shots.
First, I brought out Strawberry Agua Fresca and some South American beers. BevMo didn’t have any Central American beers, so we had to settle for South.
The agua fresca was just strawberries, water, a little sugar, and lime juice blended up and strained. Delicious!
The appetizer was chorizo-spiced mushroom papusas with curtido and hot sauce.
For the filling, I sauteed some diced mushrooms with a chorizo seasoning mix based on this recipe, then added some fresh cilantro as I stuffed the papusas. The curtido recipe is from Vegan Lunch Box Around the World.
I chose a cold soup that I could make ahead for the second course, to free up some burners and cooking time in preparation for the main course.
This is Mark Bittman’s Savory Cold Mango Soup. Not authentically Central American, but close enough flavor-wise to go with the meal. I wasn’t sure how well this would turn out, but the diners really liked it.
For the salad course, I chose Hearts of Palm Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette. Except that the grocery store I went to, which is usually very well stocked, didn’t have hearts of palm. So, it turned into an artichoke heart salad, which was probably just as good. The recipe didn’t call for avocado, but I figured there oughta be avocado somewhere in the meal.
The entree was a large plate of food, and the diners were starting to get full by this point, but they tried their darndest to eat as much as possible!
This is Tofu Pepian, Gallo Pinto, Sauteed Kale and Roasted Plantains. The pepian sauce is from this recipe. It was really easy to make, and ridiculously flavorful. It was my first time working with tomatillos, so I was pleased to find out that they are relatively easy to work with. I breaded the tofu with the method of the Cajun Spiced Tofu from Yellow Rose Recipes. I used this Gallo Pinto recipe, which was super duper delicious, and the kale was simply chopped and sauteed in a bit of oil with some salt. The ripe plantains were tossed with some oil and roasted at 425F, just until they started to brown.
Dessert was the birthday boy’s choice…
Smlove Pie from Veganomicon. This picture cannot express how amazingly delicious this pie is. It’s somewhat time-consuming to make, but so very worth it.
After this meal I was exhausted and their kitchen was a mess, but they thoroughly enjoyed the meal and I learned a lot about planning and executing a catered dinner. I’ll return soon to tell you about the rest of my externship experiences!