Thursday, 23 September 2010

Fear of Food and Fire

As what passed for dawn struggled though the threatening clouds, and fueled only by espresso, nicotine and hope, I walked the dewy grounds to the main school.My mission to meet the farm manager and collect vegetables and herbs for the day.As it was a lecture day my presence was deemed unnecessary and Haulie(manager) suggested I come again one day when there is real work to be done.

So, at 7:50am when lectures did not start for another hour I was left to contemplate the day accompanied only by some chickens celebrating freedom from their coops'

My early morning colleagues

Gradually more and more students emerged and by 9am the Demo room was buzzing with anticipation. First up was a demo of Tomato Puree (more like a Passata) and redcurrant jelly. Then down to the main event of the day Introduction to Cheese. A brief history of artisan cheese production in Ireland was followed by detailed notes and exposition of the varying types and styles of cheeses most named after the farms or townlands where they are made. With many questions being asked the demo lasted much longer  than anticipated and the actual cheeses were not unveiled until the very end.

Then the good nay great news, from here on cheeses would be served every day with lunch!! and the bad news two students per day would be detailed to produce the lunchtime Cheese Board. Lunch followed and mine was a little truncated as I was delegated to play host to some visitors to the school but the main course was pretty good.

Then back to Demo for a scary afternoon.
The threats to all engaged in the food industry were outlined in the Health and Safety lecture on which there will be an exam. After Hazard Action Critical Control Point plans and requirements were outlined the differences between recommendations and requirements were made clear and we were advised how to deal with Environmental Health Officers and Inspectors. Basically ask to see the relevant section of legislation and if it cannot be revealed point out that recommendations are not compulsory. So intrusive regulatory authorities stymied - though the importance of safe sourcing and operation were absolutely driven home - it was on to the scary stuff E Coli, Botulinus, Staphuloccocus and Salmonella. Detailed advice on symptoms and prognoses were given and also the best ways of ensuring that no customer ever succumbs to any of them. What was really scary was that I thought that I remembered Dr Who taking on the Staphycoccans on Planet Botulism.

Before that the ever entertaining but also serious fire prevention and fighting guide. It looks as though we will only ever use the black labelled CO2 extinguishers as they are effective but do not contaminate food. Oh yeah, some of us got to try them out!!

So if faced by a fire as serious as 5 gas burners on a hob being lit we know what to do. Shame a certain friend of mine had not had that lecture a few years ago!!! No names no packdrill just think herb that goes well with fish.

Tomorrow it's back to the kitchen and back to the cooking. Will we survive with all phalanges and digits intact? will the first student turn up at 3am to ensure getting the best ingredients? will the first week end with a full complement of students. Tune in tomorrow, same blog time, same blog channel


  1. Well if a certain friend had the necessary equipment such as a fire extinguisher the lecture might have been worth it! Mind you as I recall it was very slow burning and didn't reveal itself to said friend in all its glory just the aftermath so to speak
    Glad you are enjoying look forward to tasting the newly acquired skills

  2. I didn't know you had a friend called Taragon!