Monday, 22 April 2019

Lyonnaise adventures and getting down to the French hustle..continued 

    Coucou tout le monde! We meet again. :) 

I have finally gotten a chance to sit down and update everyone on our French adventures and culinary advancements in Institut Paul Bocuse! 
Place Bellecour-Lyon. 

As always, everything said in this blog is a reflection of my own personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. 

Having finally made the advancement to third year, I can say that is has been a hell of a ride. After having been moved up, I continued on to a week of "la Patisserie" which was a week spent making traditional French entremet's and gateaux's . As (recently discovered) pastry and boulangerie are my passion, I have learnt an immense amount and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I have also picked up on a phrase that may be some food for thought : " Pastry is international but patisserie is French" - anyone who has been to/studied pastry in France may be in agreement. ;) 

Patisserie - Gateaux St. Honore 
Following the week in patisserie, I began a 4 week rotation in the Institut Restaurant Place Bellecour. 
IPB has several restaurants around Ecully/Lyon which are either run by or related to the Institute. This particular restaurant is situated in one of the busiest and most affluent parts of the city,Place Bellecour. This area holds a large amount of the city's restaurants, theatres and cinemas and whilst they are spread out all over Lyon, Bellecour seems to be a personal favorite for a lot of people. The restaurant is situated inside a hotel run by the Accor group and serves roughly 45 for lunch and 50-65 for dinner. 
Patisserie - Chocolate tart. 

I must say that personally, my time in Bellecour was one of the more enjoyable periods of being in Lyon, and I know the experience is similar for Derek. Working hours are 8am to 3pm(including mise en place and service), there is a pause from 3-5 and the day continues from 5-11/midnight. I was in pastry during my 4 weeks in Bellecour, and it must be said that the pastry chef was one of the least French-like chefs that I have ever met and we got along extremely well. The quality of the food is that of a fine dining bistro, with traditional French touches, finished in a modernised fashion. 
Restaurant Bellecour - Macaron dessert 

Having completed the 4 week rotation in Bellecour, Derek and I finally got the chance to work together in our final rotation of restaurant 'Saisons' . This particular restaurant has a reputation of being the toughest rotation out of all of the above to get through. 
It is perhaps the most prestigious, gastronomical and fine dining restaurant of the Institute campus. The food, ingredients used and quality of the produce is undeniably top notch. The production of dishes is very regimented and supervised with Michelin star standards and good waste management techniques in place. The current head chef's aim is to obtain a Michelin star, as a result the students are pushed the same way they would be in a true Michelin star restaurant environment. Wokring hours begin at 8am through to 3/3.30 , after which there is a pause again until 5 and one begins again at 5 through to midnight/1 am. Whilst hours are similar to that of Place Bellecour, the rhythm of work is entirely different. Each student is given the responsibility of a section in groups of 2/3. Derek and I were both placed in garde manger, but were often swapping between the amuse bouche and entree sections. In my honest opinion, the working environment in restaurant 'Saisons' is that of a typical mayhem Michelin star restaurant. The chefs are very meticulous, merciless with the standards of perfection and everything must run as they wish, without interruptions, in the hopes of one day achieving the star on the restaurant's door. 

Saisons - Egg starter. 
Having told you the facts, I will now aim to open up about my own personal feelings and thoughts on the past couple of weeks. 
I came to Lyon with the expectation that I will be getting the true Erasmus experience with regular 9-5 college hours, integration into a group of international students, time to explore the cultural and social life of the city, and most importantly to sample the world-famous French gastronomy. 
To my disbelief, this did not end up being the case at all. 
Upon landing in France, we were faced with multiple complications including the course running in French instead of English, being separated from each other with Derek, cultural and social differences between France and Ireland and dealing with difficult working conditions and very long working hours. 
My incredible roommate Ana
 and a Lyonnaise food market. 
I personally truly had to keep my head and heart in the game as , once again, I prepared for a life of constant hustle just as I did in Budapest. Some days were considerably more difficult then others, and some days I stood back and was amazed at how well we are both dealing with all of the above and the immense amount of learning that is taking place. Derek and I lost touch with each other, sometimes days and weeks on end as our rotations took us on different hours and the majority of days off were spent recovering physically, and enjoying our beauty sleep. 
Throughout it all, I have had the privilege to be immersed in the finest French patisserie, boulangerie and gastronomy, and the things I have seen so far and I am sure will continue to see in France will influence me for months and years to come!
Having such a lack of free time definitely forced us to get out and make the most of our days off, enjoying local French boucheries and the weekly weekend markets, which continue to amaze me to the same level as they did the first time I ever visited them! 

Alors, that will be all for today. 
I will soon be back for my last and final blog post and wrap-up of my period in France and my Erasmus year! 
Until then, bisous! 

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