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Under Fire: Two "ah-ha" moments

Our former Cafe Society intern just decided to chuck college in favor of a real education: as a sous chef. In Under Fire, he chronicles his daily trials and tribulations in the kitchen.

When I got to the office around 11:30 a.m. yesterday, Chef was already working on the first course for our three-course tasting menu: a tart made with farmers' market honey crisp apples and MouCo's camembert-style Colorouge. It was a great idea. First off, honey crisp apples are simply the apples of the gods. And Colorouge, when eaten at room temp, is fabulous. Put them together in a tart shell and bake them? Good lord!

Tasting the tart was definitely an "ah-ha!" moment, when something clicks in your mind and stays there. And what clicked was this: Great food requires great ingredients. This tart wouldn't work at all if the apples were mushy or too tart, and it would be a stanky mess with a lesser-quality cheese. But when you pair a couple of fantastic ingredients, the result will probably be even more fantastic.

I followed one of the tarts onto the floor, and found an energetic group of diners in the restaurant. The place seemed damned near night-clubby, except with more bread and cheese -- and fantastic tarts. The discovery that a party could be going on ten feet from the kitchen was fascinating, and another "ah-ha" moment. The line between work and play is fine in this industry -- which is one of the reasons it's where I want to be right now.

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