Teamwork in the kitchen: Culinary program at Alamance Community College teaches aspiring chefs more than just cooking

When the 15-minute serving period starts, Alamance Community College’s culinary team is in the weeds.

Initially, the five-member group doesn’t let on, continuing to move with the same calm they possessed throughout the entire cooking section.

But as time ticks away, the breakdown — in communication and with the equipment — is obvious. Emily Totherow stops chopping the pistachio brittle that will coat the edge of a shortbread cookie in her orange Bavarian with chocolate sauce dessert and runs to the pasta maker.

Earlier, Jennifer Phillips, who was cooking the striped bass Provencale appetizer, rolled out a sheet of saffron pasta and left it drying. Totherow finishes, trying to cut it into angel hair. The team knows the handle habitually falls off. This time, the top of the pasta maker drops on the table. Totherow hurries to reattach it.

She tries it all again and then heads to the pot of water on the stove, but is stopped short. A crosswind in the kitchen impacts the flame under the buerre blanc sauce accompanying the striped bass, vegetable stew, tapenade and pistou. The sauce isn’t reducing quickly enough. Totherow stares at the stove, holding the uncooked pasta. Maria Granados, who is preparing the entree and charged with searing the bass, also waits for the testy buerre blanc.

Their rhythm in the kitchen — the moves they practiced for hours and hours since September — is suddenly off.

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