Almost all of the students jog 3 times around the school. I actually hate running, but I do it anyway to energize myself before starting the long day.
7:20-7:45 Breakfast 早饭
I grab my usual breakfast in the cafeteria of 稀饭, Chinese rice porridge with some 泡菜, fermented napa cabbage and a 馒头, plain steamed bun. It costs around 2 yuan.
7:45-8:00 Announcements 集合
My main teacher, 郭老师 gives general announcements about the day like what the weather is like, our cleanliness, our progress in class, and what is planned for the rest of the day.
8:30-11:30 “Turning Over” the Wok 翻锅 (Every Monday & Wednesday)
This is the most common and difficult (physically demanding) activity of the day. At each station, each of us have to lift up our wok (about 5 pounds without sand) with our left hand and hold a ladle in our right hand and practice “turning over” the sand. It resembles a flipping motion when it's done correctly.
Art of Cooking 烹调技术 (Every Tuesday and Thursday- 8:00-9:30)
俞老师 lectures about different cooking skills and techniques. So far I have learned about the uses of thickening sauces, sharpening stones and cleavers, and different cutting techniques.
Cutting Skills 刀工 (Every Tuesday and Thursday- 9:30-11:30)
This is where we get to practice our cutting and knife sharpening techniques. We first sharpen our cleavers using a sharpening stone. Then for about two hours, we practice basic cutting skills such as dicing, mincing, chopping, slicing, and peeling carrots, potatoes, and daikons.
11:30- 1:45 Lunch and Resting Time 午饭/休息
I don't expect anything less from a culinary school cafeteria, but the school cafeteria truly is one of the better cafeterias I've eaten in in China. I usually get a bowl of rice with meat dish like 红烧肉 , red braised pork or 咖喱鸡肉, curry chicken and a vegetable dish like 白菜, chinese cabbage. It usually costs around 4-6 yuan depending on what I get.
After lunch, we get to rest for about 2 hours. Sometimes I take a nap, but most of the time, a couple of classmates and I practice “turning over” the wok for about a hour.
2:30-4:00 Cooking Demonstration
郭老师 makes 2 dishes every day: usually one meat dish and one vegetarian dish. He then writes on a blackboard the general directions on how to make the dish. It's not really a recipe since there are no definite measurements of any sort, just a list of ingredients to prepare beforehand, and ingredients and seasonings to mix and/or use while making the dish. While the teacher is making the dish, we get to ask any questions we might have. I take notes in both English and Chinese (with help from my classmate) to improve on my Chinese and look up any words that I don't know.
4:00-5:30 Cooking 炒菜
After watching the demonstration, the teacher tells us which dish we get to make (usually the vegetarian one). Then one of the classmates portions out the ingredients for us. We then head downstairs to the general cooking area where we all prep and cook the same dish. The teacher walks around the kitchen to check if we need any help. New students have to observe other classmates cooking for about three days before they get the chance to try preparing a dish on their own. When we are done with the dish, we bring the dish back to classroom where the teacher tastes and grades our dish. If he finds something wrong with the dish, 郭老师 playfully scolds the student. At the end of the class, 郭老师 tells us common mistakes that we made and gives us advice on what to do better for next time. At the end, a group of students stay behind to clean the kitchen.
5:30-7:00 Dinner 晚饭
One of the best things about culinary school is the abundance of food. After we cook our dishes in class, we get to take our creations back with us for dinner. Just in case, the cafeteria is often open pretty late for students who want to eat later on in the night.
7:00-8:00 Self Study 自习
This is an optional class, though all of the students who live in the dorm usually go downstairs and practice our “turning over” the wok skills for about a hour.
8:00-9:30 Study & Sleep
This is usually my time to go over notes, look up Chinese words, and practice writing Chinese characters before I get ready to go to bed.