The 5 Day Chef

Boy am I the happiest kind of TIRED you can be.  Thank you for your comments, emails, words of encouragement, and even your wildly high expectations of me (i.e. – suggesting I try out for “Top Chef”).  I’d like to take this opportunity to remind those of you expecting greatness that I attended culinary school for 5 DAYS.

I did learn some great tips and tricks I can apply to my home cooking, like how to make pasta from scratch; the best way to “skim” stocks (use a skimmer – I get to buy a gadget – woo hoo!); and even how to cut a mango.  Mostly it was confidence building – I knew a lot of the techniques covered, but learned how to do them better and why.  But I also learned that having restaurant-quality, “mac daddy” equipment sure does help.  I’ve never seen a big pot of water boil so fast and as unhealthy as it is, it’s pretty awesome to use a fryolater machine.

Looks like my kitchen at home

Each day we began class at 7am sharp (I got to sleep in until 6 after the first day!) with a lecture.  Topics included techniques like knife cuts, roasting, grilling, pan-frying, sauteing and deep-frying.  Then we went over the “production assignments” for each team, meaning the recipes we had to cook using the methods covered in class.  After a short coffee and holy-crap-that-is-the-best chocolate banana muffin/lemon poppyseed cake/strawberry scone-ever break (the latter courtesy of those pesky pastry students), we cooked our little hearts out for 3 – 4 hours straight.  Here are some of my team’s results:

I made the goat cheese croquettes on the left, the pasta, helped with the green beans, and provided moral support for cooking that tasty 40 clove chicken pictured.

In addition to the platters, each team had to prepare a “demo plate” of their completed meals for discussion and critique after lunch.  So we cooked, ate each other’s cooking (along with the freaking pastry student’s extra desserts from class), and then talked about what worked and what didn’t.

The demo plate for the platter above

The last day we cooked from our own production plan.  We were given a “market basket” list and the assignment to create a complete meal, including soup, from the ingredients.  Appropriately enough, our ingredients were Spanish and begged to be made into paella and tapas!  So my team trudged off to the library to peruse the biggest cookbook collection next to the one at the Library of Congress.  And guess who my little soup angel was?  Jose Andres, of course!  Jose, Amy T. (a work buddy) and I go way back.  We are trying as hard as we can (along with our friend, Lisa, who missed the Jose sighting/fawning) to become family at Jaleo, the delicious tapas restaurant near our office downtown.  His cold tomato soup was delightful, and he inspired our peppers stuffed with goat cheese and patatas bravas – fried potatoes in romesco sauce.

Tomato Soup for 14

Our Spanish demo plate

Can you tell I had fun?  It was all I hoped it would be and more.  I’ll start saving my pennies for the next class, as soon as we get back from Spain.  (I hear the Euro is weak and it may be a good time to shop…)  I do hope to post updates from Spain, and fortunately for you they won’t be this long!  Here are a few more photos of the cooking part of my adventure.  Adios!

One of our stations

A fellow team at work

A small part of our typical lunch buffet. The staff started popping their heads into the kitchen around noon each day, especially after they realized we weren't terrible cooks.

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: