CLASS #1 at NWCAV

This 8 Day Basics course got off to a great start. Chef Tony, experienced cook and co-owner of the cooking school, immediately captured the class’s attention with his friendly demeanor, abundance of kitchen/cooking tips and his quick knife handling skills. He focused the first lesson around two concepts: the importance of your knife and the importance of a culinary vocabulary. Terms like mirepoix and bouquet de garni were introduced and we were shown how to effectively sharpen a knife as well as a cutting technique called “the roll” - an elliptical type stroke where your knife never leaves the cutting board. “If you’re not cutting, you’re not cooking. You are what you cut” proclaimed Chef Tony!

Preparing a stock from scratch and in turn using the broth to create a delicious “Gypsy” soup was a great way to get us practicing our cuts and familiarize ourselves with our new culinary terms. And I must say, working with chicken feet for the first time was loads of kitchen fun!

There were quite a few takeaways that I would love to share. Here are some of Chef Tony’s DOs and DON’Ts from Class #1:

DO:

  • cook more at home
  • make mistakes – evaluate what happened and why
  • trust your instincts; ask yourself “what is the food telling me?”
  • talk like a chef; use the correct vocabulary
  • use a pastry scraper to move your food around
  • have a sink full of soapy water near your cooking station at all times
  • season with salt as you go, from start to finish, not just at the end

DON’T:

  • stress out! Remember to be physically relaxed in the kitchen
  • use a measuring spoon for salt – start to get used to using your hands
  • buy table salt. Instead use sea salt: it’s unrefined, has better crystal formation, more mineral content and better flavour
  • always be recipe driven
  • use warm/hot water from the tap
  • use too much pepper
  • allow your stock to boil; a gentle simmer only
  • ever work with a dull knife

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