Culinary School | WK #1

So. I officially have the first week of Culinary School under my belt. (Now I may have had to loosen the belt a few notches in order to fit all the new information – and it might not have been pretty – but I did get it all in there nevertheless!)

The week’s agenda included Food Security concepts, knife techniques such as julienne and brunoise, and culinary terminology like Garde Manger and Mise en Place. Introductions to the teaching staff were made, a kitchen scavenger hunt helped identify where specific items in the school are kept and chalkboards covered in conversions allowed for movement between the Imperial and Metric systems. Our class spent the first day discussing what skills can be identified in a good cook and what qualities will put a student on the path to success. We then spent the rest of the week observing our own strengths and weaknesses and ultimately prioritizing the development of essential kitchen habits: safety, cleanliness, resourcefulness, communication and time management. These five concepts are king.

Now I’ve always been a huge fan of organization – I’ll take a ribbing for having my calendar colour coded any day – so I felt right at home when Chef Warren introduced our class to the concept of a Task List. Simple sounding but not ever to be overlooked, a written Task List is how a cook identifies and schedules his or her duties and responsibilities for the day. The more details the better, always. Every list specifies a start and end time for each action and it lists all of the ingredients, measurements and preparations required to execute a successful service. The importance of the Task List was stressed over and over – Chef Tony went so far to say that if he could go back in time, back to his first days in the kitchen, he would place much more emphasis on the formation of this good habit. Message received. Loud and clear!

Various salads were on the first week’s agenda as well as different dressings and vinaigrettes. We made a mayonnaise from scratch – a great way to witness the principles of emulsification – and used it to coat the grilled romaine in our Caesar salad. Cuts were practiced, knives were honed and the art form that is the canape is how we finished off the day on Friday.

All in all, the first week of school was a great week of school. It didn’t take long to realise that the NWCAV instructors run a tight operation but I wouldn’t want it any other way. They value structure, preparation, enthusiasm and their diligence and positive energy is definitely contagious. I’ll be thrilled to get back in there Monday morning, bright and early.

Uniform pressed? Knives sharp? Pilots lit? Yes, Chef.

readings

carrots

Practice, Practice, Pracice. Cut, Cut, Cut.

Chiffonade – a method of cutting herbs or leafy green vegetables into long thin strips or ribbons.
Brunoise – a method of cutting vegetable into tiny cubes or squares.
Julienne – a method of cutting food into thin strips (matchstick-like strips)

canapes

caesar

Step 1: Make a Mayonnaise from scratch. Croutons too!
Step 2: Smash the dickens out of garlic and anchovies. Add to Mayonnaise.
Step 3: Oil and grill Romaine lettuce. Brush the lettuce with the dressing.
Step 4: Plate and Serve. (Mmm…)

butter

Did you know that half a pound of butter is equivalent to 16 tablespoons? So why not pre-cut the block and have perfect measurements ready to go in your fridge!
 
 See you next week, Piggies! …

Leave a Reply