I can’t really believe I am about to start week 5 of culinary school – it is going by so quickly already – I think I want to slow down time so I can enjoy it even more. I have to say I am glad I am doing the part-time program which is 8 months in the classroom, versus the full-time which is only 3 months. I can’t imagine already being one-third done, I feel like I am just figuring out how to get from my street clothes to my chef uniform to set-up my station in less than 10 minutes – turns out, it’s harder than it seems. Good thing we have all bonded quickly and there is absolutely no hesitation for me to make a quick change into my chef pants with all of the rest of the students standing right there – oh and yes, they all do it too, not just me.
This first few weeks has been a lot about vegetables, soups, cooking techniques, a little bit of plating and a few guest speakers. Since my time is short right now, and let’s be honest, no one wants to read a really long blog, let’s take it to the list. The top things we have made, some cooking tips/tricks/methods I have learned and a little bit about our guests.
First Up….The Food:
1. Artichokes Barigoule – also known as awesome braised artichokes – with bacon. Yum. See recipe below.
2. Mushroom Toasts – see photo below
3. Shortcakes (not a vegetable, I know, but delicious) – oh and a fun fact, they are called short cakes because the gluten strands are literally short, hence the flakiness.
4. Braised Fennel with Bacon – or Braised Fennel in orange juice and butter.
5. Slow cooked green beans
1. Braising – the main cooking method of 3 of the above recipes, clearly we are onto something here. Slow cooked, small amount of liquid, goodness. Here are some tips on braising.
2. Potatoes – there are tons of varieties, but they all pretty much fall into either high starch (russets), medium starch (yukon golds), low starch (fingerlings) or new potatoes (which are any potatoes that has been harvested before it reaches maturity – like red creamers).
3. Taste – more to come on this in the next list – but the key lesson here is that we really can only taste 5 things – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami – the rest of the flavors that we are tasting are coming in through our nose and sense of smell.
4. Try as I might – I don’t like okra.
1. Craig Stoll – the awesome and inspiring founder of Delfina, Delfina Pizzeria and Locanda. Also a dean and advisor to the SF Cooking School. He came in to give us a pep talk about joining the food industry, he was candid, honest and real with us – welcoming us to his world, letting us know that there is a lot of work ahead to get to where he is and most importantly making himself available to us to answer our questions (both that night and going forward by email). Unfortunately I could not muster up the courage to ask him what he puts in the pizza sauce, Tammie is pretty certain that it’s crack. Here’s a little bit about Craig.
2. Barb Stuckey – a food developer for Mattson and author of Taste, a fascinating book about how/what we taste. She spent the whole evening with us doing a series of activities, tastings, and tricks to see how we taste things. Really interesting stuff – she’s got a few of her experiments on her website – take a look.
3. Galin Garretson of Town Cutler – he came in for a knife sharpening workshop. He is a badass and self-described knife nerd – I really enjoyed the time with him and learned a lot about how to sharpen a knife – and I got my first knife sharpening stone, so I will be doing my own knives going forward…except the serrated ones, those are going to him.
We have a lot of fun upcoming guests including the chef/owner of Nopa as well as a panel of food entrepreneurs in SF. Also I had the chance to be a Teacher’s Assistant for a pastry fundamentals class with Kim Laidlaw, she was awesome and inspiring and someone I hope to work with again in the future.
So as quickly as the 4 weeks have gone, it also feels like I can’t believe I have done so much in just 4 weeks – makes me excited for all that lies ahead. More to come soon…