Friday, April 15, 2011

Ten things I've learned so far in culinary school.

I have just completed the first month of culinary school.  I love everything about it and I've learned so much in such a short time. Chef Ted is like a walking encyclopedia of culinary intelligence and in addition to the lesson plans that are a required part of the curriculum; he is very generous in sharing little nuggets of kitchen wisdom with us in every class.

Many of the things that we have worked on are things that I knew already and the techniques are like second nature to me.  I've learned "why" these techniques are best and the reasons why they work. Some of the subjects that we've covered are things I had a vague knowledge of and now I have a much clearer understanding.  And of course, much of what we've learned has been a complete revelation to me!

Here are 10 observations that will forever change the way I work in the kitchen:

·      I will always have clarified butter in the refrigerator.

·      I will make chicken stock more often and freeze it in smaller containers so that it is available for quick sauces and soups.

·      I will start making brown veal stock regularly as well, so it also will be available when needed for sauces and soups.

·      I will never make mashed potatoes with an electric mixer again.

·      I will be better at "mise en place", gathering and prepping all of the ingredients, tools and equipment before I begin to cook.

·      I will keep a colander in the sink as I prep ingredients and cook meals to catch small bits of food that would otherwise dirty the sink or get washed down the drain.

·      I will try to always have a container of water next to the stove to keep the utensils that I am using, changing the water as needed.

·      I will be more vigilant in practicing food safety and avoiding cross contamination when working with raw protein. (Plastic gloves are my friends.)

·      I will continue to always let washed dishes air dry to avoid cross contamination. I always knew there was a good reason for not ever wanting to towel dry the clean dishes!

·      I will stop buying meat in the smallest, most expensive marketed form. (think chicken cutlets).  The most important thing I learned in the lessons on meat and fish fabrication was how easy it is to take a larger, less expensive piece of meat and divide it into it's smaller more desirably cuts.

  I was afraid that the lessons on meat butchering would be impossible for me, considering that i didn't eat meat for over a decade.  I thought I wouldn't be able to look at or even touch some of the proteins that we worked with.  I was fascinated though at how easy it is to separate cuts of meat on many different kinds of animals.  As the chef taught us how to locate the connective tissue, collagen and fat that was separating the muscle tissue I lost any queasy, grossed out feelings that I normally would of had. 

Nothing earth shattering here, right?  It’s all just common sense things that will make life in the kitchen easier.

Until then,
The Garlic Rose


Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I've done the stock thing for years and it really does make a difference. I can't stand canned stock anymore.

I love your update, it's so much fun to watch you do something I've always wanted to do (culinary school).

The Garlic Rose said...

Thank you Rocky Mountain Woman! I don't like the can stocks either. Thanks also for following my culinary scool adventures. I waited a very long time to do this but so far it's worth the wait.

Qixotic Imagery said...

To misquote Voltaire: "Common sense is not so common". It is good to be reminded of the oft overlooked basics so that they can become part of a routine and then not have to be thought of explicitly again.

Thanks for letting us vicariously share your culinary school experiences.

The Garlic Rose said...

Thank you for visiting!

His Way or Her Way said...

A very interesting list and I learned some things! Nice blog and I will be back to read more. I'm your newest follower and I hope you'll stop by and follow my blog too.


The Garlic Rose said...

Hi Lori
Thank you! I did stop by your blog. What a fun idea you and your brother have! I am following you too.

Maureen said...

I do the stock thing but I never thought of a pan of water next to the stove to hold the dirty utensils. I always make a mess and clean it up after. Thanks!