The Birthing of 9 Chefs

How did this happen? I've been in culinary school for 2 whole weeks now and I haven't posted a thing! So much to tell you about...

The first day of class finally arrived on April 1 for 9 very passionate culinary students. Here we are in our chef garb just this past Saturday, which was the first time we were allowed in the kitchen. As you may remember, I was all worried about the hat. In the end I found the perfect purple and blue striped cotton and hemp hat, even locally made. (I'm the one front and center -- note the hat.)

And just what do they teach in culinary school? Well, we had 5 classes before we were even allowed in the kitchen. There was instruction on kitchen basics like measurements (yes, math conversions--never one of my favorite subjects in school). So you take a recipe that serves 4 and make it serve 45. Believe me those 3 tablespoons become a nightmare. There was also nutrition analysis, macro- and micronutrients, sanitation, and then finally we got into the kitchen to learn knife skills. We were each loaded down with carrots, celery, potatoes, onions, basil, bell peppers, jalepenos, and more. And there was my little cheat sheet of all the cuts--chiffonades, cubes, fine dices, etc.--quickly bloodied by the juice of a strawberry sliced into a decorative fan and by the drippings from a supremed blood orange.

And you should see what Chef Brian Keane did with the bell pepper. I've never seen anything like it. He cut off the top and the bottom. The stem popped right out of the top leaving an impressive ring for garnishing. He then made one vertical cut and opened up the pepper. He took out the ribs and laid the pepper out flat. From there he was able to cut it into even strips. I, for one, was quite impressed by this.

Anyway, as I said we weren't in the kitchen until Saturday but that isn't entirely true as we were allowed in the kitchen to clean it. So class started each day with a lecture, followed by our instructor do a cooking demo, all the while telling us what she was doing. After the demo we each had our assigned tasks for cleaning up. And I mean CLEAN right down to the floor being mopped.

Though we have "guest appearances" by other chefs, our main instructor is Chef Karen Diggs.
She apprenticed with a French chef, she has also opened restuarants in Hong Kong and the US, as well as worked with celebrity chefs on TV. She even worked in a "silent kitchen" at one point. Where apparently you get your orders at the beginning of the shift then no one talks in the kitchen (except for safety). She says this is the ultimate in discipline and focus. She likes us to be on time "because a sense of timing is critical to cooking" and reminded us what her teacher used to say to her was, "A dull knife is a dull mind."

Well, I need to go sharpen my knife and my mind!

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