A quick visit to Merida Yucatan

Today Roberto Solis came to our school.  He is a chef from Merida Yucatan and he is here on the behalf of the Mexican embassy to promote his country.  Roberto is a chef who owns the restaurant Nectar in Merida.

Roberto Solis explaining the dishes he was planning to prepare

Roberto Solis explaining the dishes he was planning to prepare

Two weeks earlier the Mexican embassy sent some representatives to show off some the Mexican wines they are producing.  I must admit what I tasted surprised me.  I did not expect to taste good wines from Mexico.  Monte Xanic Cabernet Sauvignon was top shelf.

The team from the Mexican embassy.  Baltazar, Marcella and Pilar

The team from the Mexican embassy. Baltazar, Marcella and Pilar

Roberto has spent his summers working at some of the worlds top restaurants.  He spent a summer at the Fat Duck in Bray UK working under Heston Blumenthal.  Another summer he spent working at Noma in Copenhagen which is run by René Redzepi and is equally avant garde.  Then to top it off he spent a summer working at Per Se in NYC.  Pretty impressive résumé for a 27 year old.

Roberto put together 3 dishes with the help of two of my students.  One of the dishes was a gelled cube of tomato with a purée of corn tortilla which was heated and the foam was extruded with a foam canister. The other was a deer tartare with a cilantro emulsion, avocado, radish brunoise and charcoal infused oil.

Deer tartare

Deer tartare

Roberto plating the Deer Tartare dish

Several of my student's helping Roberto plate

It was a long day filled with tons of media diversions.  As a mater of fact our week has been one long line of media diversions.  Wednesday FOX network filmed some footage about career changers (this should air live this coming Monday on FOX report channel 42 on Comcast between 8-9am); a fine arts photographer took shots of us all day on the Wednesday; the following day someone from Colorado Homes & Lifestyles came and took some food shots for their magazine and a photographer for the Mexican embassy came to take shots of Roberto cooking with us.  Finally today a young student from Metro college came to take food shots to build a food photography portfolio.  She will be collaborating with us on a regular basis.

The day Roberto came was also filled with a little unexpected drama as we had a “cook for a day” (prospective student) that cut his thumb pretty bad and had to be taken in for stitches.   He was pretty tenacious and made it back in time for lunch sporting a well bandaged thumb.

The final dish that Roberto put together for us that day was the most impressive. He poached an egg in its shell at precisely 145 degrees in a thermo recirculator that I had to borrow from Douglas Baldwin (who if you have been keeping up on this blog is studying for a math PHD at CU Boulder and is in the process of writing a book).   Basically what Roberto did was to deconstruct a Taco.  The taco shell element was masa rolled into little spheres and deep fried, the black bean came in powder form, the red onion was turned into a foam and the chorizo was turned into a sauce. The precisely cooked egg was cracked and the white was delicately removed from the yolk and placed on the plate.  Eating all the elements together instantly conjured a taco. True deconstruction.

Deconstructed taco

Deconstructed taco

Overall the day was stunning and memorable.  The opportunity to see how other chefs reflect on their traditional foods in exciting.

The largest class I have ever taught

18 (missing one) eager new Cook Street 180 Culinary Students

18 (missing one) eager new Cook Street 180 Culinary Students

There has been a lot of activity here at Cook Street in the past few months.  CFD (cook for a day) after CFD and interview after interview.   All this activity has resulted in the largest class I have ever taught.  The downturn of the past year took its toll on every business and if our present enrollment is any indication of a shift in consumer confidence then our newest class is a tangible sign.  There have been a few small adjustments made to accommodate our new group, but it is challenge we welcome.  We have enlisted the help of two of our alumnus as Teacher’s Assistants to help us to better serve this larger group.  It is a pleasure to help these TAs in their personal development and to show them what is involved in teaching. Thank you Sharon Talbert and Patricia Belaire for agreeing to help us.

I look forward to getting to know each of these new students as individuals and to help them reach their dreams.  Of course we are already eating good food and drinking good wine. Here was today’s menu:

Gorgonzola tart with roasted red peppers and parsley puree

Gorgonzola tart with roasted red peppers and parsley puree

Roated pork loin with red pepper coulis and potato galette

Roasted pork loin with red pepper coulis and potato galette

Fig and prune clafoutis

Fig and prune clafoutis

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