Week 1: Educational tsunami

The fighting geoducks are probably wondering why I have been so remiss in my blogging. They were used to my daily bleetings on their dishes.  So why have taken the foot off the accelerator?

Two reasons: 1, the first week of culinary instruction was really busy and kind of tiring and 2 I felt that I accomplished the daily log of all the dishes we did during the course of the last class (with the exception of the first week) and feel that I want to take a different angle with this group. Still trying to figure out what that angle will be (ideas are welcome).

My role at the school is quickly evolving and it is clear that I will be in charge of more stuff soon. I welcome the challenge and look forward to contributing my ideas to making Cook Street the best Culinary School possible.

The week was intense as everyone is trying to figure out the kitchen and their respective instructor’s style.  I am always amazed at how quickly a routine can be created and how quickly we can progress.

I was not at my best on the photo duties and contrary to my habit, I actually took more pictures of the pastry kitchen’s contributions.

So to summarize the week’s menus.

First day of cooking (Tuesday) we teach our students about how to set up each station and how to plan out the days cooking tasks (prioritizing our mise en place, cooking times etc.). The appetizer course from GM was a deconstructed roquefort tart on puff pastry (the custard didn’t quite set up in time, but the flavor was great). The main course was roasted pork loin. Unfortunately the only shot I took was of a boozy prune clafoutis for dessert (which also didn’t quite set up completely, but bacteria could have never survived under such high alcoholic conditions). So not our most stellar day but understandable for the first week while we get used to working with each other.

Wednesday: The focus was on everyone learning how to make and bake bread. So the menu was up to Chef Dale and myself. Chicken vegetable noodle soup: not your grandmother’s chicken n noodle soup (no offense to your granny but ours is better). Tender homemade pasta, finely diced vegetables , housemade chicken stock, perfectly cooked chicken breast and a little persillade for good measure.

Thursday: now menus already get to be little more challenging and creative.

Grilled fennel salad with beet vinaigrette and orange suprêmes

This was followed by roasted duck breast on a bed of leek confit and purée Parmentier with Fines Herbes (or PCCT: parsley, chervil, chives and tarragon) and sautéed mushrooms.

For dessert we had a pastry cream stuffed saffron poached pear with cardamom crème anglaise and a tuile cage.

I joked that it was the most expensive dessert in the world because it uses the 3 most expensive spices in the world (in order: saffron, vanilla and cardamom).

Friday: Was a particularly busy day for me as I was trying to get all the instruction for the day done as well as M.E.P. for the Taste 5 that evening.

I have been handed ownership of Taste 5s from now on and I want to make sure it runs smoothly and it accomplishes what I believe it has morphed into over the years. There have been around a 120 of these Taste 5s over the course of the school’s history and originally they were intended to give the public a view into our programs, provide education about wine and food pairing and to entice them to join in our fun.

I want the T5s to be instructional, to showcase our students to the general public and in the process entice our paying guests to spread the word about our school. It might take me awhile to accomplish these goals, but I can see glimmers of acceptance of these ideas.

The menu for the day was quite fun;

Provençale tomato and gruyere tart. This is one of my favorite dishes from Provence and always reminds me of my good friend Michel Depardon (who died about 3 years ago. Too long of a story for this post, but suffice to say this man had a lot of influence on my culinary perspective and my life).

He used to teach the students this tart when I would bring them over to Provence under the employ of CSR. It has all the elements of a great dish and of the products of Provence. Tomato , gruyère, pâte brisée, spicy Dijon mustard and basil. This version came close to honoring his memory.

For the main course. We worked on salmon wrapped in Kataifi with a Moroccan tagine based broth (saffron, coriander, cumin, preserved lemon, chicken broth and green olives.  Let’s just say that we had issues with the salmon and that what could have been an easy day turned into a more difficult one.

Of course the best thing about this dish is that I get to do my rasta albino chef imitation with the kataifi.

For dessert we had the ubiquitous molten chocolate cake with raspberry ice cream. Molten chocolate cake is essentially an unfinished chocolate cake or a cake that has been pulled out of the oven early (bakeus interruptus) so that the sides of the cake firm up but the center is still uncooked and since it came out of a 500° oven it is molten.  What is not to like?

That concludes the food we prepared for the first week.  Not bad considering the newness of its makers.

T5 (the theme was Red Hot Rio) was a big success and all the particpants were happy.  Don and Thomasino came to lend a hand as well as Alice, Lauren and Erin form this present class.

Thanks for you help.  It was great to have such a good student turnout.

I was tired from such a long week. But up for Week 2.  More adventures await.

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