You know that feeling when you stare down at a syllabus on the first day of class,
and you feel an overwhelming rush when you see how much you will learn, tests you will have and homework to complete?
How is it possible to make it to that last day of class???
I totally had these moments all throughout pursuing my undergrad degree.
Aaand well, culinary school is no exception.
Those same thoughts flooded my mind on the first day of culinary school.
9 months of craziness ahead. Good craziness. Transformative craziness.
I will be in school until next August (yes, I know…it’s technically longer than 9 months due to holidays…)
And wanna know the craziest part?? 😀
My cooking is already changing! I can feel it. And i’m only on the 3rd week!
Cooking at home is one thing.
Cooking professionally is an entirely different ball game.
Let’s talk class at The International Culinary Center, shall we?
It’s intense already, guys.
First off, being on time and attendance is absolutely crucial for a successful culinary student.
Lucky for me, I never miss school and i’m a freak about being on time…so should be fine with that.
You want to arrive to school about 30 minutes before class starts – to change into your uniform and get your Mise En Place…which in French means “to put in place.” Which is a VERY IMPORTANT term by the way.
Basically you just need to set up your work area, and have all your tools ready to go for class. It’s expected that you come to class in your clean chef attire, bring your knife kit, you have read the assigned chapter, and hand wrote out all the recipes on index cards for the days lesson.
What i’m quickly learning is that any good chef is SUPER organized.
Because what does organizaion equal? Efficiency. What does efficiency equal? More money.
Our chef outfit consists of – chef coat, checkered baggy pants, clog non-slip shoes, neckerchief and a little white hat. I also cannot wear nail polish, nails need to be trimmed, hair back/under hat and no perfume. Whomp. Whomp. Food safety first!?
In class we each get our own station/area. There are about 15 or so students in my class. My teacher is Chef Scott. You always refer to a Chef, by “Chef.” You also respond to them saying “Yes Chef” or “No Chef.” We also have two other instructors to help us. I really got lucky with great Chef instructors.
It’s nice to have so many teachers floating around to help and answer questions.
Class starts with roll call. If you are a few minutes late the instructor most likely won’t allow you to attend class. Not attending class lowers your grade. Again, attendance and being punctual is extremely important. A professional kitchen is all about team work and efficiency.
Chef Scott usually lectures for a bit about the lesson and explains what we will be doing for class that day. Then he shows us what to do and we all go to our stations and do it. We have partners which change weekly.
Some things we’ve learned so far…
LOTS of vocabulary – mostly French words. Cooking is learning a language.
For example…washing vegetables is actually called levage and slicing something is called emincer.
We started learning knife skills from day 1.
That means – knowing how to properly hold a knife, different cutting styles and techniques. Knowing how to use a knife properly is such a foundational skill to have. Also, something that will take the longest to develop.
This requires lots of practice out of class.
Learning how to cut properly is challenging as well. You want everything to be the same size and different cuts require specific measurements. For example – a julienne cut is supposed to be 1-2mm x 7cm. I always thought a julienne was just a slice. Nope, incorrect. It is an exact measurement 😛
Along with cuts and knife skills, we’ve learned how to cook vegetables in different ways, learned how to tournage or “turn” vegetables and made 5 different kinds of stocks.
Stocks are one of the most basic fundamental things to know. It’s the basis of many sauces, soups and added to lots of dishes.
Later this week, we are using our stocks to make sauces!
While writing this post i’ve realized how much i’ve already learned. Trying to condense it is definitely a challenge!
My cooking has changed already because i’m getting a grasp of new cooking methods and really understanding foundational cooking techniques.
What makes a good chef isn’t necessarily how good they are at a particular technique – it’s being able to pull together all of your knowledge of flavors and techniques and create an amazing dish.
The beginning of culinary school fun!
Thanks so much for visiting LEFT SIDE OF THE TABLE today! 🙂 Happy hump day!