Fundamentals of cooking, Week 1

tourneClass is back in session and this quarter, it’s all about the basics. The next 10 weeks will cover many of the fundamentals every chef needs to know in order to build their skill set. My first impression is that I’m really glad I got the baking and pastry class first – I had something delicious to take home on the very first night. By contrast, on the first night of this quarter, our time in the kitchen was only enough to chop 1 onion, 1 carrot (small dice, to be exact) and mince a full bulb of garlic. Not very sexy, but very necessary – getting these fundamental things down pat will lay the groundwork for more advanced techniques.

Our lecture periods so far have been a bit longer too. There is much to learn about the history of cooking and the kitchen, but I think we’ll start to see more kitchen time the further we get into the quarter.

On the second night, we entered into the classic rite of passage for all culinary students: the tourné lesson. Armed with potatoes and carrots, we got to work. The tourné is a classic, bit of old-school cut that cuts the potato into 2” football-shaped pieces, each having 7 sides. It requires a lot of practice to get right. After 45 minutes, I only accomplished getting the football shape, I did not get 7 sides on every piece. It looks so easy when a pro does it, but it’s not that easy at all.

In the upcoming weeks, I’ll have the pleasure of learning how to debone a chicken and a duck and break down a whole fish as well as taking on the mother sauces and much more. I’m less concerned about the fish, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about the chicken. To be honest, I’ve never really cooked meat. By that I mean I’ve never really cooked it, like I’ve been cooking things the last few years. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 5 years, so this will be quite interesting. I guess that all has to go on hold anyway, but I’m ok with that. If I’m totally honest, I do love a roast chicken and have craved a good burger more than once.

Here’s to the next 10 weeks!

 

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