Sunday, April 22, 2012

Spiders, scales and salamanders...

Whips, paddles, mandolines, spiders, scales and salamanders: the new Cook Basic 1 students are on tour. It’s not Amsterdam’s red light district though, nor an exotic pet shop. Chef-instructor Dan Notley is taking us on our first walk-about through the kitchen at Liaison.

The tools of the trade bear some resemblance to my home kitchen equipment, but are bigger, hotter, faster and sharper. Most home cooks have little need for wire whips and ladles in five different sizes, a broiler (salamander) that can sizzle ten steaks in a flash, or a five-gallon, spigotted stock pot.

To novices in this field, a spider is just another skimmer, a weigh scale is a scale is a scale. The difference between conical strainers (Is it a chinois or a China cap?), a slotted spoon and a perforated
one, or a spaetzle press and a grater are clearly obvious to a food-service pro, but to the newest round of students, the kitchen is a Wonderland of discovery.

As the lessons progress we will surely be seduced by the craft and nipped by the knives and the vegetable slicers (mandolines), but for now this tour is just a tease of the weeks of training to come.

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