Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The secret's in the sauce...and the soup, and the appetizers.

Where Cook Basic classes hinge on foundation and technique, Advanced students spend a lot of time expanding on those fundamentals and nurturing their creativity. With Advanced classes following on the heels of Basic level, students are thrown right into a series of days that test their memory, concentration, creativity and organizational skills.

The challenge starts with sauces: reviewing the five mother sauces that are spun like gold into dozens of delectable smooth-as-velvet, sweet, savory, fiery or tangy finishes that can make a well-crafted dish pop, sizzle and sing.

Simon whipped up a Hollandaise sauce
over hot water.
During Week Two they revisit a number of soups and breads, and learn a few new ones along the way. The process of making a sparkling clear consomm√© is reviewed, from its birth as a full-flavored stock through its clarification. With a list of 15 different soups- everything from purees and cream soups to clear broths- they build their repertoire of breads alongside. The week culminates in a two-hour demonstration of their skills, with five soups and five breads to show for their efforts. 

Nathan made crispy chips from paper-thin
slices of  candy cane beets.
Appetizer week finds the budding chefs turning out progressively more imaginative and abundant morsels. The final day finds them absorbed in the kitchen, their concentration casting a blanket of silence save for the muted thud of knives against the cutting boards. This deceiving stillness, though, gives way to the clatter of china plates with the call from Chef Dan, “Five minutes to service, folks!”

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