Tag Archives: Culinary School

Sausage Fest!

One of the first things my chef said when he was doing the sausage stuffing demo was, “There’s a pervert in every class, who’s it gonna be?”  Honestly, when it was all said and done, it was probably the most phallic cooking experience I’ve ever had…and kinda liked it!  First off, to learn how to make these little chunks of love was really interesting for me as the Bratwursts are always part of my Oktoberfest Celebration, and spicy Italian sausage is one of the pillars of my Italian food pyramid.  Also, after seeing the different varieties each team was making it was great inspiration to really be creative with your fillings.

Here are some photos from class:


The Spicy Italian Sausage mix, yes those white things are cubes of fat.











Grinding. The plastic over-top not only prevents your meat from flying out into unwanted areas of the table, but can also be fed through the grind to clean out the machine.











Getting the stuffer prepped with the casing...which is the lining of pig intestine.











Here he comes!! This was the Bratwurst, hence the pale pink color.











Sausage everywhere! Twisting them to create links reminded me of how you make balloon animals. I wonder if there is a connection...?











And our end product. A delicious sausage and pepper sandwich!


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New Years Eating Resolutions

Rather than go for the old January stand-by article on ‘Healthy New Years Eating’ and ‘Get Yourself in Shape for the New Year!’ I’ve decided to share my eleven eating and drinking hopes for 2011.

1.  Eat seasonal – I’ve always realized the importance of this but it wasn’t until recently when I just bought some frozen berries at Trader Joe’s and canned tomatoes over the summer, that I’ve actually acted on this mantra.  In the long run I’ll save money for not being a victim of a high mark up, and save the environment by reducing a potential high carbon footprint on food shipped from Chili.

2.  Host a ‘perfect pairing’ dinner party – By early 2011 I will have completed my culinary studies including a six week wine studies course.  This year I will make a strong effort to apply my knowledge to really understanding how wine and food were meant for each other.  This task will be completed by creating a three course ‘perfect pairing’ menu for some friends and myself.

3.  Eat at a foreign restaurant – At this point, there aren’t too many cuisines I haven’t tried.  But I think Turkish and Ethiopian are still on the list.

4.  Give myself recipe freedom – One of the things my school keeps reinforcing is, ‘don’t be so recipe driven.’  I hope to use recipes as a springboard for my own creativity rather than an instructional guide.

5.  Visit a working farm – There is nothing like seeing first hand where food comes from and getting an appreciation for the people who work hard to bring it to us.  

6.  Make a carbonated beverage – Soda makers were the absolute IT gift this year, once they’re back in stock I’m buying one on sale and making some healthy carbonated experiments.

7.  Read a book on food science – While I was never very good at science in school, I always found it interesting.  I think being a great chef requires knowing a little more about the scientific reason behind how food reacts to cooking elements.

8.  Use my new Kitchen Aide Mixer at least once a month – This will include making fresh pasta with the attachment, grinding my own meat (another attachment), and if I get really ambitions try and use it to bake some bread.

9.  Organize my food magazines – Yes I’m one of those people who have piles and piles of food magazines from 2009.  I have some great recipe organizers and hope to find time to consolidate and archive.

10.  Support artisan food makers – To me, these people express the highest level of creativity and bravery.  They are also usually pretty cool people.  This past year I met a beekeeper from Brooklyn, bought artisan ice cream from a farm in Ohio and got hooked on chili mango ice pops.

11.  To continue to appreciate the vast culinary universe, to never feel like cooking is a chore; to never lose the sense of joy I get from setting a plate down in front of a guest, and try and live each day for the love of food.

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Culinary Camp for Kids

I just read this article from the WSJ about a serious culinary camp for kids.

I honestly was a little disturbed by the fact that some kids come already knowing how to make a hollandaise sauce and some claim to have made  kielbasa when they were two!  Aside from that, they argue over which celebrity chefs are better.  It seems this is a new generation of ‘stage mom and dads’ who brainwash their kids and pigeon hole them into one thing, rather than let kids find out on their own terms what their interests are and maybe being more well-rounded. 

A little army of mutant chefs are coming out of these camps with abilities I have just barely mastered in 3 months of culinary school!

I’m not sure if I should be afraid or disgusted.  Childhood should be fun, without the pressure of a screaming chef and mastering a julienne cut.

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Knife Skills and CHEESEEEEEE

‘I want your parsley to be like a green breeze has swept across this kitchen!’  As if me and my relationship with parsley wasn’t already on the fence!  My arm was about ready to fall off as I chopped my bunch of parsley into oblivion last night.  This of course took place after we practiced julienne cuts on celery and carrots and then diced onion and potatoes. This hard work was rewarded however with a cheese tasting after which I literally felt my arteries working over-time to pump through my heart!  Either that or I was seriously in love with French cheese.   

I have a test today on kitchen safety!  Wish me luck!

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First Day of School!

Yesterday was my first day of culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education!  After making a mad dash from the subway to my apartment to Staples to get a lock for my locker I huffed and puffed my way to the 6th floor registrar’s office.   They unloaded an encyclopedic size text book along with some other smaller sized guides and specialty books.  Next a picture for my school ID which will get me discounts at William Sonoma and Sur la Table!!  I did a quick change into my chef uniform (with my name embroidered on it!) and made some small talk with the rest of the students as we waited for the chef to arrive.  As we went around the 15 person class I learned that 5 of us were all marketing, advertising refugees!  And the chef made a very good point that the two disciplines are quite parallel.  In both, you are dealing with deadlines, a ton of information coming at you very quickly, having to improvise when things change, project management and working together to push out a final product.  Most of the class was devoted to academic policy but I did learn about some fun perks!  Food Network and Bravo are always doing casting calls at the school, even Mr. Gordan Ramsey!  The chef  made it clear that he would have a long and serious talk before we put ourself out for that one!  We also received our knife kits.  They gave us some really beautiful knives, bigger and sharper than I’ve ever seen!  Unwrapping and putting them in the corresponding sheath was quite nerve-wracking.  Especially after the chef told us a story about how one of his students cut open a major artery they first time he did this.  Today will probably be some culinary history and knife skills!

Bonus to all friends.  I can take you to a recreational class for 25% off and you’ll want to come by on Wednesdays to eat all the leftovers from Monday and Tuesday.  The kitchen has a whole area devoted to take-home containers.

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