A peek inside the kitchen lab. Thanks Seattle Food Geek
The most epic of epic cookbooks has been delayed until march. Bummer. Here are some articles about it though.
- Gastronomes Await ‘Modernist Cuisine’
- A Rare Peek Inside the Modernist Cuisine Kitchen
- This Is a $625 Cookbook
You can still pre order it on Amazon here for $500.
This epic new book promises to be the greatest set of culinary works ever. It will top every cooking related book ever written. If it wasn’t $500 I would buy it today.
This blog is coming back to life. I’ve been a slacker. I am almost done with school now and I am way behind on level recaps. In the next few days I’m going to try to catch up with the blog and maybe throw up some unique recipes. I’m continually busy and need to find a job soon, but I will do my best.
Just a quick note about offal (organ meat) day. It sounds fun in theory but in practice it is something much different.
First off, I like most offal dishes, I like sweet breads and livers and tripe. The issue is, no one want to eat liver for breakfast, sweetbreads for lunch, and kidneys and tongue for afternoon snack. It was just way too much for one day of class.
Level 1 Re-cap
As some of you may know, the FCI Classic Culinary program is broken up into 6 levels. Each level is 4 weeks long. For our class level one ended about a week ago.
Topics covered in level 1 include: knife skills, stocks, sauces, most basic meats, salads and more. The first level moves very fast. We spend one day on each topic and learn about 3-5 recipes a day. These recipes illustrate common cooking techniques for the days topic, for example on fish day we prepared fish by sauteing, frying, poaching and baking in parchment.
The Frenchman: the head chef of our kitchen is what I picture as your typical French chef. He came up through the French apprentice system and was a chef for many years before coming to the school about 15 years ago. He can be a little rough around the edges and a little surly at times but he is a great guy. One thing I learned very early on was to pay attention to everything he says. You only get one shot at executing your dish properly so don’t fuck it up.
I do however have one gripe, he changes the recipes in the book quite often because they are “wrong.” I don’t have a problem with them being changed but It can get really confusing when the recipe cards I prepared the night before are quickly made irrelevant. Beyond that I think he is a great teacher and a great man.
The Non-Frenchman: The second chef in our kitchen can be a ball buster but he is also a good guy. I don’t really remember but I think he is an alumni of FCI and worked in a number of upscale restaurants prior to coming here to teach about five years ago. He is also very knowledgeable about classic technique and offers a lot of insight into the running of a restaurant and making a profit doing it. He can also be pretty tough when you don’t pay attention to instructions or if you have a messy station.
Level one is a lot of fun and it is stressful as hell. The goal of our chefs, and the school overall, is to prepare us for the real world. There is great emphasis placed on efficiency, precision and speed. Knife skills are very important and can make the difference between the chef being on your case and completing a decent dish. Also, the ability to think through a recipe in order to limit wasted time and trips across the kitchen is even more important, the more efficiently you work the more time you have to focus on cooking and technique and the better your dishes come out.
We are always in a rush, even when we don’t need to be. I’m sure this is also to prepare us for the real world, but it’s a real pain. Sometimes we will finish for the day, clean up, and pack up with 30 minutes left in class. The problem with that is our chef can’t let us go early so we end up hanging around or reviewing the lesson unnecessarily.
Overall I’m having a great time. My classmates are great and are a very diverse group.
I’m hoping to be able to dedicate a little more time to my blog than I have been but I’m still getting used to the commute and the busy schedule.
Sorry I’ve been neglecting my blog. It has been a hectic first week.
Well, orientation was on monday. It was pretty short and sweet but it was full of info. Primarily we went over school policies and met some of the people there that will be helping us along . Alain Sailhac came and gave a fairly inspirational speech about passion for cooing and the importance of it in our lives. Nils Norén introduced himself to our class as well. Just a note: the three most notable chefs at the school, Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac, and André Soltner, don’t actually teach classes but they do frequent demos and are accessible to the student willing to go talk to them.
What impressed me most about our orientation wasn’t the notable chefs that were there or the cool uniforms we got; it was the class itself.
Our class is very diverse and an impressive bunch. There are students from 8 different countries (India, Peru, Venezuela, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, Nigeria and Mexico) and from the East and West coasts of the United States. We are mostly in the mid twenties to mid thirties with a couple outliers on both ends. To be honest it reminded me of the start of the top chef season, but without the cooking skills.
There were are the usual characters:
- A foreign guy with a fedora
- A mom with kids older than some of us
- An impeccably dressed mexican man
- A fat younger guy that might drink too much (remember Mike, Top Chef 2)
- and, An overly confident and cocky SOB.
The only difference was that none of us know how to cook.
Following the presentation there was a reception with wine and canapes. It was a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a bit more about the school. Overall I got a great impression from the staff and instructors.
Tomorrow I will get up some posts about the first few days.
slowrain-deactivated20100802 asked: Hi there. I've just recently signed up as well. I have two requests, one of which may not interest you:
1. Could you post a very simple recipe or two for chocolate truffles or something similar? My wife and I like chocolate, but it's expensive at the shop we go to. I'd like to make something simple at home.
2. My second request would be a few very simple recipes every now and then. We live in Taiwan and cook every day, but it has to be quick, easy, healthy, and use common ingredients. Meat, vegetable, and noodle dishes are all fine, but my wife doesn't eat fish, although she loves shrimp.
Good luck with the new career and your class. I look forward to reading your blog.
Thanks for the requests. I’ve never made truffles but I will keep my eyes peeled for a good recipe. In the mean time check out the directory, there are a ton of blogs that focus on sweets.
I plan on adding recipes as I start cooking a lot more. I’ve actually got a list started of recipes I want to share. I just haven’t cooked any of them recently so I don’t have any photos. You can’t have a good recipe post without photos.
Thanks again for your comments and suggestions.
Orientation for the French Culinary Institute is tomorrow. I’m a little nervous, actually I’m a lot nervous. I’ve always hated first days. I used to cry the first day of school until I was about 10 years old. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m not really good at making friends or breaking the ice with people.