Sabena, our Library Assistant, is currenly enrolled in the ICC’s Essentials of Fine Cooking class and has wonderfully documented her first week experiences below. Please check back to read about her progress!
Essentials of Fine Cooking class
“Right away Chef!”
These are the voices of the students, including myself, attending the month long seven session course of “Essentials of Fine Cooking” with Chef Jose Menendez. Most of us are not novices, but we are far from experts in cooking in the “fine French way.” With two classes behind us, we have learned how to hold a knife (from the handle) and tailliage. In my kitchen, my knife skills are my own and if Chef Jose or Chef Candy saw me, they would both reach for smelling salts! Did you know that mushrooms and celery needed to be peeled? Peeled! I have spent years not peeling either.
Chef Jose is thankfully a man with a sense of humor and although tough, he is far from being a boot camp sergeant. He has a sense of humor, is generous with his knowledge and has thrown in a few extras. Last night, he showed us how to poach eggs. His emphasis on vegetables cut to please the eye and cooked till tender has been given more than once. He realizes that Americans like their salads, and they prefer their vegetables to be cooked quickly so that they are crisp and crunchy. In la cuisine Française, vegetables are cooked till tender. After all, we are not cows with two stomachs and we do not chew cud. No further discussion needed.
We have tried our hand at cutting vegetables as uniformly as possible to make a broth with coriander, tired our arms while whisking mayonnaise and preparing sauce Hollandaise, and learned that most restaurants poach eggs the night before for brunch service the next morning! Oh, la, la! Best of all, we plated duck confit with a bitter green salad and lemon vinaigrette sprinkled with a macédoine of apples and pine nuts. As Chefs Henri and Sixto know all too well, duck confit is close to my heart. I was overjoyed when I was able to take three legs home! A feast awaits.