This past Saturday was my first full day at culinary school. We got down to actual learning business: food safety, the parts of a knife, and French cuts. It was a really long day but at the end of it, I felt good. Tired but good.
In response to my cooking experience, someone said to me at the lunch break, jokingly, “So all that stuff this morning must have been really fascinating for you.” My response was that I was sure I’d learn a thing or two and that you can’t possibly know everything. And it’s true. No one can know everything about a subject. There’s always something new to learn.
In my case, while I do have a lot of cooking experience, I’m mostly self-taught. I have taken some classes, including a knife skills class a few years ago, but all the finer points of restaurant cooking are new to me. I may know how to cut a carrot into julienne, but if you had asked me last week what the dimensions of a julienne slice are, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you (it’s 1/8 x 1/8 x 2 1/2″). Sharpening a knife properly is something that has always eluded me, and since my style of cooking mimics my family’s, I cook (mostly) rustic style, which means I’ve never had the need to tourné a broccoli stem. (To tourné a vegetable, you have to shape it into a football with four or five sides. It’s tricky.) That’s just a little too fancy schmancy for my taste. Nevertheless, it’s a good skill to have. My tourné wasn’t half bad, but it’s going to take practice to get it right. There’s actually a little knife called a tourné knife. It looks like a paring knife, except that it curves at the top.
Wednesday night, we had some more French knife skills lessons. What was a little scary was the fact that so many people cut themselves. I figured someone would get cut every now and then, but they were dropping like flies on Wednesday. Well, it’s only natural, I suppose. If you take a group of people who don’t know how to properly use a knife and you put very sharp knives in their hands, some damage is going to be done.
The nice thing is that at the end of the day/evening, we get to take the food home. This week, I got a lot of cut vegetables, which I plan on sautéing, making into a soup, and a bagful of diced potatoes are going to be transformed into potato corn chowder or get fried up (yes, I said the “f” word).
The comedy relief came at the beginning of the evening. (This is the knucklehead part.) I was one of the stewards for the night (a steward sets up the food for the class—we get the needed items from cold and dry storage, wash and clean it, and get it all back into storage, as needed, at the end of class). So, I and the other steward went to get our class’s bin of vegetables and stepped into the cold storage case. It’s like a meat locker, only smaller, and, like a meat locker, there’s no handle on the inside, and my classmate and I found ourselves locked in. My classmate began to panic a little (evidently, she’s a little claustrophobic), so I tried to reassure her that someone would be by shortly. We knocked, hoping someone would hear. Then, I remembered that when I’d initially opened the door, it pulled outward. So, I pushed, and it just swung out. We laughed about it, but I demanded that she not tell anyone about it. I said, “No one is to ever know about this!” I’m grateful that no one ever did come by. I’m sure we’ll tell the story to others in the class later on, but for now, I’ll just share it with you.
Please tune in again next week, same chef time, same chef channel. Have a great week.