Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Culinary School 1: Intro to Professional Cookery

 I ran across this picture the other day and realized that I haven't really gotten into the meat of what I'm doing at culinary school.  This picture is me, at Northwest Cutlery, picking up my knife kit and clothes.  My very first chefs jacket.  It's exciting and nerdy.  The point of this whole thing is, it's high time I tell you all what cooking school is like.  I'm in class 2-3 nights a week, at least 2 of those nights from 6:30 to 11:00 pm for practicum.  Most of the time it's fairly exhausting and sweaty and can be a bit gross but over and above all of that, all the time it is amazingly fun.  I find myself chopping carrots at 10:30 at night, knowing full well that I'll need to get up for work in 7 hours and I'm smiling.  First things first: Intro to Professional Cookery was the absolute basics.  For example how do you cut an onion?  First, place your cutting board on a paper towel so it doesn't slide around the table.  Second, align your board with the edge of the table, about 1 inch from the edge.  Third, grip knife with your thumb and forefinger on the blade, the rest of your hand on the handle.  Fourth, did you wash your hands before you started this project?  Fifth, realign board.  Sixth, grasp knife again.  Seventh, put down chefs knife and pick up paring knife.  Eighth, peel onion with paring knife.  Nineth, pick up chefs knife, slice onion from root to nose.  Tenth, realign cutting board (no doubt it has gone askew).  Eleventh, using the claw formation on your left hand, claw onto the root end of your onion and make many quick, thin diagonal cuts parallel to the veins of the onion.  Twelfth, cut two horizontal cuts with your knife parallel and flat to the board with your chefs knife.  Thirteenth, move your claw over your onion, so you're gripping the whole thing and slice it the opposite direction, making perfect small dice.

Thirteen steps for onion cutting and don't even get me started on tournee potatoes.  The photo on the left is my final from this class.  Tournee potatoes, batonnee carrots, small dice potatoes and onions cut in the manner described above.  All this to say, I've now learned how to properly slice onions, carrots, large chunks of beef, bone marrow, celery, leeks, potatoes, shallots, garlic, chicken, duck, flat fish (like halibut or flounder), round fish (like salmon or trout) and how to make tomatoes portuguese and all kinds of butter.  Clarified butter, butter for your steak, butter for your snails, butter butter butter.  It was a steep learning curve of a quarter, as evidenced by the lack of photo evidence.  I do promise that in the following posts, we will actually get to recipes and more photos.  For now, just the basics.

My first finger condom. Ouch.  


  1. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the finger condom!

  2. Is that b/c you cut yourself? -KW

  3. KW: yep! I cut 1/4 of my middle finger nail off the second day of class and somehow managed to cut the lower bit of my thumb too. These days I'm a bit more knife savvy. But as you well know, once you sharpen those things up, it can get DANGEROUS.