Cooking Class: Part 1

Last week, I did something I had never done before—I attended a cooking class. Despite all my experience in the kitchen, and all the cooking lessons from my mom, I have always been curious about what I might learn from a formal cooking class lead by a professional chef. Knowing that I am independent and stubborn made me hesitant to seek structured instruction, but I decided to look around to see if I could find anything that would inspire me.

At first, I considered the programs offered by the California Culinary Academy, which is associated with the famed Cordon Bleu in Paris. Then I looked at one-time classes that focused on specific recipes. Finally I found something that seemed just right—a three-part class at Sur La Table: Anthony Bourdain’s Basic Techniques, based on his latest book “Medium Raw.” Inspired by his books, travels and an I’ll-eat-anything-for-the-experience sense of adventure, I decided to sign up.

During the first class, we focused on knife techniques, such as for a chiffonade, segmenting oranges, dicing, and mincing. Then we split up the class into different teams to work on our dinner menu: pasta, sauce, mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, and salad with blanched haricot verts. My partner and I were on the very important salad duty. All through the evening, the chef gave us great tips on technique and offered feedback on our work. I also particularly enjoyed working on the presentation for the salad plating.

At the end of the evening, we all sat down at a dinner table to enjoy the meal we had just prepared and we discussed how the dishes turned out. It was great seeing everything come together in a few hours, and sharing something I love to do with others. Did I learn anything new? Of course, but more importantly, I felt confident in my skills and found a sense of home in a professional kitchen environment—thanks Mom, you have taught me well!