This week we started creating dishes and learning about the important basics, like stocks, sauces, and wet/dry cooking methods. We started off by creating stocks, then using those to make sauces, and finally using the sauces on the dishes we made using wet and dry cooking methods. It was cool to see how each element builds upon the previous. In lecture and demo, we learned about the five Mother Sauces (Tomato, Veloute, Espagnole, Bechamel, and Hollandaise) that can be expanded into tons of different variations. It’s interesting to see how many different sauces can be made from such simple bases. After sauces, we dove into wet and dry cooking methods, and began making complete dishes. My favorites were mostly dry, like sweet potato fries and fried green tomatoes. We experimented a bit with creating different dipping sauces for our fries, and it was fun to see what different flavor combinations worked. Plating was also a new aspect for this week. Creating interesting and appealing plate designs is harder than it seems, but definitely fun! We are going to go more in depth with plating techniques later in the course, and I am quite excited for that.
On Thursday we had our first written test, which ended up not being too daunting, thankfully! Once we wrapped up fundamentals, we got a taste of Conscious Cooking. We started learning a bit about the importance the ingredients you choose, the techniques you use, and the energy you put into each dish. As part of the class, we all ventured outside to the lawn for some stretching, which was something extra fun and different from any traditional learning environment I’ve ever been in. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve never been in a class where we got to hang outside and give each other back massages. It was pretty delightful, and again showed me that this program is so different from the learning environments I’m used to. It is so great to be in a place where the students’ mental and physical health is so important! After that fun excursion, we were introduced to the owner of Natural Epicurean, Rich Goldstein. He told us about his journey to where he is now and really stressed how genuinely important the success of all the students is to him and the school. Every day I’m shown more and more that everyone at this school really is invested in the students success. It is so refreshing!