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Knives and Fire I

My first day at Center for Kosher Culinary Arts Professional training program.

Ten students, five each. Some for professional reasons, some just to learn. Chef Avram Wiseman is our teacher. And there was no fire today.

The first half of the class was lecture – we discussed definitions (what is a chef,what is a kitchen brigade, what are various cuisines), professionalism and the uniform. He does NOT like Crocs and prefers steel-toed work shoes. I just bought a pair of steel-toed work shoes. It makes sense – non-sliip soles for wet and dangerous floors, good support, protects against spills and, well, you are dealing with heavy equipment in a kitchen. We also had text-books and homework.
We also discussed the syllabus – this is a college level class and we are treating it as such. We also discussed food safety.

After lunch, we did knife skills, and more food safety discussion – we all wore gloves and sanitized our boards and knives with bleach sanitizer (a capful in a liter of water in a spray bottle.) These were NOT the knives we will get tomorrow, and they were, well. Not very sharp. *Sigh*. He even demonstrated knife sharpening in an attempt to help, before having us change to “kiwi” knives (third from the top. Lightweight and happily sharp.) This meant I did my chiffonade six times, and mostly crushed them before chef was satisfied.

Chiffonade – stack leaves like a deck of cards. Roll them tightly. Slice very, very thin with a rocking/slicing motion. We chiffonaded basil. Oh, did that smell good!

We also had to slice onions and segment oranges. I spent so much time with the chiffonade that they ran out of oranges and time. But he liked my onions.

Segment oranges – Carefully slice the peel off an orange, following the curve of the fruit and then removing as much white as possible. Slice next to the membrane to remove each segment, using paring knife. Work over a bowl. When all the “meat” is removed, squeeze over the bowl. We will have fruit salad this coming Shabbat…

Slicing onions – peel using paring knife. Remove end of the root, but leave the root ball. Cut in half through the root. Put flat end on board and cut in thin slices in either direction.

Between vegetables, boards and knives to be sanitized. My gloves were too big, so I changed to a smaller pair. Knives on table on top of board when not in use. Make sure no peel or root in onions,no basil in orange.

Wash board and knife. Then we did precise cuts – julienne and brunoise. We used peeled carrots.

Julienne: 1/8″x1/8″x2″. He provided a ruler. Cut carrot into 2″ lengths. Shave one side so carrot lies flat. Cut 1/8″ wide slices. Pile half neatly. Cut 1/8″ wide slices of the slices. Julienned carrot.

Bruniose (brunWA) 1/8″ cubes. Yes. That tiny. Cut the juliennes into 1/8″ lengths. Used for garnish and soups.

He liked my juliennes and bruniose. But I do have experience and I told him so.

Finally – slice and mince shallots. Peel shallots like onions. Cut in half through root.

Slice: slice straight down to create half-circles, as finely as possible.

Mince: cut from the root to the front, leaving root intact. Slice horizontally several times. Slice straight down as close together as possible. Rock knife over the shallot to mince.

He liked my shallots, too. I redeemed myself from my chiffonade.

We were given our uniform – chef’s jacket, bib apron and hat (I don’t have to wear it as my hair is already covered.) I’m going to see if I can buy at least one more jacket and apron, since I only do laundry once a week. We were also given our texts: On Cooking, which is huge and heavy, and ServSafe Essentials,which is our food safety wookbook. We had to read a chapter in each and answer the questions. We do not need to bring them to class.

Tomorrow is a fast day. I do not fast. I can leave to eat when I need to.

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Categories: cooking, Cooking school
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