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All things culinary.

Post 1

FG

I just dropped by and noticed that you're in Culinary Arts school. I've been toying around with that idea myself for a few years now. Although you can't completely compare diletantism (sp?) with professionally cooking for large groups, I do love to cook and bake. A lot. I dropped out of graduate school (Historic Preservation) several years ago, and while I very much love my current job, I think I would like to go back to school and try something new.

That's the wind up, and here's the pitch:smiley - silly

How are you liking Culinary Arts school? What words of wisdom do you have for someone considering entering the field?


All things culinary.

Post 2

Icarus

Well, I just started about two months ago so I don't know how much validity what I'm saying has, but I like it. Some of the things I don't much care for, such as Espagnole (more than a day of preparation for a bland, flavorless sauce), but mostly it's good. All sorts of new food to try, and they teach you how to cut things up really fast. Which isn't to say I can cut things with any degree of speed, but I'm learning.

As for advice, I'd say that if you really like cooking and don't mind tedium interspersed with periods of sheer unadulterated panic and people yelling "Go do this french word you've never heard before to this vegetable you've seen maybe once in your life" or "Cut that piece of unidentifiable animal tissue into and then it", then you're more suited than I am. Seriously though, if you think you might like it, try it out. Just be prepared to gain a few pounds. And make sure you buy lots of stain remover.


All things culinary.

Post 3

FG

Why did you pick Grand Rapids? Just for geographical ease? My friends are egging me on to apply to the Culinary Institute of America. I definitely wanted to go to a real culinary arts school, and not just my local vo-tech.
Speed and neatness in cutting and slicing is something I really need to brush up on before I have people yelling commands in French at me! smiley - biggrin Dicing veggies to create confetti-sized pieces is totally beyond my abilities at this time...


All things culinary.

Post 4

Icarus

I picked it partly because it was close (about an hour and a half from where I lived) but also because it's one of the top 5 culinary programs in the country. Which is a good deal, considering that it's a quite a lot cheaper than, for instance, the CIA. And given that I'm paying for it out of a relatively small college fund, that's very useful.


All things culinary.

Post 5

FG

Just so's I can be lazy and not have to do any research, which are the top schools that are relatively affordable in your opinion?

I've noticed the CIA is pretty spendy, so I've been hedging. I'd like to get the two cents from someone who's actually in school rather than their brochure...smiley - smiley


All things culinary.

Post 6

Icarus

In general, culinary school is a fairly expensive proposition. There's the massive investment on the part of the school in stoves and pots and tables and things, not to mention the actual food. And then there's the knives which, for a decent set, can run from "a bit steep" to "GNP of Peru". On the other hand, there's a massive payoff later on. In the case of the CIA, simply being a graduate of it generally entitles you to getting paid more money, simply because people are used to CIA graduates thinking they deserve more money than their skills would tend to suggest. Cordon Bleu is pretty good, Escoffier is okay, and of course they'll all tell you they're the best deal possible. It really depends on where you are, what you want to do, and what your definition of "affordable" is. Generally they cost about the same per year as a normal college, if that helps.


All things culinary.

Post 7

FG

You have to provide your own set of knives?

Not that I would mind that. Some people have no idea how to sharpen theirs...there's nothing (except for a filthy kitchen) worse than cooking at a friend's house and having to use their dull, dull, dull, knives...


All things culinary.

Post 8

Icarus

GRCC sells a set of halfway decent knives at a reduced rate, I expect most of the other colleges do too. My only problem with them, other than the fact that I only have a vague idea about how to use them "properly", is that they don't hold an edge. I've been told that carbon steel or high-carbon stainless works better as a blade material, but that doesn't help the fact that some of them have difficulty cutting paper unless I sharpen them more often than I'd like. I also hate dull knives. The whole point of them is to cut things. How are you supposed to cut things if the knife isn't sharp?


All things culinary.

Post 9

FG

Oh, you do slice things--your fingers and not the object on the cutting board. Dull knives are far more dangerous than sharp ones--with sharp ones you have precision and speed, but look who I'm talking to, I'm preaching to the choir! smiley - tongueout

I've heard the same. When plunking down your hard-earned cash, always buy carbon steel. My parents had a full set of J.A. Henckels I loved to use when I was still living at home. I tried to convince my mom to give them to me when I moved out, but no luck! As you can imagine...


All things culinary.

Post 10

Icarus

I've got some low-end stamped Henckels at home and some...well I don't know who exactly makes them. Chef Revival or something like that. They're my school knives and they don't stay sharp. I don't know if the Henckels stay sharp, I haven't been using them long enough to find out. The higher-end stuff is very nice, though.


All things culinary.

Post 11

FG

They stayed pretty sharp, but then of course, when you spend that kind of money, you tend to take care of your investment very carefully. My parents bought one of those electric knife sharpeners, on top of the sharpening steel that came with the set.

I have some sub-standard knives at home "Tools of the Trade". I bought them on sale at a local department store. They do the job alright, but they're pretty darn cheap...

Whenever I finally get married I want Henckels knives, Calphalon pots and pans (Le Creuset is too heavy for me to pick up once they're full of ingredients), a Cuisinart, and the Kitchen Aid mixer with all the bells and whistles. That's not asking too much, is it?


All things culinary.

Post 12

Icarus

I agree about the pots. I've got Calphalon and I love it. Although there is that annoying thing about not being able to use metal on it.


All things culinary.

Post 13

FG

I thought it was always recommended to use wooden spoons and instruments on any pan...excepting the whisk, of course.

A close friend and her husband got a full set of Calphalon for their wedding. I like going over there just to use them!

I'm realizing that I have complete crap for being such a great cook. I need to get some better quality stuff, pronto! It certainly makes me look bad...


All things culinary.

Post 14

Icarus

In actual resturants wooden implements are illegal because they can harbor bacteria. I've got all nylon stuff and it seems to work out pretty well. If you want my opinion, go for the knives first.


All things culinary.

Post 15

FG

Wow, I didn't know that! I love using my old funky wooden spatula. Maybe I should take a closer look at the "funky" aspect....

Nylon? What have manufacturers done to make it hold up against the heat? Or do you have to be careful with them, as with plastic, to prevent melting and damage.


All things culinary.

Post 16

Icarus

I have got one of them that's a bit melted, but that's only because I accidentally knocked it into the burner. Other than that they seem to hold up fine. A word of advice if that happens to you: don't poke at the melted spot with your finger to confirm that it is indeed melted. It hurts. I'm not entirely sure what they've done to them, but I've had them in boiling water and they don't seem to turn to liquid. I expect it's similar to those silicone spatulas that will take 400 degrees. Excellent invention, those. My father ruined some lovely spaghetti sauce when I was younger when the spatula melted into it. Nice swirly pattern though.


All things culinary.

Post 17

FG

I'll bet that sauce was extra tasty, though!

"Mmmmm, I detect oregano, basil, garlic, and plastic...Ragu, eat your heart out!" smiley - silly


All things culinary.

Post 18

Icarus

Sythetic materials are very important in foods today. Just ask Hostess.


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All things culinary.

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