Michael Ruhlman and Macroons

Caramel Apple Macaroon

Caramel Apple Macaroon

Michael Ruhlman

Michael Ruhlman gave a lecture at the CIA this past Wednesday….”It would be a better world if everyone could be a chef before being anything else.” -MR

Michael Ruhlman and macaroons….needless to say it’s been a pretty good week here at the CIA! This week I had the opportunity to meet my idol in the realm of food writing, Michael Ruhlman.  He came to the CIA this past Wednesday to give a lecture to students and sign copies of his newest book: The Book of Schmaltz.

He began with his unconventional story that lead him to eventually attend the CIA. He aspired to be a journalist and fiction writer, but he needed to find work.  Ruhlman was intrigued by The Culinary Institute and he wanted to reveal the journey of culinary students, so decided to find away to attend the school.  He had no intention of becoming a chef, however, he wanted to captivate the experience of culinary school and turn it into a book: The Making of a Chef.

Michael Ruhlman eventually embraced the idea of being a chef and has gone on to write a large collection of successful food books and cookbooks. Sign copy of The Making of a Chef...."Don't do what your passionate about do what your good at and follow that." - MR

Michael Ruhlman eventually embraced the idea of being a chef and has gone on to write a large collection of successful food books and cookbooks. Sign copy of The Making of a Chef….”Don’t do what your passionate about do what your good at and follow that.” – MR

"Everyone has the capacity for passion...they just  need to be inspired first." - MR

“Everyone has the capacity for passion…they just need to be inspired first.” – MR

Ruhlman also spent a good portion of his time answering CIA student’s questions and offering advice.  He told us not to follow our passions but rather to follow what we are good at.  He believes that if you work hard enough at something you are good at, the passion and money will eventually follow.

He also explained how our country’s perspective of chefs has changed drastically since his time at the CIA.  There has never been a higher demand for chefs or a more food obsessed country.  America is confused about the conflicting advertised diets, food trends and health messages.  Future chefs need to be able to effectively educate the public about their food choices.

Have to try them all...

My friend bought this beautiful box of macaroons…I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

This week we had a condensed week of classes, meaning we had two weeks worth of classes in one week. We have to make up all the classes that we would have had if we were not on break later this week.

We had an eventful week in Fundamentals with our first practical and new team assignments. This week we learned the concepts braising and glazing.

Colorful prep

Colorful prep this week for Fundamentals.  After our practical on Tuesday we were back to regular classes. On Wednesday we made chateau potatoes, duchess potatoes, braised red cabbage and glazed beets.

Glazed beets

Glazed beets

Red cabbage

Braised red cabbage

Duchess Potatoes

Duchess Potatoes – I was quite disappointed when I bit into one of these.  I thought it would taste like a mashed potato with a crispy outside.  The addition of egg yolks gives these potatoes a dry, dense texture.

This week in product knowledge we studied the different varieties of tubers and onions. We sampled multiple varieties of potatoes and onions. Even though potatoes are a common staple in our diets it is still important to taste them while learning about them.  It helps us understand their starch content and moisture, which helps determine the best method for cooking them.

Peruvian purple potatoes

Peruvian purple potatoes

Roasted fingerlings

Roasted fingerlings

Roasted pearl onions

Roasted pearl onions

Roasted red skin potatoes

Roasted red skin potatoes

Potatoes and onions in product knowledge

Potatoes and onions display for lecture

Shallots

Peeling shallots

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Even though product knowledge is a lecture style class, if you go early there is a lot of hands on prep and cooking. It is a fun way to be in the kitchen on our academic days. Not to mention students how come early to class get to sample the food and take extra samples and products home with them.

Peruvian purple potatoes

Peruvian purple potatoes

Tasting plate with roasted potatoes and garlic, roasted onions, sweet potato and Asian potato

Tasting plate with roasted potatoes and garlic, roasted onions, sweet potato and Asian sweet potato (yellow)

This week I had a healthy diet of macaroons and lots of Italian food….

Chocolate hazelnut and blueberry macaroons

The line everyday this week seemed to be conveniently short at Apple Pie.  My friends and I decided it was the perfect time to sample all of the macaroons…. these are chocolate hazelnut and blueberry lemon macaroons

Chicken fines herbs, fettuccine, green beens and carrots

Chicken fines herbs, fettuccine, green beens and carrots

Brown butter sage tortellini with Parmesan cheese and walnuts

The Italian unit is probably the most popular week for the Mediterranean kitchen during a block.  They have lots of fresh pasta dishes, antipasti, and Italian pizzas. This was a brown butter sage tortellini with Parmesan cheese and walnuts!

Blue cheese salad

Blue cheese salad and cream of mushroom soup

Wood-oven margarita pizza

Italian margarita pizza – my favorite meal this week!

Penne a la Norma

Penne a la Norma (eggplant, onions, tomatoes) with ricotta salata

This week we have two more days of classes until Thanksgiving break. Even though I am having a ton of fun here at school, I could not be more excited to cook, eat and spend time with my family for a few days!