Finishing Fundies

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Studying in Apple Pie Bakery with macarons and an Americano

There is such a defined culture here at The Culinary.  At this point I can’t imagine my life before attending the CIA. I have become so immersed in the culture here that even going home for a weekend feels strange.  I have grown so accustomed to the CIA microcosm that I catch myself saying behind when walking through the grocery store or responding to my parents with yes chef. 

It is so unique to attend a school where everyone fosters the same passion.  Making friends is easy. Whether you are sitting down for a meal with a close circle of friends or complete strangers there is always a fascinating conversation usually (but not always!) surrounding food.

Until I came to the CIA I never understood the broad range of interests within this field.  I am now even more uncertain about what I want to do within the culinary industry when I graduate…but I am okay with that for the time being.  The beauty of this school is exposure to so many different career options.  At times it feels like we only scratch the surface of a topic, however, it helps to narrow our interests and lead us to understand what we should explore more in depth. 

Last week I finished my first semester here at the CIA.  At times it felt like we would never graduate from “CIA Kindergarten”…otherwise known as Culinary Fundamentals or Fundies, but it truly went by in a blink. I have grown so close to my class these past few weeks. We began as a dysfunctional group of strangers to a family.  Although we still might be dysfunctional we are far from strangers. We understand each others strengths and weaknesses, we fight like brothers and sisters and we would do anything to help each other out.

Here are some photos from the last few weeks including the my final Product Knowledge and Culinary Fundamentals classes.

The newest macaron flavor: orange and gooseberry

The newest macaron flavor: orange and gooseberry

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One of the best perks about the CIA is having the opportunity to meet so many famous, influential chefs.  Not too long ago I had the chance to meet Daniel Boulud and have him sign one of his books.

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His newest book…Daniel: My French Cuisine

I was devastated that my product Knowledge class came to an end.  The last day was "Dairy Day" where we tasted 28 different cheeses.

I was devastated that my product Knowledge class came to an end. I looked forward to this class every week.  It is so important to be knowledgable about the ingredients you are working with and understand where they come from.  It gives you a greater appreciation for your food. The last day was “Dairy Day” where we tasted 28 different cheeses.

There were so many incredible cheeses to try!

There were so many incredible cheeses to try!

We had bread, nuts, seeds, and fruits to pair along with the different cheeses.

We had bread, nuts, seeds, and fruits to pair along with the different cheeses.

We tasted a selection from each category of cheese: fresh, soft-rind, semi-soft, hard, grating, and blue.

We tasted a selection from each category of cheeses: fresh, soft-rind, semi-soft, hard, grating, and blue.

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I was so excited to make fresh pasta again in my Fundamentals class!

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We learned how to break down and truss chickens recently.

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Ingredients for ratatouille, a French vegetable stew.

Roasted chicken with herbs

Roasted chicken with herbs

Braised beef with creamy polenta, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts.

Braised beef with creamy Parmesan polenta, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts.

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Chicken fricasse, duchess potatoes, onions, mushrooms and broccoli.  It tasted very similar to a chicken pot pie. I was not a fan of how we had to plate all of these components into one crock. I though it looked a little messy.

This dish is chicken fricasse (chicken stewed in volute), duchess potatoes, onions, mushrooms and broccoli. It tasted very similar to a chicken pot pie.  We had to plate all of the components in the same crock so it appears to be a hodge podge of ingredients. However, this day was heavily focused on technique.  In Fundamentals the end product and plating appears to be very basic and simple.  That is because the goal of the class is to grasp the concept of basic vegetable cookery, protein cookery and complementary sauce making. You might notice that every plate is a single portion with a protein, sauce, starch, green vegetable and non-green vegetable.  Eventually the plating will be more flexible and less cookie cutter and outdated. The plating and cooking is not complicated because the aim of this class is to give students a basic foundation to build on in future classes at the CIA and to even the skill level of all the students.

Mis en place for chicken fines herbs

Mis en place for chicken fines herbs with fresh pasta.

Sauteed chicken fines herbs (chives, chervil, parsley, and tarragon), sauteed root vegetables and snap peas on a bed of fresh pasta tossed with butter and Parmesan.

Sauteed chicken fines herbs (chives, chervil, parsley, and tarragon), sauteed root vegetables and snap peas on a bed of fresh pasta tossed with butter and Parmesan. This was probably my favorite dish to make and eat in Fundamentals.

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Mis en place for trout meuniere

Mis en place for trout meuniere

Trout meuniere is trout finished with a brown butter, parsley and lemon sauce

Trout meuniere is trout finished with a brown butter, parsley and lemon sauce.  We served it with tourned root vegetables, wild rice and asparagus.

Batter for spaetzle, a German dumpling

Batter for spaetzle, a German dumpling

Spaetzle fines herbs

Spaetzle with fines herbs mixture.  We prepared the spaetzle ahead of time and finished it during our service period by sauteing it in browned butter.

This was probably one of my least favorite dishes we had to make in class.  Pan-fried pork cutlets with sauce charcuterie, brasied collards, spaetzle and coleslaw

This was probably one of my least favorite dishes we had to make in class. Pan-fried pork cutlets with sauce charcuterie, brasied collards, spaetzle and coleslaw. I really enjoyed making and eating the spaetzle, however.

Our final week of fundamentals included: grilling, deep frying, and red meat cookery.

Our final week of fundamentals included: grilling, deep frying, and red meat cookery. These are my marinated vegetables for grill day: portabella mushroom cap, red onion, zucchini, summer squash and eggplant.

Grilled steak

Grilled steak

Steak frites: grilled steak with Bearnaise sauce, grilled vegetables and French fries

Steak frites: grilled steak with Bearnaise sauce, grilled vegetables and French fries

Mis en place tray for the cooking practical on the final day of Fundamentals

Mis en place tray for the cooking practical on the final day of Fundamentals

On the final day of class we made potatoes au gratin, beer battered onion rings, sauteed beef tenderloin with chausser sauce and broccoli rabe.

On the final day of class we made potatoes au gratin, beer battered onion rings, sauteed beef tenderloin with chausser sauce and broccoli rabe.

I was so sad that we only made three onion rings each...

I was so sad that we only made three onion rings each…

The last day our plates and service was graded differently.  It counted as a practical for the class so we were graded not only on the final product but our cooking process and sanitation.  We also did not have a demo before we started so we had to rely on former cooking methods we learned in the class and reading.

The last day our plates and service was graded differently. It counted as a practical (exam) for the class so we were graded not only on the final product but our cooking process and sanitation. We also did not have a demo before we started so we had to rely on former cooking methods we learned in the class and reading.

A picture of my class on the final day of Fundamentals with our chef.

A picture of my class on the final day of Fundamentals with our chef.

My fundamentals chef, Chef DiPerri

My fundamentals chef, Chef DiPerri

Today I had my first day of Meat ID and Fabrication.  I am excited to share with you what we cover within the first week so stay posted!