30 September 2009

Calphalon Cooking Class -- Day 1.

Last night, I finished my four week fundamentals of cooking course at Calphalon. It was an absolutely amazing experience, and I highly recommend it if you live near a culinary centre (which are apparently only exist in Toronto and Chicago). It was an early birthday present, and worth every penny!!!

The class went through a series of cooking techniques, letting us cook several things in each class, trying out new methods (and new Calphalon cookware!). The ingredients were tops, the instructor Ian was fantastic, and the class participants were really ridiculously nice people.

Here's the instructors...Ian and Donna...

(This was at the end of a very hot and sweaty class! Tired, I am sure, but look how happy they were!!! Ian really had a great way of explaining things, and Donna was super great walking around and showing us how to do things correctly!)

When you show up for class, you are given a little "chef's creation" plate of food, and you sit at a work station and zen out. Here's my work station...

The first picture shows the set-up when we arrived. There's an apron, blue towel for clean-ups, and a tea towel to put on our apron strap to use for hot things, etc. The plate of food is that week's creation, which was a marinated eggplant and little salad. I forgot to take a picture, I was so nervous about the class!!! The second picture is the top of my binder and the burner. We had a series of bowls to use for mixing, trash bowls, etc. We each had two burners of our own, and our own pots, pans, and plates.

The way the class was set up really worked! Ian would talk about the thing we were about to prepare, and then we would bring a cafeteria tray up to the front of the room where our ingredients would be given to us to take back to our work stations. At that time, we'd drop off any used cutlery, knives, bowls, etc.

Our first task was fruit salad. We were learning knife skills.

There's our "fixings". Pineapple, melon, papaya, orange, kiwi, apple, honey, mint, and coconut. We started chopping and stuck it all in a bowl. We then served up as much as we wanted, stored the rest, and had our snack while the stir-fry was being set-up.

And there she is. Fruit salad. Ooh. Ahhh. In reality, it was a fun exercise. We had to section clementines!!! ACK!

From there we moved on to our shrimp and chicken stir-fry. It may sound crazy to you, but I have never made shrimp before!!! I was so nervous that I was going to ruin it! Here's our tray for that...

That's allota stuff! There was bok choy, chicken, shrimp, ginger, chili, soy sauce, chicken broth, veggies... and it was back to a chopping exercise. We used the wok, which was good, the Calphalon woks are really nice (but really expensive!). We marinated meat...

And then we chopped veg for what felt like hours...

And voila! Dinner!!!


And here's just a fun shot of Ian in action...

There are an army of pots and pans at the front of the room!

So this was the first class. We get little places at the front of the room where we can bring our dinner and eat while Ian and Donna straighten up the room. There's wine, beer and soft drinks available to order for a small fee (especially considering the very generous pours!), and everyone sat around and ate the fruits of our labours. I even ate some of the shrimp!!!

I was really excited about the next class... more to come...

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