I walked giddy through the heavy kitchen doors on the first day of Park City Culinary Institute. I was excited for something new, excited to learn, and most of all to cook – all day long and alongside seasoned chefs and eager students. And I was also excited about the meals we would get to have as a part of the deal too.
After week one of culinary school, the excitement definitely continues but I come out of week one more humble than I entered. I realize how comfortable I am in my little sphere as a mom, home cook, writer and photographer. But this week in the kitchen so much was new. I didn’t know where to find the tongs or whisk or how to turn on the massive stove burners that have no low, medium, high labels on them. All of this newness made me a bit intimidated. I found myself stumped with the simple task of making a salad for my classmates at lunch. I definitely felt out of my element. I’m sure as time goes by we we’ll all feel comfortable in our heavy duty professional kitchen cooking for each other and learning side by side but the first week intimidated me.
Even still, I loved every minute of it. I loved watching Chef Houman (who by the way warms up a kitchen even without any burners on) skin the impurities off massive pots of soup with a ladle. He showed us the old school way of checking to see if a chicken is done. I soaked in every detail of the history of cooking from the early chefs who were treated like royalty to the meals that helped sign peace treaties between two warring parties. Chefs of the past didn’t have it easy. Life expectancy was low with little-to-no ventilation in most kitchens and work was arduous and yet they got to be a part of bringing people together around a table just like we do in our class. I have a secure feeling that all of our hard work these next seven weeks will be as glorious as the meals we share together, and in the end we will all be better cooks because of it.
For those of you like me, who may be dying to learn more in the kitchen, here are a few things I learned during my first week:
Culinary School Tips
• Use a paring knife to remove the ends off the onions so that you won’t cry while you chop them.
• Never add salt when you’re making a stock because if you reduce it then it may become too salty
• Always start your stock with cold water
• When putting together a meal, think first of your protein’s natural environment, then pair the sides and vegetables accordingly
• Every time you open an oven you loose 175 degrees.
• Wine helps keep the structure of vegetables in stews and dishes that you are cooking for long periods of time
My experience thus far at Park City Culinary Institute has been well-rounded and quite holistic. This week we learned stocks and soups while also learning knife skills and kitchen safety. They teach the hows and whys alongside the techniques behind each subject. I feel so lucky to get to take a little break in normal life to expand my mind and skill in the kitchen. I hope that many of you take an opportunity like this to! Right now if you enroll in the summer session at Park City Culinary Institute by May 10 they are offering my out-of-state readers dinner for two at one of the restaurants below as well as two nights free at a hotel near the restaurant.
1) The French Laundry, Chef Thomas Keller, California
2) The Inn at Little Washington, Chef Patrick O’Connell, just over the border of Washington DC in Virginia
3) Restaurant Joel Robuchon, Las Vegas
Some restrictions apply. Contact Laurie@parkcityculinaryinstitute.com for more information.
Here are a few more photos from the week. (all photos are from my phone)
We worked with a lot of bones during week 1. Fish bones for fish stock and veal bones (below for veal stock).
We also made lobster stock. It was fun to watch the lobster change from grey to red as the cooked. Then we got to flabae them and who doesn’t like a little controlled fire every once in a while!
Though I’ve paid the extra few dollars for clarified butter from time to time I don’t know why I’ve never made it. Now, I know the simple secrets to making it at home.
Becky! What a wonderful opportunity. I’m so glad you are taking the time to do this. 🙂 Thanks for the tips. I had never heard about the no-crying onion trick.
How exciting and I love hearing about all you are learning!
What a wonderful experience, Becky! I haven’t been to culinary school, but I remember how out of place I felt the first days of my first restaurant job. Just like you said: where the heck are the tongs and how do I get this burner on! It’s so strange. But pushes us, so that’s good. Oh and so many bones. As a home cook, I just never really dealt with big/whole pieces of animal like that before. It was eye opening! Can’t wait to hear more! XO
All this sounds very interesting! I am also dreaming about some kind of class or school some day.
Anyuta, you should definitely consider Park City Culinary Institute if you’re thinking about culinary school! It’s only a 8 week commitment and you learn so much in such a short amount of time! Plus the teachers are fantastic.
I am so excited to read about your experience, Becky! I’ll be living vicariously through you for the next 8 weeks. Doing a program like this has always been on my must-do list and I’m really interested to read what you learn about.
Dara, I’m sure you would love it too! And it’s only 8 weeks long… AND if you sign up now there giving a weekend getaway in Park City to locals 😉
As others have said, I will be living vicariously through your posts. What a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to attend culinary school but with kids it’s hard to find the time. Thanks for sharing what you’re learning with us.
Emmy, I’m so glad to get to share my experience with others here! And please let me know if you ever have questions that I can give to the chefs who are teaching!
Does removing the ends off the onions really help with the tears? I definitely have to give that a try.
I’m a new believer! I haven’t been effected by the onions since trying this new way!
Oh, I’d love to see a post from you on how to make your own clarified butter!
Love this feedback Amanda! I will definitely do that just for you 😉
Becky I am so excited to be starting the evening program at Park City Culinary Institute this fall. Question- what shoes do you recommend using as part of the uniform? Any popular brands? Maybe you can contact me by email, I couldnt find your contact info. on your page…
Hi Julie, I got a pair of dansko clogs and enjoy them still for long hours of cooking. They’re a bit pricey but I think they’ll last forever and sometimes you can find them on sale online. That’s so exciting that you’re doing the program! Please let me know if you have any other questions! My email is beckyros at gmail.