Sunday, October 02, 2005

Hot for Teacher

As cooks move up the pecking order in the kitchen learning new skills, they quickly learn how to teach. The hole a cook leaves behind is immediatley filled with someone less experienced, and it is the ascending cooks job to train their successor. With the constant flux of cooks coming and going from kitchens, a chef can develop very efficient training methods. They learn to pass months worth of lessons to a new cook within a few days. The best of them posses the patients to let the students learn and make mistakes while holding rigid standards for them until they can carry said standards on their own.

Over the past 3 years I have been consciously developing my teaching skills along side my cheffing skills. (How'd I do David?) This winter I will be put to the test. I will be instructing not a single student in the professional skills they want and need to succeed in a job, but teaching a classroom full of amateur enthusiasts a few things to play with.

A cooking school behind the U-Village has invited me to be a guest teacher. I have two classes lined up so far. The first is later this month, and is titled "Tricks from a pro". Amy said, "Pro's, they work at golf courses, right?" I don't know that I have that many tricks up my sleeve, but I do have some insight and a few recent discoveries that I am excited to share.

The curriculum will include a tart dough that uses an old Austrian trick of hard boiling the yolks before adding them to the mix. This allows for more handling while rolling and shaping. The moisture in raw yolks reacts with the protiens in the flour and builds gluten chains while working the dough. Gluten chains may build a nice sturdy loaf of bread, but they make for a tough tart dough. This "trick" creates a melt in your mouth tenderness.

The second "trick" is a lemon curd with a variation on the texture. The curd is made by standard methods until the last step. The final step traditionally is mounting the hot curd with butter which melts in as it is stirred and leaves a translucent, thick, viscous dessert. With this method the hot curd is poured in a blender, and let to sit 5 minutes, or until the temperature drops below 140. Then the butter is added 4 pieces at a time as the blender spins. The butter doesn't separate or melt and the result is an incredible creamy opaque texture with more structure than a traditional curd.

The second class is scheduled for December. The curriculum is not set yet, but the theme is miniature desserts for your holiday party. A class about tiny cute things? I am so there.

The classes are held at Cooks World cooking school. The description of me is enough to make me blush. But this new challenge should prove exciting and a great learning experience for me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good luck teaching. This is really a perfect thing for you. You like cooking, you like teaching, and you like public speaking. I bet you'll really enjoy this. The class will be lucky to have you teaching, I think you have more secrets and tips than you realize.


October 03, 2005 8:21 AM  
Blogger The Bickford Sisters said...

Congratulations on the teaching job! You shouldn't being feeling modest about what they wrote about you, because it's all true! It does sort of make it sound like you were the chef of the Fat Duck though.

October 04, 2005 5:32 AM  
Anonymous Nicky said...

Hi Dana,
wow, that sound's great! I'd sign up for your class right away - if it wasn't that far away ;)
The dough with the hardboiled eggs is quite familiar to me. I prepared some Christmas cookies with it and kept wondering, why the same dough sometimes develops perfectly fine and (no significant changes in ingredients and their temperature) other times terribly crumbly...
And please write an update about your classes!

October 06, 2005 1:01 PM  
Anonymous david said...

i couldn't think of a better person to teach pastry.

just make sure you wear your dirty, smelly bandana and forget the toque; you can't come off being too serious and formal.

October 09, 2005 9:23 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Nicky...I wish you could be in my class too! You might be a little advanced, but I will post about the class with pictures after the fact. I will get back to you on the crumbly texture.

David... Last mention you made of the bandana was a request that I, "burn that ratty thing, for all of us". And I got a black jacket! It's totally hot.

October 09, 2005 8:01 PM  
Blogger megwoo said...

I just found your site... how fun! Are you at Eva? I LOOOOOVE Eva! Although, it's been far too long since my last visit. I guess I'm due for another soon.

October 12, 2005 10:04 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Megwoo...get on in to Eva! If you come on tuesday or thursday night come on back to the kitchen and say hi!

October 12, 2005 2:41 PM  
Blogger megwoo said...

Okay, will do!

BTW, I'm really enjoying your blog!

October 13, 2005 10:02 AM  

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