CIA FOODIES: Plant-Powered Cooking Boot Camp
the salovelist recently had the amazing opportunity of taking a class at the Culinary Institute of America’s campus at the Historic Pearl. During this gifted experience, we got to learn that CIA offers classes to the public for the at-home chef in all of us so you can wow all your friends. Classes range from 1-5 days similar to this boot camp we took part in. If you’d like more information on the CIA Foodie’s program at the CIA, check out their website to learn about what classes they’re offering and how to sign up. While this experience was gifted to us- the opinions are our own.
Day One: The Burnt Peanuts.
Coming to the classes at the Culinary Institute, I was VERY nervous. I had no idea what to expect, how hard are the recipes going to be? Am I going to be with a bunch of chefs? “what if it’s like those shows I watched back in the day?” If you believe that too, let me make things short, it’s NOTHING like that. Chef Ward was so open and easy to ask questions too. Even if we messed up, like I did, TWICE on the first day. He always had a backup on how we could fix it. I messed up by miss reading a recipe and accidentally BURNT the peanuts. How does one burn peanuts? I have no idea either, BUT I didn’t the second time, and the Thai salad came out GREAT!
Day Two: Being More Resourceful in the Kitchen
By the second day, I was looking forward to getting into the kitchen. The night before- I even read the recipes our team would be working on to make sure I didn’t pull another burnt peanut situation.
We always would have demos in the middle of class to talk about different techniques in the kitchen. Chef Ward makes sure everyone understood that it’s not about the recipe; it’s about methods you use to create the recipe. In the class that day, we talked about how to make better cuts that use more products. Have you ever found yourself throwing away a lot of waste that could be used for another recipe? Now I feel bad for all the waste I would throw away because I didn’t know how to make use out of it.
Day Three: Chicken, Chicken, Chicken!
On the third day, we learned how to butcher a whole chicken. Yes, I know this is a plant-forward class, but Chef Ward saw interest in this skill for our class. It also put what part of the chicken goes where and how much product goes off just one chicken. I’d bought a full chicken and cut it up into a breast, wing, and thighs. This was such a useful skill because now I can save money by buying a full chicken cutting it up myself and dividing the parts of the chicken for my use. In this class, Chef Ward talked a lot about how doing the cooking and breaking down your stuff saves money, and you know exactly what goes in and what goes out.
Day Four: Impossible Burger
Something I never thought would be possible, is possible and it’s a plant-based burger. There is an actual burger that bleeds like a typical burger; it’s the craziest thing. I still ask myself what is bleeding even though it’s made of plants? The purpose of this demo was so that Chef Ward could show how you can still get your meat fix without the excess red meat. I will definitely be trying this out next time I have a burger BBQ and see if anybody can tell the difference.
Day Five: Graduation Day
It is the last day of my Plant Forward class and I am sad for it to end because I had worked with some amazing people and made some really great friends along the way. For today Chef Ward showed us how to make scallops. Which I never had till the night before at Savor Cafe where we had a group dinner (which were amazing btw). He even taught us how to make a SAUSE for the scallops. I was super impressed and now all I want to eat are scallops. We also did a demo on more plant-based burgers that were made out of beans. I mean who doesn’t love a good burger. As for recipes that I worked on that day I worked on lamb meatballs, It was a kinda confusing recipe but with the help of some other team members, we were able to get it going. For this recipe, it was not only just meatballs lentils were in them too as well as spinach. It was packed with nutrients and you wouldn't even be able to tell. My brother who hated veggies even liked them.
Overall with this experience, it has been so educational. These classes don’t just give you recipes and then you’re off into the kitchen. The chefs want you to learn techniques to be able to yield more product and not be so wasteful. They also teach you techniques when approaching recipes and how to make changes as needed. Another useful tip I got was the recipes aren’t the end all be all. You are able to make changes and tweak it as need be. I was always afraid to do that. The Culinary Institute of America is so much and for all you foodies it would be a perfect gift for the upcoming holiday season. I also captured this entire week on my Youtube channel if you’re interested in the vlog of this entire week.