Culinary School - Day One - Kitchen Ramblings and Other Things My Mother Taught Me...With a Twist Blog at - 236014

Kitchen Ramblings and Other Things My Mother Taught Me...With a Twist

Culinary School - Day One 
May 16, 2011 3:31 pm 
Updated: May 24, 2011 1:09 pm
First of all, let me say that I look SOOOO awesome in my school issued uniform...NOT. 

The skull cap (under which my hair does not fit) really clashes with the cravat and those checked pants do absolutely nothing for my girlish figure.  Ok Ok, a nearing middle aged girl, but a girl nonetheless.  But the worst thing about the uniform HAS to be the shoes!  My mother would have called them "sensible" when I was much younger, but there are only two words that can be used to describe them:


For a person who would likely be considered by some to be a "shoe snob", this is a very difficult transition.  Gone are the days of wearing those totally rocking peep toe leopard platforms with the four inch heels.  I am ushering in a new era where fashion is not a consideration when getting ready in the morning.  The good news is that I never have to figure out what I'm going to wear today and absolutely everyone at the school is wearing the exact same thing.  Taking any poetic license (or making any kind of stylish alteration) is strictly prohibited so everyone looks nearly as ridiculous as I do.  Except of course those who are young...and thin...and look good in anything.  Well, to be truthful, they don't look all that great in their uniforms either. 

Given that today was the first day of classes, we spent time getting to know our classmates and our chef instructor who will be guiding us thru the next 6 weeks.  We learned how to tie our cravats (its a single Windsor knot with the ends tucked in), got our syllabus and received our first few homework assignments.  Textbooks and Toolkits will be issued later in the week.  The first six week session, we will concentrate our studies on knife skills, mother sauces (BETHV - remind me later to explain) and soups.  We will be slicing, dicing and julienning our way thru the next six weeks and we've been warned that we may never want to see another potato again after this session is complete.  Apparently, most of the knife skills practice sessions are performed on potatoes. 

Because I chose to attend the early morning session, my classs size is pretty small (12).  Apparently, there were supposed to be 19 people in the class, but only 12 showed up for the frst day.  I'm not sure if they changed to a later in the day session or if last Friday's orientation scared them away or ???  I am hoping that the class size stays small because there will be more individualized attention in a small class.  Tomorrow, we also start Food Safety and Sanitation.  I feel like its jr high biology all over again. 

As for BETHV - the five Mother Sauces - Bechamel, Espangnole, Tomato, Hollandaise and Veloute.  There, I just saved each of you $135.71 on a day's worth of Culinary you didn't even have to don that super attractive uniform! 

On another topic, THE Vegas Shindig!  MauiGirl outdid herself hosting a number of the AR members at her home here in Las Vegas on Saturday.  The food totally rocked and she is one heck of a hostess.  She thought of absolutely everything and made everyone (including me as the newbie) feel totally welcomed.  I have not been an active member on "the buzz" so lots of the ladies were unknown to me but everyone was so nice and made me feel a part of the group.  Its amazing how food can bring so many people from such disparate backgounds together with a common interest.  Many of the group got together Sunday morning for the Buffet Brunch at the Bellagio which was also a very fun event. 

Under "normal" circumstances, I would avoid the buffet lines altogether due to my slight phobia about other people touching things and germs, but I decided to set all that aside for a few hours to enjoy time with some really great people.  Plus, I figured that I had been fortified by Candice's Oregon Hazelnut Shortbreads and Cute As A Button Sugar Cookies for dessert the night before so what could possibly go wrong?  I don't know if she has posted those recipes on AR or not, I will make sure to look them up and update this post if I find them.  I would post a photo of them for you, but somehow they were consumed immediately upon my arrival home on Saturday night and there was no time for photos before they disappeared. 

I had the "night off" from cooking last night, my partner in crime did NY Steaks and Asparagus on the grill (Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper) and I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE BITE.  No photos of that either...must have been too hungry to snap a few pics!   Perhaps I can manage a few photos tonight.  On the menu:  Chicken breast and ??? with a Tomato/Mozzerella Salad.  We've both been craving the Tom/Motz salad and I will figure something out with the chicken.  It'll probably be Picatta, but I will have to see how quickly the chicken thaws.  Its cool here in Vegas today. is cool...Like 70 degrees or something...I swear. 
May 16, 2011 3:52 pm
NO IT"S NOT is frigid brrrr. i was going to call you about your first day. I am happy it went well. We def have to get together soon. Since you are in my neighborhood, maybe we can catch lunch after class this week. I am so happy to have a new friend in Vegas!
Mary C 
May 16, 2011 8:06 pm
Good to see you're back at it, Jan! Thanks for the update! I've been busy painting my little tiny place - thanks for inspiration on that front, too. I'll post pictures soon -
May 16, 2011 11:02 pm
Jan, you are a riot!! I soo loved your personality!!! You are awesome. I'm soo glad to have met you and I was totally glad I was able to come. There was so much to do, and I had soo much fun. I'm totally thrilled beside the uniform issue that you had a great 1st day. And last night's show at Diva's was the bomb!!! Wished you had caught that with us. They were rocking the house and the clothes. It was a blast.
May 17, 2011 5:51 am
We will def do Divas Jan. Just tell me the night (dark fridays) I can get comps:)
May 17, 2011 7:05 am
It was so nice to meet you in Vegas. You fit right in with all the AR foodies - stepping up to the grill to boot! I am glad that your first day went well. As for those "sensible" shoes - there will come a day when you will be sooo thankful for them - really! Even if the uniform is funky it is nice to know what you are wearing - no decisions first thing in the morning. :) Happy - slicing and dicing!
May 17, 2011 8:59 am
Fingers crossed the class size stays small, and they all stay as involved as you!!
May 17, 2011 9:52 am
I SO LOVED meeting you CUAS. You have the most beautiful smile and great style! Especially your toenail polish. (Going green my next pedicure in your honor! Well, and also green is one of my fav colors. You rocked it!) I am so excited to follow your blogs through culinary school. I would love to know what Espangnole and Veloute sauces are... Oh, you will teach me so much. Your sweetie Chris IS A sweetie. We had a great time visiting with him. He's funny!Thank you for coming to the LV gathering and thank you for blogging. Your a GEM Jan!
May 17, 2011 10:39 am
Well, it's not as good as being there with you (which I wish I was) but hey - at least I don't have to wear the dorky outfit! I suck at Windsor knots. Keep on rockin' sister. See you soon.
May 17, 2011 12:50 pm
It was great meeting you in Vegas, Jan! I just know you're going to LOVE your culinary classes. I hope to be able to attend a culinary arts academy myself someday. Perhaps after my kids are grown and moved out :) Melissa is and Julie MUST go to Divas together. It was an amazing show!!! I enjoyed it so much I bought the DVD so I would be able to enjoy it again and again at home. Have fun at school! I'm totally looking forward to reading more blogs about your adventures there!
Pamela Williams 
May 17, 2011 1:46 pm
Jan, Great post, It was almost like being there. However I am still not able to truly visualize you in anything other that 4 inch pumps. This I will have to see for myself. Hope you are doing well and good luck over the next six weeks.
May 17, 2011 2:28 pm
OMG, you gals are all so supportive. What a FANTASTIC group! Thank you Julie, Ellen, Pamela, Keri, Candice, Elizabeth, Penny, Mary and Melissa. I will keep up the writing in the spirit of entertaining all of you. I will try to concentrate my stories from the culinary classes and stay away from any "Food Safety and Sanitation" comments. Let me just say that after I am done with that one, I may never eat out again. But right now, its homework time! Geez, its been a few years since I said that to myself.
May 17, 2011 4:30 pm
I cannot tell you how thrilled I was to meet you. I really enjoyed talking with you and getting to know you. You are a beautiful lady and a real hoot (Chris is pretty nice too). I am so looking forward to your blogs about culinary school. I am living vicariously through your schooling adventures! Please keep in touch and lots of support to you from me.
May 20, 2011 8:15 pm
Glad to her your first day went well, but sorry for the wardrobe "sameness". So lucky to have met you in Vegas. Everyone had a great time. Looking forward to hearing more about your new adventure. How exciting!
May 24, 2011 1:09 pm
Why am I not surprised that you're rubbin' elbows with all kinds of great people just a few weeks into this? I am surprised, however, that you haven't figured out a way to make the uniform your own. Maybe just stick to a leopard print bra so you can feel fancy underneath the get-up. Like Super Woman.
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About Me
I am a mid-life career changer who has enjoyed cooking (and eating) good food all her life. My Mom went to work when I was in the 5th grade and most days when I got home from school, she'd have left instructions for me to get dinner started. Cooking never felt like a "chore" back then and it certainly rarely feels like one now. During my 20 plus year career in IT, I traveled all over the US for work. And for fun, I traveled internationally. I have a fairly broad knowledge of food, but when cooking, I tend to stick to comfort foods and pretty much anything Italian. I have a big collection of Asian or eastern foods in my arsenal and I absolutely love their flavors. I am a professional chef who runs her own personal chef service.
My favorite things to cook
Comfort foods, soups, chilies, baked goods, candies at christmas, anything Italian, pizzas, homemade dressing for big salads when good veggies are at their peak, potstickers. Anything I can bake that's bad for you like doughnuts, coconut cakes with whipped cream frosting or fresh artisan breads slathered with butter. When I cook for clients, I am forced to move out of my comfort zone and I love trying new things. I especially love coming up with streamlined ways to make seemingly complicated food easy and accessible for everyone.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Mom's Potato Doughnuts - she's frying them as she was going into labor with my younger brother and then wasn't home to monitor how many I was eating over the next several days. I rarely stray from the Thanksgiving basics I grew up with. I do switch up the veggie dishes each year, but the basics remain pretty constant. My own tradition (not one I grew up with) is making Turkey Wild Rice soup from the leftovers. No better way to extend the taste of the holiday for me. Making Chili on a cold winter weekend, in honor of my Dad who made a batch nearly every weekend in winter as I was growing up. I don't use his recipe (too much Chili Powder and Dark Kidney Beans for my taste), but I do think of him when I make it.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering Gnocchi - so light and puffy, they are like clouds. A killer Vodka Sauce - never ever have I tasted one better. It took me a lot of tries to get it right. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes - from the book of the same name. Fresh bread...anytime. I always keep a few batches (Wheat, White, Semolina) in the fridge. Heat up the oven, shape the loaves, bake...yum. Homemade Caramels at Christmas time. I make both Vanilla and Chocolate Caramels and they are to die for. I give the Vanilla ones away as fast as possible, as I cannot stop myself from eating them.
My cooking tragedies
So many to list, such little space to write in.
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