So my friend C and I attended a “Knife Skills and Soup” class at the local college’s culinary centre the other night. This is the first of three cooking seminars I have registered for–and judging by how awesome it was, there will likely be more.
Best. Time. Ever.
You think I am joking, but I am not. The instructor was a former chef, restaurant owner and now works for the local legislative building as the chef in that building….lucky people.
Chef Justin taught us how to hold knives, how to chop oddly shaped things like a chef, how to chop mushrooms super fast. It was super impressive.
The group of 16 were then brought into the test kitchen and given a variety of things to chop: garlic, thyme, onion, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, celery, red pepper, parsley, broccoli and cauliflower.
Some fun tips Chef Justin gave us:
- keep those knives sharp, sharp, sharp. You want to slice your veggies, not tear them
- the stems of broccoli are actually better than broccoli itself–just give it a quick peel to get rid of the little nubbins and tough skin. Very tender and very, very tasty–yes, broccoli stems are flipping tasty!
- do not drag you knife across your cutting board–it is a recipe for a dull knife
- cutting onions is a dream, with this root holder way–perfectly shown in the you tube video below
- slice off the tiniest slice of round veggies like carrots or potatoes–provides a stable surface to cut from and saves your fingers
- anchor the tip of the knife to the board and rock the knife up and down
- smashing garlic is the best way to both peel and mince it. Oh and that green germ inside, you don’t HAVE to remove it–it doesn’t do anything except make your garlic a little green
- curl those fingers and use your middle knuckle as a barrier to the knife
- don’t rush
- soy sauce is an excellent source of flavour in soups of all kinds
- wine is good in everything, especially soups…and no more expensive doesn’t mean better
Doing all of this prep work also made me see the real benefit of doing this mise en place (prep everything before you start to cook). I always do it sorta halfway, but now I think I will have to adhere to doing it full throttle.
This experienced has also really inspired me to work on some soups. I want to try and re-create the mushroom soup that we made (sadly he didn’t give us the recipe like he promised), and I want to try a chicken noodle and veg, mulligatawny and a good black bean soup.
I have signed up for–one on pies and pastries and another on creating a “Halloween Feast.” Can’t wait! I think this is one of the best “education” experiences I have had since university–such fun!