Guess what? I was invited to attend a special half-day training designed just for me at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley, California! For those of you who are into the culinary arts or who have read the post that I did a few weeks ago about The Culinary Institute of America (“CIA”), you will know just how COOL this is! The CIA is literally the world’s leading culinary institute. Students and professionals from all over the globe come to the CIA’s 4 campuses (New York, California, Texas, and Singapore) to learn all about the food industry, world cuisine, and food sustainability. You can read my previous post and also go to the CIA website to learn more.
Like I was saying, this is a REALLY BIG deal, and I have to admit that I was a little nervous and overwhelmed when I first got there.
Greystone is huge and a lot of people say it looks like Hogwarts. But the people are so friendly that I was able to relax and begin the adventure.
Before we got started, I grabbed a snack in their café, where they had these fun conversation-starter cards at the tables.
What a great idea, right?
My instructor, Sandy Sauter and the sous chef, Sam were AWESOME! Sandy taught me so much! She took me to visit the herb garden where the chefs get all of their fresh herbs.
I learned about some herbs that I had never used before like Mexican oregano and purple basil.
I also learned about sorrel, which is like a combination of citrus and vinegar.
I got a cutting lesson as well – you can never have too many of those! In cooking, learning to cut foods is so important that the students at the CIA spend 17 weeks just learning how to do cuts properly.
And the instructors don’t just watch how the students cut - they also look at the individual pieces that have been cut, to make sure that the students are getting things right.
Before I came to the training, the CIA asked me what I would like to learn to cook. One of the foods that I haven’t cooked very much, but really enjoy eating is fish. My favorite fish is salmon, so I chose that as the dish that I would learn to cook.
The recipe that Chef Sandy chose for me was a Provençal Herb Crusted Salmon with Grain Mustard Sauce, and Yellow and Green Squash Noodles.
I know… it sounds and looks totally delicious…and it really is!
I learned and helped with everything from the deboning (I need to practice a lot to be as fast at this as Chef Sandy is) and skinning; to the seasoning and plating. And for dessert, they made an amazing Rustic Peach Galette!
Working alongside the other student chefs and learning from Chef Sandy and Chef Sam made me really appreciate all of the hard work that goes into learning to be an excellent chef. Even when I’m a lot older, it seems there will always be new things to learn about cooking.
My visit to the CIA has made me think about how to be a better cook and a better host. Thank you CIA for a GREAT experience! I look forward to visiting you again!