Monday, January 04, 2010

Turning up the heat in culinary school

"I want you to make some kick-ass food today, and the next day, and the next day."

Chef Dan Fluharty (right) presented that challenge today in introducing the agenda for Culinary Foundations III as the new six-week term began at the California Culinary Academy. It's the third and final class in the basic French-techniques curriculum taught at the Academy.

It promises to be a doozy, up several levels from where we left off last month in completing the second class in the triumvirate.

Chef Dan set the tone in an inspiring yet daunting rundown of what we will face for the next six weeks. Here are excerpts of what he said:

"Every day's cooking in here will be a competency exam on which you will get graded. ... I'd like to think when you leave this school that you have a good idea of what makes you a good cook, of what makes you marketable as a cook. ... We want you to achieve the highest level of performance here and in your careers. ... "

"Tomorrow we'll make beef stew. Will it be just any beef stew? We might tend to think, 'Well, it's just beef stew.' But we want it to be the best beef stew you ever tasted. ... So it's time we kind of draw the line a little bit. Do you agree? That means if it's good, I'll say so; if it's outstanding, I'll say so; if it sucks, I'm going to say so. ... Don't take it personally."

Chef said he wants the 10 of us in his class to be a part of the continuing tradition that the Academy "puts out better high-end chefs than the CIA (Culinary Institute of America, the granddaddy of U.S. cooking schools) or anywhere else."

Quite a charge, quite a challenge. Let's get cooking.

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