Fish Treats

6 Mar

I came across these videos that may come in handy when tackling fish fabrication:

Remember that there is always more than one way to do things. The way I show you in class might not be right for you. These videos just offer alternatives.

Senator Joel Anderson Recognizes Culinary Achievement

28 Jan

In an industry where much of the work is behind the scenes, it is always an honor to be publicly recognized for a job well done. Students of the culinary arts class at Chaparral High School recently found out how gratifying that could be. California State Senator Joel Anderson presented the students with a certificate for their hard work in providing a very professional, visually appealing, and tasty assortment of holiday refreshments for his holiday open house that was held December 11, 2011 at the Ronald Reagan Community Center in El Cajon, CA.

A sample of the certificate:

The students worked for a whole week to produce a variety of holiday themed desserts that included creme puffs, Swiss Jelly Roll, hand-dipped chocolate truffles, and a Croquembouche that were no doubt enjoyed by all in attendance. The event also included treats from the culinary arts programs at El Cajon Vally High School and Granite Hills High School along with various other culinary programs in the community. You can find a link to the photo gallery below.

We are very honored by this recognition and we look forward to once again showcasing the skills and talents of our young culinarians. Well done students!

Senator Anderson’s Open House Gallery

Respect, Integrity, Commitment

5 Sep

It might seem strange that the first post on a culinary class blog is not about how to create the perfect stock or how to cook an egg.  In a lot of ways our values are much like a stock.  They are a foundation.

Stock = Foundation of a sauce:

Values = Foundation of our careers.

If we start with bad stock, we will have a bad sauce.  The more we try to cover it up, the worse it will taste.  Similarly, if we have poor values, we will lead poor, miserable, undesirable lives.  The more you try to cover up bad behavior, the more bad behavior you will engage in until your house of cards comes tumbling down on top of you.  I want to make sure that you understand that in your career as a Chef, Cook, Manager, Director, Dishwasher, Waiter/Waitress the most important thing that will help you climb the ladder and remain there is not necessarily your skill.  Having outstanding culinary skill will get you some of the jobs that you want and will garner some sort of acclaim.  There is no doubt about that, but it is not the things that you can do that will make you a great Chef…it is who you are.

All too often in today’s media we are reminded of the bad behavior of our top business leaders.  Entire fortunes disappearing because of dishonesty, or lack of integrity, or just plain greed.  As you are the next generation of business men and women, I want you to really contemplate your own values.  Decide how you want to be remembered.  As the man or woman that destroyed your employees livelihood, or the man or woman that was bold enough to stand up for what was right, not cut corners, and put 110% of yourself into your work and achieved your goal.  Please take a moment to consider the following core values of our class.  These values will always take precedence in class.

Respect Respect can take many forms and will elicit different definitions from every person you ask.  If you have respect for you tools, you will be able to have them for your use indefinitely.  If you have respect for your ingredients, your food will taste so much better.  If you have respect for your fellow classmates, your happiness factor will go up.  Everyone has their own story, their own experience, and their own special talents that can enhance our learning experience.  Debate and discussion are welcome tools in my classroom.  When we are able to challenge ideas, we are able to create new ideas, better ideas.  Please make sure that when you are in the classroom you are always respectful of the instructor, your classmates, your tools, and your ingredients.  It will create a less stressful environment for you and everyone else in the class.

Integrity Yale Law Professor Stephen L. Carter writes that integrity is: “discerning what is right and what is wrong; acting on what you have discerned, even at personal cost; and saying openly that you are acting on your understanding of right from wrong.” or simply put :Taking the harder right over the easier wrong. If you are willing to do what you know you are supposed to do, even when there is nobody around  to notice, you are developing a pattern of responsibility.  Responsibility is key if you want to move on to higher positions in the workforce.  If your supervisor knows that he can trust your work even when he/she is not around, you will be the “go to”employee.

Commitment You will make many commitments in your life.  Every person on earth does.  You will commit to a spouse, a child, a job, an activity.  You have already made an important commitment to finishing high school and this culinary arts class.  When we start something in this course, we finish it.  Whether you are going to receive a good grade or not, it is more important that you finish what you set out to accomplish.  If you establish this pattern of responsibility now, it will follow you throughout your life.  It will make you a better employee, manager, and member of your community.

If you adopt these core values and live by them in this course, you will see that your work will shine and you will earn respect, not only from the instructor, but from your fellow students as well.  If these stick with you, you will see that you will stand above the competition in the work place, and you will be able to achieve at the highest level.

Check out some links:

HR’s take on a values based workplace
How will we treat each other?
Entrepeneur Magazine’s take on Corporate Values

Welcome to ROP Culinary Arts!

5 Sep

For the upcoming 2011-12 school year, the Chaparral High School ROP Culinary Arts Program is excited to offer a course blog.  On this website, you will be able to access links to course material covered in class, delve deeper into the content delivered in the classroom, and discuss current trends.  While participation in the course blog is not mandatory, you will find that the resources available here will help guide you in the right direction on your exciting hospitality career path.

Online File Sharing Now Available

30 May

If you have lost your handouts from class, they are now going to be available through GoogleDocs. You don’t need a google account to view them. I started with our first day handouts which you can find here.

Pulled Sugar: A photo demonstration

28 Apr

Pulled Sugar Flowers and Ribbons

If it looks difficult, that’s probably because it is. This can certainly be the case for pulled sugar decorations especially if you have never seen it done. When I first got interested in pulled sugar decorations, I did a search on the web. I couldn’t find anything that was remotely helpful to my cause. The following is a step by step guide to get you started with pulling sugar.

***WARNING***Working with molten sugar is extremely dangerous. Please take all precautions necessary when attempting this. Have a bucket of ice water near by in case you get some on your skin, and wear at least two or three pairs of latex gloves, long sleeves, long pants, and an apron.

Mise en Place needed:

Heat Resistant Silicone mat (SILPAT)
Heat Lamp
Hair Dryer or Fan
Stainless steel or copper pot
Candy Thermometer
Powdered Food Coloring (not liquid or paste)
Latex Gloves
Alcohol Burner
Stainless Steel or Heat resistant spoon (not wood)

10 Parts Sugar
5 Parts Water
1 Part Glucose or Corn Syrup
Coloring (as needed)


Make sure that you have all of your tools ready to go before you begin. For most steps there is only a short window of time. If you have to leave your mise en place to get something, your window will be over and you may have to start all over again.

Mix together the water, sugar, and glucose in a stainless steel or copper pot. Attach the candy thermometer, and cook on high heat until the temperature reaches 310 degrees F.

Carry over cooking should take the sugar up to about 320 degrees F. If the sugar goes above this point it will begin to caramelize. This is not good if you want to color your sugar.

Sugar becomes more viscous as it approaches 300 degrees

Adding Powdered Color to Cooked Sugar

When the sugar stops bubbling, it is ok to add your coloring agent.

At this point, you will pour the sugar out onto your SILPAT. Be very careful not to spill any on yourself or your workstation. Always pour away from yourself.

Pouring Sugar

The next step is a little hard to explain. You have to make sure that the edges of the sugar do not solidify. In order to do this, you must actually move the sugar from the outside to the inside. It looks like this:

This stuff is HOT! If it gets too hot, you can always dunk your hands in the ice water, but be sure to change your gloves because the water will ruin the sugar.

When it has cooled enough for you to pick up, it is time to pull. Pull the ends, and give the sugar a little twist each time. It is important to incorporate plenty of air. Practice will teach you how much is enough and how much is too much. If you over pull the sugar it will lose its shine.

Now your sugar should be ready to go. This is where practice comes in. The only way to get better at sugar art is to practice.

You can pull it further to make ribbons. You can ball it up and pull petals for flowers. You can blow it like glass and make all kinds of shapes. It is really up to your creativity. Just remember to keep the sugar warm and only work with batches that are manageable.

Pulling Sugar Ribbons

Sugar Flowers

Finished work

Plated Desserts

30 Dec

In essence, a plated dessert is very simple: Main Dessert, Sauce, Garnish. The trick is to make it taste exquisite, and look irresistible. For chefs and pastry chefs, the plated dessert can be an opportunity to make the impossible appear right before your eyes. To the diner, it is an opportunity to indulge in something that they have never seen before but seems strangely familiar. For the restaurant owner, it is an opportunity to boost revenue.

Once you learn some very basic principles about pastry, it is possible to make an endless combination of plated desserts that will dazzle customers. Just keep these things in mind:

-The main dessert needs to be able to stand up as a dessert all by itself, even though you are going to add things to it.

-Unless you are working at Chuck E. Cheese or Disneyland, don’t make your dessert look like a cartoon. Your customers will be laughing at you instead of with you.

-The garnish needs to be edible and compliment the main dessert.

-Sauces should be colors that are easily found in nature. A bright blue or pink sauce will make your food look unappetizing.

-Basic geometric shapes are always a good bet.

-Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye than even numbers.

-Anything chocolate is always a hot seller.

Links to information about Plated Desserts:

StarChefs Dessert Trends
Pictures of Plated Desserts From Around the Web
Daniel NYC– You have to hunt a little bit for the dessert menu.

Videos that have good ideas for plated desserts:

Biological Contaminant Review Game

28 Oct

Studying can be fun! I made a game for you to review your biolgical contaminants for safety and sanitation.

Pictures from Sauce Week!

27 Oct

The Chaparral Culinary Arts class did a fantastic job during Sauce week. I made a short video showcasing some of the highlights.

Culinary Arts Gets a Nod from Harvard

24 Oct

Although the culinary arts field has been burning up our television screens and radio programs over the past decade, it has not found its way into the traditional university curriculum, that is, until now. Harvard University, that’s right…the Harvard, has begun a food science class to teach physics to students who would not normally be interested in taking a physics course. Not only are they using food science to explain complicated physics equations, they have the world’s top chefs teaching alongside the Harvard professors.

Harvard was also nice enough to offer a public lecture series on the course. Every week, you can watch top chefs give lectures on food science and haute cuisine. The videos are close to 2 hours long, but how often to do you get the opportunity to see inside the brain of a world class chef?

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