Blue Skies and a Kick Butt Risotto

I am over the moon, happy, elated, excited. My second level classes are amazing. My only regret in enrolling in culinary school is that I had to endure a boring first semester. While we were cooking during every class, we were never allowed to make stocks or break down chickens or fish or even try our hand at the 100-Escoffier ways to cook an egg. First level was definitely all about basics, and boy, I’m glad that's over.

Second-level classes can only be compared to the part in the Wizard of Oz when everything turns from black and white to super-duper technicolor. I have learned more about cooking science and techniques in the last two classes, than I did all last semester. I love it.

That being said, we still have a few know-it-alls in the class who make it their business to walk around the lab and give their unsolicited opinions on the creaminess of your bechamel, the color of your veloute and the size of your parmesan crisps. I’ve learned to grin, say, “Thanks, that’s a great tip!” It drives me crazy, nevertheless, but I’ve realized if I agree with them, they’ll pass by quickly and move on to the next victim, allowing me to get back to cooking much quicker than if I challenged them.

And then there is the dishroom issue. Cripe, no matter which culinary program you attend, please don’t soak your nasty, burnt, crusty pans in the sink that's been just-filled with squeaky-clean soapy water. Have some common sense and soak your pan off to the side. And rinse your pans before you wash them, please. Food in the dish water renders the dish water useless, and makes me cranky.

My groups are awesome this semester – we get along great, and complement each other well. And, everyone has been great in dealing with my food allergies, which can be a pain sometimes. I’m hoping it will be a skill they can take with them on the job when they have guests with food allergies dining in their restaurant.

We’ll be making chicken, it seems, for the rest of our lives this semester. But, I’m happy for the repetition – practice makes perfect. Between classes I’ve been practicing my knife skills with potatoes and carrots. I’ve just about mastered every cut, except the tourne – that one is killing me. If you have any tricks, please let me know! And now that I have the cuts almost perfected, I need to work on my speed – I’m accurate, but so slow.

The highlight this week was a kick-butt saffron risotto I made. Chef showed us a different technique that involved cooking the rice first and then drawing out the starches. I was skeptical, but it worked perfectly and didn’t require me to stand there holding its hand for 30+ minutes. The only downside is that I can’t get the smell of saffron out of my hair and skin, even after a hot shower.

Next week: more chicken!

Browse Culinary Arts Schools & Colleges

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More


    See More



    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Intensive Sommelier Training
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
            Show more [+]
            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid