Cooking for One (or hundreds)

The fun begins now that our class has made it past the midway point.

In level four at the French Culinary Institute's culinary arts programs, students are divided into three rotating groups: production, family meal and buffet. It's a good way to teach us about cooking in large quantities.

I recently completed the family meal rotation, where we've cooked everything from Swedish meatballs, chicken pot pie and bacon (!) creme brulee for students and chefs at school.I'm in production now where we've cut up fish, clean up lamb racks and make stocks for the school's restaurants and other classrooms.

But I think the most rewarding rotation will be the buffet. A group of students creates a menu and the chef helps guide you through the process. You get six days to prepare the meal and then show off your food to the chefs and upper-level students at school. (I've posted the Mediterranean group's buffet from last week above.)

My group decided to focus on a Latin theme. We're trying to develop a menu that's more creative than enchiladas or rice and beans. So far we've practiced making chorizo - a success thus far.

I don't know if the setting we work in mirrors a professional kitchen, but it's been a lot of fun. We learn new skills, get to employ some of our creative juices and build a sense of teamwork - all while cooking for the entire school.