Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Culinary Experience 2014

New York Culinary Experience, a weekend of food and fun for foodies and groupies. Amazing chefs brought together to teach experienced and novice cooks alike in creating a one to three course meal, all within a very limited timeframe. Two hours are barely enough to go through a demo, ask questions, and cook an entire meal, let alone three courses. So you can imagine the chaos that goes on behind the scene as a volunteer. Patrons, no worries, you will enjoy it. 

Alain Sailhac, a culinary legend, began the day with lobster. His goal was to show everyone how to make a delicious meal out of asparagus and lobster without wasting any ingredients. He taught everyone how to put a lobster to sleep before boiling it, then break it apart and use the shell and juices to make a sauce. Next he taught everyone how to prepare and cook asparagus and make a sauce out of the trimmings for the asparagus as well. The meal was simple yet the choice of ingredients made for an amusing lesson since many patrons seem never to have cooked their own lobsters. It was fun seeing their expressions when they had to handle the spiky, spindly creatures. 
David Bouley had us quite nervous since he arrived a bit late for the scheduled set-up time. As the start time got nearer, we began to think of possible back up plans in case of a no-show. We were waiting for more instructions on what we needed to do to help set up. Thankfully, he arrived right on time with five minutes to spare. As a professional, he had everything ready and all we had to do was distribute each thing on to the stations. The only downfall was that there were multiple recipes going on simultaneously and we eventually got a bit confused on what was actually going on. However, we continued to assist the guests as best as we could. The class went over the time limit by almost an hour, but the guests were happy. Even though they didn't get to complete their flowerless chocolate cake, we collected what they had begun creating and completed the final product so they could take it home at the end of the day.

Every chef will have their own style and goal for the session. For David Burke, it was to demonstrate how you can create endless delicious dishes out of a Kenwood all in one mixer and induction cooker. Within the two hours, he guided the guests in making wontons, chicken risoto, and something that sort of resembled strawberry shortcakes (but I'm not sure what it was). As volunteers, we were instructed to scale out and prepare the ingredients for many more recipes. Unfortunately, they were never put into use because we ran out of time. However, everyone received a handout with all the recipes that we could have possibly covered if more time was available. At the end of the session, everyone seemed quite pleased with the machine, even with the multiple power outages it caused in the school. 
For me, I ended the whole experience with Shaun Hergatt, which I thought was the most organized. It made me understand why it is important to plan in advance and be as organized as possible. Also, keeping things simple is important. Firstly, he was already in the kitchen before we arrived and his staff was busy starting to get things ready. Once we arrived, we were assigned separate tasks where things started to slowly come together. When the guests arrived, all the stations were fully set up with all the equipment that was needed and they were all able to complete all three dishes. We did go a little over the 4:15 mark but I think in terms of timing, it wasn't too bad. Everyone was shocked at how simple yet delicious their dishes turned out. I could see that many will go home and try to do the same. 

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