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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Quick Pan-Cleaning Trick


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Jenny Bierman, Culinary Producer, Food Network Kitchens
School: Institute of Culinary Education, 2009

Confession: Scraping pans with burned food was such a pain — until I realized if I just added water to the bottom of the pan while it was still hot on the stove, I could then use a spatula or a paper towel and tongs to clean it immediately. It makes cleaning quick and easy, and it is just like deglazing your pan for a sauce!

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET.

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Relying On Your Senses


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Rick Martinez
School: French Culinary Institute, 2011

Confession: A big moment for me was learning to cook with all my senses. Becoming hyper-aware of what is happening in the pan or in the oven — relying on sight, smell, touch, taste and sound rather than a suggested cooking time or temperature — was a big step in my cooking journey. Recognizing these sensory cues allowed me to understand what was happening to the food as it cooked and enabled me to take action based on my instincts.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET.

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: How to Get the Crispiest Skin


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Jenny Bierman, Culinary Producer, Food Network Kitchens
School: Institute of Culinary Education, 2009

Confession: I love crispy skin on anything. The three things I learned for perfect crisp skin: Dry the skin, salt it well and place it skin-side down in a wicked-hot pan. For chicken, I put a cast-iron skillet on top of it so the all skin is pressed into the pan, making it crisp up fast! For fish, I take the skin off and crisp it up separately over high heat after the fish is cooked and removed. This way the fish doesn’t overcook and the skin gets almost a cracker-like consistency.

(**Psst: Want the above fried chicken recipe? It’s Chuck’s. Get it here.)

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET.

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Confidence Trumps Skill


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Rupa Bhattacharya, Food and Beverage Editor
School: French Culinary Institute, 2004

Confession: Never apologize for your food. I learned very quickly that no one but the chef ever notices any but the most egregious errors. So when everyone’s enjoying the dinner you made, there’s no need to list out the various ways you think you messed up, or how the dish could have been better. When someone compliments your cooking, all you have to say is “thank you.”

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Efficiency in the Kitchen


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Rick Martinez, Culinary New Business Intern
School: French Culinary Institute, 2011

Confession: Working the line in a kitchen requires a physical dexterity and speed that I neither understood nor possessed when I started. After about 6 months of getting yelled at by my chef, I finally got it. I learned what it means to be efficient in thought and efficient in action by budgeting my day to the minute, knowing times to the second for every action. I always planned 5 actions/steps/tasks ahead, organized my station to minimize movement (thus speeding up prep and plating times) and timed myself daily to see how I had improved over the day before, aiming to shave 60 seconds off of every day so that I would gain an extra 5 minutes of prep time by the end of the week.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Breading for the Perfect Fried Crust


Curious about cooking? High-pressure culinary school requires a lot of time and money. We asked present and former culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Jenny Bierman, Culinary Producer, Food Network Kitchens
School: Institute of Culinary Education, 2009

Confession: When I started breading things for frying, I always wound up with a weird pasty mush all over everything because my wet and dry ingredients were mixing with each other, resulting in a terrible fried crust. When I learned to keep one hand for the wet ingredients and one hand for the dry ingredients, I was introduced to a whole new world of breading. No more goopy, floury egg everywhere —just a crispy nice crust and clean(er) hands.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Embracing Salt


Culinary school requires a lot of time, money and pressure, so we asked culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student:Tim Guy
School:
Culinary Institute of America

Confession: My culinary epiphany came to me on the third or fourth day of my fundamentals class and provided the answer as to why a home-cooked meal is often lacking the depth of flavor present in professionally prepared food: namely, the lack of salt. Something so simple and obvious is key to producing world-class cuisine. Salt is not the enemy — it’s our briny best friend.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Nonstick Pans


Culinary school requires a lot of time, money and pressure, so we asked culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Larisa Alvarez
School: French Culinary Institute, January 2012

Confession: I think that we live in a very nonstick-pan-driven society, and the household that I grew up in was no exception. I’ve seen proteins, vegetables, sauces and soups cooked in nonstick pans for as long as I can remember. For a long time, I wondered: Why would anyone use anything else? During my nine months at FCI, we used nonstick pans on two occasions: omelet day and crepe day. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for nonsticks, but in most professional kitchens, they are the exception rather than the rule. My “aha moment” was more of an “aha yearlong process,” but I finally learned that I don’t need a nonstick; a hot pan and a small amount of fat will keep the majority of my food from sticking. The transition was rough at first, and I still cringe when placing a piece of flaky fish in a normal pan, but the benefits are worth it. I can get a great sear, stick my pans in the oven when necessary, and I am not confined to wooden tools or a certain temperature level. Because, let’s be honest: What is cooking if you’re never allowed to turn the flame all the way up?

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Confessions of a Culinary Student: Tempering Chocolate


Culinary school requires a lot of time, money and pressure, so we asked culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Sarah Balke
School: Culinary Institute of America, Associates in Baking and Pastry Arts, Nov. 9, 2012

Confession: The moment when tempering chocolate suddenly made sense to me was like a curtain being lifted. In order for melted chocolate to set without streaks and to have a creamy texture, you have to bring its temperature up and down while stirring, which rearranges its crystalline structure. This technique is called tempering and can be difficult to master. To truly make a beautiful temper, I had to learn the science behind it; understanding exactly what I was doing to the chocolate and why gave me the clarity to make a high-quality product. Before I actually studied the science of chocolate, it was my least-favorite medium to work with, but since chocolates class, it’s now one of my favorites. It was a moment that reaffirmed my desire to go to culinary school: to learn the why, and the science, behind food.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

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Bonus: Get Alton Brown’s secrets for tempering chocolate in your microwave.

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20,000 Hot Reasons to Consider a Culinary Career

Cooking channel recipes Clayton Chapman

Clayton Chapman in his kitchen. (Photo: esotericvelvet.com)

At his restaurant The Grey Plume in Omaha, Nebraska, Clayton Chapman is living his dream. Chapman graduated in 2006 from The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago with an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and is garnering national attention for his inspired food.  He recently picked up a Trailblazing Chefs Award from Cooking Light along with Grant Achatz and Marcus Samuelsson.  Oh – and he’s 25.

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