In the planning stage is a one-week basic professional cooking course, sponsored by the RCA and the Culinary Institute of America, titled “Culinary Workshop for Food Technologists,” to be held at the CIA's Hyde Park, N.Y. campus. Details soon will be announced on the RCA website: www.researchchef.org.
You may be thinking: “That's great for research chefs, but you haven't mentioned culinary arts training for food technicians!” However, the food scientist or technician can pursue a culinary arts education in several ways.
Culinary Arts ResourcesMany programs are now being offered at local culinary arts schools, including both short courses and full-term classes. Shaw Guides annually publishes a Guide to Cooking Schools, which lists most of these schools.
A good basic culinary textbook is: On Cooking by Labensky and Hause (Prentice Hall). As a culinary arts instructor, I have used Professional Cooking by Wayne Gisslen (John Wiley) very successfully with new students. A more advanced text is The New Professional Chef, The Culinary Institute of America (Von Nostrand-Rheinhold).
What follows is a basic outline of courses taught in culinary arts courses:
- Culinary arts in modern foodservice.
- Culinary terms.
- Utensils, modern kitchen equipment, knives, and techniques of their usage.
- Basic cooking principles (dry and moist cooking and alternative methods).
- Five basic (“leading”) sauces, secondary sauces (“small”), manufacture of stocks, soups.
- Seasoning and chef's flavoring.
- Classes in meat, poultry and seafood butchering and preparation.
- Ethnic cuisine, essential baking, starch and potato cookery, and vegetable cooking.
- Salads and “garde manger,” breakfast service, sandwich making.
- Recipes and menu design.
On-Site Culinary TrainingAn alternative method of culinary arts training, “portable learning classes” are being taught on-site at factories and offices of food manufacturers by chef educators. They follow culinary arts class guidelines but offer an extra advantage: customization. As an example, “Converting Recipes into Formulas” is a more apropos class for food manufacturers than a menu design class would be. Also, “Presenting Products at Food Shows” is of better value than “Garnishing.” More economical than sending an entire group to a school, on-site classes feature hands-on and workshop teaching. One of the portable education groups is “Chef-On-The-Side,” whose website is:www.chefontheside.com. Their phone number is 877-875-2449.
Certification is the other RCA strategic goal. The first certification classification, Certified Research Chef, has qualified 12 members since 1999. A second certification level—Certified Culinary Scientist—will be announced at the annual RCA conference in New Orleans in March 2002. Certified Culinary Scientist criteria will include culinary arts education as well as work experience.
The RCA will “Define the future of food™.” To ensure your future is in food, pursue your goals through education and certification!
Tutoring Culinary TerminologyA la Carte:Foods prepared to order; each dish priced separately.
A la King:Foods served in a white cream sauce that contains mushrooms, green peppers and, often, pimentos.
Al Dente:A slight firmness remaining in foods after cooking.
Aspic:Clear meat or poultry jelly.
Au Gratin:Food covered with a sauce, sprinkled with crumbs and baked.
Au Jus:Served with natural juices or gravy.
Bain Marie:Double boiler or steam table.
Bake:Cooking technique that uses dry heat.
Barbecue:To cook food, especially meat, with direct heat over coals or in a broiler.
Base or Concentrate:Food product used to flavor food or to make soups and gravies.
Baste:To moisten food with stock, drippings, or fat while cooking.
Beat:To mix vigorously.
Béchamel:A white sauce made of milk thickened with a light roux and flavored with onion. This is one of the grand sauces.
Bisque:Thick soup, usually shellfish.
Blanch:To partially cook food by immersing in boiling water.
Blend:To mix thoroughly two or more ingredients. A creaming paddle, wire whip or pastry cutter may be used on a mechanical mixer.
Boil:A cooking technique that uses moist heat. Food products are cooked in boiling liquid until done.
Bouquet Garni:Aromatics tied together in a small bundle consisting of: parsley stems, thyme, bay leaves, and, sometimes, other fresh herbs.
Braise:A cooking technique that uses dry and moist heat. Primarily used for tougher cuts of meat that require cooking until connective tissue breaks down and becomes tender.
Brochette:Meat broiled and served on a skewer.
Broil:A cooking technique that uses dry heat and high temperatures. Broiling is used for tender single-size cuts of meat, fish or poultry.
Broth:A clear, thin soup, generally made of meat or fish stock.
Brunoise:Vegetables cut into very small dice (1/8” x 1/8” x 1/8”) and used to garnish soups and sauces.
Chef:A person skilled in food preparation who has charge of the kitchen in a large establishment; duties include planning menus, ordering foodstuffs, directing cooks and preparing special dishes.
Chop (with a knife):To cut into medium to small pieces.
Clarify:To make clear. Soup is clarified by the addition of egg whites, ground meat and vegetables. Butter is clarified by melting and removing the milk solids - what is left is the butter fat.
Cream (the verb):To blend two or more ingredients—such as butter and sugar—until smooth.
Croquette:A food product or combination of food products, usually breaded or deep fried.
Dash:A small quantity, less than one-eighth of a teaspoonful.
Deep-fry:To cook thin, tender food products completely submerged in fat.
Deglaze:To moisten with wine or stock to dissolve food particles and/or caramelized drippings left in a pan after roasting or sautéeing.
Degrease:To remove grease (i.e., removing the fat from the top of a sauce).
Dice:To cut into cubes around 1/2” to 1/4” in size.
Dredge:To coat in flour or crumbs (dry ingredients).
Garde Manger:Cold meat department or person in charge of it.
Garnish:An edible decoration or accompaniment to a dish.
Glace:A stock concentrated into a syrupy consistency, used for adding flavor to sauces and other dishes.
Glaze:To brush an item with butter or a reduced sauce to give a shine.
Grill:A cooking technique in which foods are cooked by a radiant heat source placed below the food.
“Hotel” Pan:A common kitchen term for a 12” x 20” stainless steel counter pan, normally 2” or 4” deep.
Jardiniere:A mixture of vegetables.
Julienne:Vegetables cut in strips of 1/8” x 1/8” x 1” x2”. Sometimes it is cut 1/16” x 1/16” x 1” x 2”.
Marinate:To steep meat, fish or poultry in a flavored liquid (wine, water, spices, herbs and vegetables) to add flavor, tenderize or preserve.
Mince:To cut in very small pieces.
Mirepoix:Mixture of onions, carrots and celery.
Mise en Place (“Put in Place”):The preparation and assembly of ingredients, pans, utensils and plates or serving pieces needed for a particular dish or service period.
Mousse:Frozen dessert of whipped cream, flavoring and sweetening. May also be hot or cold buffet food.
Pan fry:Too cook small, thin pieces of meat, fish, poultry or vegetables in a shallow fat (the product may also be breaded).
Pare:To cut off outside covering (like an apple peel).
Poach:A cooking technique that uses moist heat. Tender items are cooked gently in a simmering liquid. The liquid from the poached item sometimes may be used to make an accompanying sauce.
Pureé:Food that is processed in a blender or food processor or put through a foodmill to make a smooth paste.
Ramekins:Food baked in shallow baking china or shallow baking dish itself.
Reduce:To boil down or concentrate.
Refresh:To place cooked food in cold water after blanching.
Rest:To allow food to rest after roasting and before carving; this allows the juices to seep back into the meat fibers.
Roast:A cooking technique that uses dry heat. Tender, multi-portion cuts of meat are most often roasted (i.e., roast top round of beef).
Roux:A thickening agent made from flour and butter.
Sauce:A liquid accompaniment of food.
Sauteé:To cook quickly in a small amount of fat.
Searing:Browning the surface by intense heat.
Simmer:A moist heat cooking technique. Cooking foods in a gently simmering liquid.
Skim:To remove particles of impurity from the surface of a liquid.
Stock:The liquid in which meat, poultry, fish or vegetables have been cooked.
Strain:To pass a liquid through a sieve or screen to remove particles.
Velouté Sauce:A sauce of white stock thickened with white roux; one of the grand sauces.
Whipping:Rapid beating to increase volume by mixing air in.
Sidebar: Succulent SaucesThe French are credited with setting the standard for fine food. They also determined the five great sauces of the classic kitchen. The bases are prepared according to exacting standards and can be changed to suit different dishes simply by adding ingredients such as wine, spices, vegetables and garnishes. Today, finding authentic versions of the base sauces is difficult because many cooks do not know how to make them correctly from scratch.
The classic, or “mother” sauces are:
Brown sauce, also known as Espagnole sauce, is based on simmering bones and vegetables in pure, clean water. Typically, brown rue is added.
White or Béchamel sauce, which consists of a light rue with milk or cream added.
Red or tomato sauce, based on tomatoes, is best-known in the form of marinara, tomato coulis and ketchup.
Yellow or emulsion-based sauces have eggs and oil as their basic ingredients and include hollandaise, bearnaise and mayonnaise.
Velouté sauce is basically clear, but its color depends on the type of stock used (chicken, beef, game, fish or vegetable). The stock is combined with a pale rue.
Other sauces that have gained popularity over time include sweet and sour, ethnic sauces and barbecue sauces.
Chefs employed in food formulating kitchens are able to help R&D labs present authentically tasting sauces and, as a result, better-quality products. “In the RCA, we call it culinology—where chef and technology work together,” explains Chef Ed Harazak, executive chef for IFS, a custom flavor subsidiary of Best Foods, Germantown, Wis., and a member of the RCA.
Making well-balanced, stronger flavors helps food product formulators in today's market, where simple foods—such as comfort foods—are getting a new image. “Potatoes aren't basic anymore—simply having them mashed with butter is not exciting enough. Now, consumers are looking for foods with flavors that 'pop,' and products such as garlic mashed potatoes and black pepper mashed potatoes are becoming popular. Even basic ingredients, such as mushrooms, are changing. Today's consumers aren't happy with a button mushroom. They want excitement in the form of chanterelle or morel mushrooms.”
Formulators who rise to the occasion must offer consumers foods that are familiar, but satisfy their cravings for novelty by adding an unexpected twist.
— Julia M. Gallo-Torres, Senior Editor