Day 2 - CIA Culinary Boot Camp

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Day 2 - CIA Culinary Boot Camp

A Day Filled with Sauteing, Stir Frying and Pasta!

Hi folks, well another day has come and gone on my Culinary Boot Camp adventure here at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. It was another beautiful day here is Napa with sunshine and warm temps which meant a very warm kitchen!

Starting the Day with Food and Wine!

We started off the day by meeting at the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant for lunch. The restaurant was beautiful with copper accents everywhere. We ate inside but I would recommend dinning outside on the patio overlooking the vineyards and the mountains instead becuase the patio view was spectacular.

We started with the Greystone Garden Salad which is prepared with vegetables grown in the student gardens on campus. I’m not a fan of goat cheese so I didn’t love the dressing but the vegetables were super fresh and delicious. My favorite where the pea sprouts. The salad also has popped quiona tossed in which I had never had before. I liked it quite a bit and I think I will be giving that a try at home. Next for our entree we had a few choices and I went with Grilled 5-Dot Ranch Skirt Steak Sandwich. It was severed in a warm flat bread with arugula, smoked cheese curd and chimichurri. I love flatbread sandwiches and this ranked well in my book. Dessert was my favorite part of the meal. We were severed Slow Baked Chocolate Mousse with blackberry ganache, mint leaf ice cream and brownie bits. This ways super good just thinking about it tonight I kinda wish I had more of that stashed away for a “midnight” snack.

CIA Bootcamp Lunch

The interior of the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant and the differnt courses

Lecture Time

After lunch we changed into our chef uniforms and headed up to the classroom for our lecture. Today’s focus was Saute and Stir Fry, Green Vegetable and Pasta Cookery. Although most of the information wasn't nesseraily new to me I did learn quite a few tidbits and also some more of those fancy french words (which I’m still working on pronoucing).

In the Kitchen for Demos

Once the lecture was over we moved into the teaching kitchen and Chef did a demo on the different cuts we would need to do for the day. He also demoed how to cut up a chicken into the different parts that you can buy in the grocery store. His comment was now that you know how to cut up a chicken you’ll never buy anything but whole chickens again. We’ll see if that comment stays true for me…

CIA Bootcamp Chef Demos

Chef Demoing cutting up zucchini in a batonnet, cutting up a chicken and then a fresh pasta demo


Cuts we learned today:

  • Batonnet - 1/4 1/4 x 2"
  • Chiffonade 
  • How to cut up a whole chicken


After the demos we were released to practice our cuts for the day. We needed to julienne a onion for use in our onion soup we made later in the day. We also minced up some garlic, and practiced the brunoise on shallots. Then we did zucchini in the battonet and carrots in julienne. My onions, garlic and shallots passed with flying colors. My zucchini and carrots not so much I had cut them too long.

CIA Bootcamp Knife Cuts Practice

My knife cuts I'm getting better!

Production Time

After all the chopping it was time to move into production. Which means more chopping ha! Part of Mise en Place means having everything prepared and ready before you start cooking so that means gathering and prepping all your ingredients. Today my team was responsible for Chicken Breast Provencal, Spinach Spatzle with Parmesan Cheese, Sauteed Zucchini and Onion Soup Gratinee.

I was in charge of prepping the Sauteed Zucchini and Onion Soup Gratinee. Which meant I spent half an hour or so walking around this huge kitchen to find everything I needed. We used some of the Brown Veal Stock we had made the day before in the I Onion Soup. I also helped cut up one of the chickens which was really fun as I had never done this before. I don’t have any pictures well because taking out my phone with hands full of raw chicken is no bueno but I did pretty good for a first try. I was really amazed at how easy it was to cut thru the joints. 

CIA Bootcamp Prepping for Cooking

Here's our station in process of getting everything together before we start cooking

Another first I did today was make tomato concasse. Tomato concasse is tomatoes that been peeled, seeded and diced. Peeling the tomatoes was super easy. I got some water boiling and an ice bath made up. Then for the tomatoes I removed the stem with the tip of my knife and scored an “X” into the bottom. Once the water was boiling I dropped them in and waited for the skin to curl or burst open along where I made the “X”. Once that happened I immediately put them in the ice bath to stop the cooking process. The skin peeled right off. I was surprised by how firm the tomatoes still where after this. After peeling I chopped them in half squeezed out the seeds and proceeded to dice them up. Wallah I had made tomato concasse! This was used in the Chicken Breast Provencal which also used the Chicken Velote we had made yesterday. It was fun to see how what we did yesterday flowed into the recipes we prepared today.

After we had gotten all the recipes prepped it was time to execute. I was in charge of cooking the Spinach Spatzle with Parmesan Cheese which is a German pasta I learned. Now I have made fresh pasta before but never anything like this! The making of the actual dough was a similar process to other fresh pasta however how it was cooked was quite different.

CIA Bootcamp Spinach Spatzle Dough

The Spinach Spatzle with Parmesan Cheese dough all mixed up!

To cook up these babies I set up a hotel pan (a large deep rectangular pan) with water in it and then atop that a steamer pan. I then set the whole thing atop the stove burners bringing the water to a boil. Once the water was boiling I added salt. A theme that keeps getting repeated in-so-far SALT is very important. So I made the water in the pan a boiling salty “sea” water. Taking the Spatzle dough with a scraper I spread and pushed it thru the steamer pan. The dough then dripped down thru the holes and fell into the water creating little nuggets or dumplings of dough. Once they had cooked for about a minute I took them out using a spider and put them in another hotel pan and tossed them with a bit of olive oil. The Spatzle turned out pretty good! Chef commented that it had the prefect bright green color and I did a good job on the seasoning.

CIA Bootcamp - Spinach Spatzle

The Spinach Spatzle process it was quite the production!

After a long afternoon of cooking it was dinnertime!

Tonight because we had cooked more then just stock and mother sauces our dinner was the food we actually made. So we plated all the dishes that had been made and brought them over to the island to be served buffet style. It was a lot of fun to try all the dishes that everyone had made.

CIA Bootcamp Dinner and Kitchen

I took a picture of the magical dirty dishes window complete with dishwashers to share. On the bottom is the food we had prepared and me again in my fancy chef jacket.

Well and of course I buzzed over the pastry/baking buffet afterwards for some dessert. Tonight I had a sliver of Lemon Chiffon cake which was super super good well not so much the fondant (which I peeled off and didn’t eat as I’m not a huge fan) but it sure was pretty. They had been practicing birthday cakes this afternoon and there was a Mickey parts cake and well since this trip/experience is my birthday present from Jason I thought I better celebrate my birthday with some birthday cake so I had a piece of that too. BTW I ate the corner with his pants which were made out modeling chocolate and were quite tasty. 

CIA Bootcamp Dessert

Mickey Mouse birthday cake? Yes please!

In Closing

Today was packed with information and went by so fast! I am excited to see what tomorrow brings. The drive back to the B&B tonight was gorgeous once again and I stopped to snap a picture of it to share it with you all. Goodnight one and all from wine country!

Napa Valley Sunset

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