Day 5 - CIA Culinary Boot Camp


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Day 5 - CIA Culinary Boot Camp

The Week Comes to a Close

Hi folks, day five has come and gone bringing my Culinary Boot Camp adventure here at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone to a close. Of course it was another beautiful day here in Napa full of sunshine and have mentioned how great it smells here? I love the smell of pine and where I am staying has a patio out back surrounded by pine. I love sitting out there in the mornings and taking in the first rays of sunshine while enjoying my coffee.

I started off the day by going to the local farmers market in St. Helena. It was fun to see all of the local farmers and artisans. The veggies here are beautiful and my teammates ended up buying some beautiful heirloom tomatoes that we used in production today for El Gazpacho De Hoy. I ended up buying some yellow and white nectarines as well as some fresh apricots. I haven’t had a fresh apricot before as you don’t see those much in Minnesota it was super yummy.

Lecture Time

Todays lecture and focus was on Moist-Heat and Combination Cooking Methods. During the lecture we all learned how to create an En Papillote.

What is an En Papillote you ask?
I would be happy to tell you - I bet you probably could of guessed this part but its a on of those fancy french term meaning “in parchment”. For this method you create a poach out of parchment that contains a protein, usually fish and some herbs, seasonings etc. The En Papillote will hold in the steam and moisture as it cooks.

Fancy no?
I think so. When I get home I’m going to try this with some chicken since Jason and I aren’t huge fish people.

Demo Time

Today was a lighter day on demos however the demos we did were more hands-on such as making the En Papillote which was fun. Chef also demoed how to make Tamales and then we all got make one. Well I made more then one since team three needed some help getting them put together quickly. Chef also demoed some of the steps for making a Mole sauce. A mole sauce is a pretty complicated recipe with lots of components that need to be balanced just right.

Tamales Dough Demo

A demo on making the dough for Tamales

Tamales Demo

Demoing how to assemble Tamales

My Tamale

My Tamale all ready for the steaming basket

Mole Sauce Demo

A demo on Mole Sauce

Production Time

For production today my team was responsible for Poached Salmon, Duchesse Potatoes, Steamed Broccoli and El Gazpacho de Hoy. When we go into the kitchen all the potatoes were already on my cutting board so I worked on the Ducheese Potatoes while the others got the Poached Salmon and El Gazpacho de Hoy going. 

I thought the potatoes wouldn’t be too hard however today I was off my game or something. After getting the potatoes peeled and boiled I was going to put them in the oven to dry out and Chef walked and said those aren’t done they need to boil longer. So I had to start over and get more water boiling to cook them longer. He had me cook them a lot longer then I have ever cooked potatoes before! 

Cut up potatoes

My potaotes all peeled and ready for the boiling pot of "sea water"

Boiling Potatoes

The potatoes cooking in boiling "sea water" I believe this was round one
While the potatoes were doing their second round in the pot Chef told me to make croutons. Again I figured those would be easy I have made those dozens of time before. Well guess again after I had gotten the bread cut up into what I normally do at home he walked and asked "what is this for?" I replied "the croutons." He looked at me looked at the bread said "no" and swiped all them into the compost bin saying "we do small delicate croutons." So after a quick demo on how to cute the bread for small delicate croutons I started in on making croutons again. Oh well they did turn out good and looked great as garnish in the soups we served.

cutting croutons demo

Getting a demo on how to properly cut small delicate croutons

So back to the Ducheese Potatoes, when they had gotten to the point where the potatoes were super tender and would fall apart with the touch of a fork I pulled them out and put them on a baking sheet. I then baked them at 350°F until there was no more steam rising out of them (about 10 minutes). After that I ran them thru a food mill and then mixed in egg yolks, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I love the smell of nutmeg how about you? Anyways after I got that all mixed up I put it in a pastry bag with a star tip and pipped little mountains of it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. After placing a small cube of cheddar on each “mountain” those went into the oven again for another 10 mins until they were slightly golden. This is another dish I haven’t had or made before and it turned out pretty good. The hardest part was getting the pipping done right.

Food Mill

Processing the potatoes in the food mill

Dutchess Potatoes

The finished product

Dinner Time

All of our dishes turned out very well. The team who made tamales also made quesadillas using tortillas they made. Those were super good. The pea soup and gazpacho were both very good I will be trying the gazpacho recipe out myself this summer. Aren’t you excited for summer? I am I can’t wait to get my tomato plants going and start harvesting fresh tomatoes. There was also Smoky Peanut Mole with Quail which I liked quite a bit and freshly made tortilla chips with a Roasted Serrano Salsa. 

Our dinner

All the dishes we made and ate for dinner

I must say I am going to miss have such tasty desserts every night. Tonight was a beautiful assortment of cakes. I and a piece of chocolate coffee hazelnut which was divine. I think it was the best piece of cake I have had all week.


The cake table! Aren't they beautiful

In Closing

This week has been amazing, inspirational and exhausting all wrapped into one. There are so many things covered and condensed in this 5 day period its crazy. Yesterday when we were talking about grains Chef said that the full-time students spend 3 entire weeks on just grains. With that being said yes the information we got was condensed and not probably even close to what you would get out of a full culinary education but man did I get a lot out of this week. 

Coming into this I wasn’t what you would call a beginner cook but after this week I feel like my culinary skills have grown. I don’t think I will be approaching cooking the same way anymore. Most important I feel more confident in my ability to create great meals for my family and friends. 

Some things I didn’t know before that I do now!

  • The proper way to hold a knife (I haven't been doing it right all these years!) 
  • How use that properly held knife to cut up vegetables in all sorts of fancy shapes such as Burnoise, Batonnet, and Julienne.
  • The difference between a stock and a broth.
  • What the five Mother or Grand Sauces are and how you can take those and turn them into something else completely.
  • How to cut up a whole chicken into 8 or 10 pieces
  • How truss said chicken ensuring it cooks evenly
  • What a cooking in a commercial kitchen is like and how they are different from your home kitchen
  • That I look pretty good in a Chef jacket


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