Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cooking School Daze




Have you ever daydreamed about going to culinary school? I have. While I seriously doubt I'll ever attend, I do enjoy getting a glimpse of the professional kitchen. Here are some great ways to sneak a peek for less than even a day's tuition.

Whether you want to see videos of students, techniques or great chefs, the Culinary Institute of America at Epicurious.com has it all. The webcasts or "epi-sodes" are really addictive. I watched one, then another, then another. The chef videos are particularly good. Some highlights are a tour of the Per Se kitchen with Thomas Keller, an interview with Jacques Torres and a clay pot cooking lesson with Charles Phan. Tip: Start at the student episodes and then you can get to Channel Navigation where the technique and chef videos are.

Another great source of cooking school lessons comes from the Culinary Institute of America's ProChef program. There are a free "e-learning" classes you can take online, sponsored by different companies. They even include quizzes at the end of each unit. The Worlds of Flavor section is also terrific, my favorite? Savoring Asia.

Yesterday I got a copy of Baking Boot Camp: Five Days of Basic Training at The Culinary Institute of America and I practically devoured it in one sitting. It's written by Darra Goldstein primarily in a diary format. At the end of the book there are recipes and techniques, and tips are sprinkled throughout, but the day-by-day account of classes are surprisingly exciting in a voyeuristic kind of way. I hope there are more in this series--it's a real winner.