Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Meeting a Master

Phase 4, Week 6, Day 25

Today was super easy. We didn't do much actually. We got ready for our two day practical this week by practicing some plating techniques, inscribing with chocolate, and piping icing. We didn't want to use actual icing, so we whipped shortening  until it was the correct consistency and practiced with that and that was it. Kind of weird really.

The more interesting part of the day was when a special visitor came to campus for a lecture and demo in the afternoon. Master Certified Chef Edward Leonard  gave an interesting lecture on making classical food modern. Chef Leonard is a past President of the American Culinary Federation and recently came on board with LCB as a vice president and corporate chef. He has an amazing resume and was a fabulous speaker.  Some key concepts I took from the lecture:

-Good cooks must understand the science of cookery
-The quality of components in your dish reflects the end result
-You must understand the classics in order to make good modern food
-Chefs have a responsibility to their customers to give them the freshest and most local ingredients
-Just cook!

I enjoyed Chef Leonard's lecture and his many anecdotes. He was very knowledgeable, must be if he is one of only 74 CMC in the country, and funny. He discussed his teaching kitchen he had in place at the Westchester Country Club in NY, and how the kitchen was set up for employees to learn and better their craft no matter what stage they were in. He often referred to his experiences he gained through ACF competitions, also something that our instructors talk about often. This struck me as interesting, because I have been wondering if joining the ACF and entering some competitions would help me hone my skills, especially since I will not be working under a certified Chef in Springfield. But how would I do that with out any guidance or help?

I decided to stay after the lecture and ask Chef Leonard his thoughts on what young cooks can gain from the ACF. Chef Leonard gave me a similar answer as I have heard other Chefs give, but with a different outcome. He said he spent countless hours training for competitions and practicing his craft to reach the level he had achieved. His job had taken him around the world and given him countless life experiences, however, it was all at a price. He has been married three times and has children he feels he should know better, but in the end he wouldn't change a thing.

I'm not sure I would want to go that far with it, but I feel I could gain some positive experiences from challenging myself. We'll see where this road leads me....

BTW- Chef Pierre is also a master chef but not quite as approachable as this stranger, weird.

Chef Leonard signing a book for a student

Both modern and classic salad nicosie

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