How To Apply To Culinary School

Culinary Students Having been raised in Sweden, Marcus didn't go to culinary school in the States. Instead his path to becoming a professional chef started in high school when he applied to a specialized school where students could learn to hone their craft in fashion, dance, singing, and of course, cooking. Instead of the rigors of a program like the French Culinary Institute or the Culinary Institute of America, Marcus chopped and sweated his way through vocational school then through the toughest kitchens in Europe. Read his whole story in "Yes, Chef", his award-winning memoir.

Culinary arts has now become a major career choice for all ages. In a time when chefs and culinary professionals are the new age rock stars, the number of people enrolling in culinary arts schools has risen significantly in the past few years. The food industry is bustling and producing great chefs and food industry professionals alike, and now going to culinary school seems to be a great option. Like any other school you look to apply to, choosing the right culinary school is key to your success and you want to make sure that the school matches who you are and your needs and career goals.

A Look into the Future: 

With the dreams of becoming a celebrity chef, a published food author, or a prized food photographer, comes the harsh reality of actually going, not only to culinary school, but working in a food related industry. Long shifts, cuts, burns, standing on your feet all day, and more all play a deep roll in being in the food industry. It's best to sit down with yourself and think if you can deal with and manage all these aspects and more, prior to applying for culinary school. Your love for all things food and chef could drastically change once you begin culinary school, and you may realize that you  just like to eat in restaurants more than you like to cook in one.

Marcus

Apply Yourself: 

Applying to culinary school is a lot like applying to a regular academic university. Aside from your undying love for food and hospitality, applying for culinary schools also comes with academic needs as well. A high school diploma or GED equivalent, GPA, extra curricular activity and more are all needed to apply to a majority of today's culinary schools. Also a crucial addition to all of these things are food related experiences and/or work experience in a food-related field, that is NOT fast food. Several culinary schools require you to have hands on work experience in a food related business (roughly 6 months) prior to applying for culinary school. This gives you the opportunity to test the waters and see if continuing your culinary education is best fit for you.

cooking, culinary school, chef, how to,

 

Know Yourself:

The culinary industry is very hard work, just ask any chef. This is truly a industry for passionate individuals who believe in their craft and the power of food. It is also a industry for the hard worker, the person willing to not go home until the job is done. That attitude is where people sometimes get mislead. Being a highly praised chef is essentially the ultimate goal, but ask any chef what they had to give up to get there are they will tell you a little bit of everything. Time is of the essence in a kitchen and speed is a necessity. If you are slow on a task, there is always someone in the kitchen that works faster than you. Be sure to be committed to the craft before you apply.

 

How To Make Quick Jam

Photo: julochka I always find that when I venture through the farmers market, I always seem to buy fruits and vegetables I wouldn't ordinarily buy. The strawberries, the blueberries, and every piece of fruit in between always looks so amazingly fresh at the farmers market that I get home and have an abundance, and of course you never want this beautiful fruit to spoil. Spoiling is wishful thinking, and you need to think fast on how to savor this seasons farmers market harvest. This is where quick jam fits in perfectly. Making a quick jam solves so many wonderful problems and also uses up all of the fruit you so anxiously bought. Whether it be spooned on top of hot waffles or the tomato jam served with the corn bread at Red Rooster Harlem, jam can add a nice touch to a variety of things. Here are a few quick and easy tips for making quick jam at home. 

You Already Have Half of What You Need:

Making quick jam is really easy once you realize you are actually half way there. There is no need to boil jars, sealing tops or any of those intricate details. What you need is already in your kitchen. A large pot to boil the fruit, a spoon, and a jar to keep your jam in, is really all that's required.

Small and Personalized:

When making quick jams, it's better to make them in small batches. Using 1-2 pounds of fruit at a time is ideal. This helps keep the jam consistent  and also with smaller batches you can experiment with flavors. Strawberry jalapeño jam? Blueberry lime? Peach and chilies? Working in small batches will allow you to have variation and will also help when using up all of your farmers market finds.

Let's Jam:

For a quick jam, all you need is fruit, sugar and lemon juice. A key step in making quick jam is simmering or boiling the fruit, sugar and lemon together, but also allowing it to cool completely. As it cools, the jam will thicken and congeal, which is exactly what you need it to do, so you can smear it on your morning toast.

Here are 4 recipes that can accompany your jam! 

Red Rooster Harlem Cornbread Recipe 

Buckwheat Walnut Flax Bread 

Raspberry Jam Torte

Raised Waffles 

Coconut Macaroons, 5 Ways

With all the French macaron hype, coconut macaroons (Congolais in France) have been left in their almond flour dust. However, these gooey, chewy, coconut-y treats are just as delectable and way easier to make. And just like their French buttercream-filled counterparts, they can be flavored anyway you like it.  One of the many things my meins mideg (Armenian for grandmother) taught me was how to transform leftovers and not to waste what we have. Her leftovers-in-a-cookie-or-boereg (traditionally a cheese and herb filled phyllo dough parcel)  ideas don't always work, but when they do, they are magic. And like magic, it's impossible to figure out how it happened (because, of course, she can never remember what bits and pieces she put in it).  This idea of resourcefulness is a practice instilled in her by her mother, as they, like many immigrant families, had to make use of every bit they bought. To me, her tendencies to continue to use this "waste not, want not" mentality is not only about being economical, it's about keeping the memories of her mother alive by making these thrifty ideas part of our family's traditions.

Here are some traditional, and some quirky ways to remix those creamy coconut textures and flavors. Or maybe they'll just inspire you to come up with your own "crazy leftovers" or "what's still in the pantry" coconut macaroons.

Coconut Macaroons 5 ways:

coconut macaroons

1. Simple Coconut Macaroons (makes 2 dozen):

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Mix together:
    •  2 whole eggs
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
    • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Place tablespoon-sized mounds onto a lined baking sheet.
  • Bake macaroons for 20-30 minutes (depending on how you like them, but keep an eye on them as they do tend to turn from perfectly golden to burnt quite quickly).

2. Chocolate Covered, Drizzled, Dipped or Speckled: Make (with 74% cacao chocolate nibs and 1/2 cup of heavy cream) your own chocolate sauce (heat heavy cream just until it comes to a boil, remove from heat and stir in chocolate until is fully melts and sauce becomes smooth) or just buy some (we won't tell) and either cover, dip, or drizzle the cooled macaroons. Have left over chocolate chips at home? Just add 1/2 cup (or more if you like it extra chocolate-y) to the mixture before you bake them.

Chocolate drizzed coconut macaroon

3. Sea Salt & Caramel: Make or buy caramel sauce, add sea salt (to taste) and drizzle on top of cooled macaroons. You can also add 1/2 cup of  chopped up sea salted caramels (like the ones below) to the uncooked mix and bake in the gooey goodness.

sea salt caramels

4. Raspberries: Jammed or Freshly Puréed: Or try any other fruit you fancy. If you like a sweeter flavor, add 2-3 tablespoons of your favorite jam to the uncooked macaroon mixture. If you want a more tart and fresh flavor, quickly puree your fruit of choice and add about 1/2 cup of the puree into the mix.

raspberry jam

5. Nutty, Fruity & Maybe Even a Bit Seedy: I'm sure, like me, many of you have a hodgepodge of leftover nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios), dried fruit (cranberries, apricots), or seeds (chias, flax, sunflower) that you bought during that "I'm going to snack healthy" phase. Add a 1/2 cup of roughly chopped favorites, or whatever you have, to the uncooked mixture. Trail mix type items are a great way to add extra flavor without too much added sugar. Think decadent granola bar.

mixed nuts

 

For more Articles by Ashley Beck, click here.

For more Recipes by Ashley Beck, click here.

Want to Eat Better? Here's How to Start

Photo: cleber

With all of the amazing chefs, restaurants, food carts, and everything delicious in between, it's hard to keep a complete healthy diet. Everyday, a new chef is born, a new meal is created, and a new dining option is widely available. It gets to be a bit much sometimes, keeping up with not only the Joneses, but also keeping up with everything the food world has to offer. Now more than ever, it's important to not only know where our food source is coming from but to also know key factors when it comes to feeding ourselves and our families.  You always hear words like "grassfeed"  and "sustainability" but do we really know what any of these words mean? Here are a few key definitions to help you eat better.

Organic: Refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. Soil and land is minimally processed with out any artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation. Foods cannot be irradiated, genetically modified or grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge. Organic meat and poultry cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics, and organic meat animals must have access to the outdoors.

Locavore: Someone who exclusively or at least primarily eats foods from their local or regional food shed, or a determined radius from there home. Commonly 100-250 miles in radius from where they live depending on the location of where they live.

Free Range: A method in farming, where animals are allowed to roam freely instead of being detained in any matter.

Grass Feed: Animals who eat  a diet of natural grass and other forage in there natural environment instead of cheap feed.

Cheap Feed: Food for animal consumption condensed of meat from other animals or the same species of animal (meat from diseased animals;feathers; hair; skin; hooves; blood; animal waste; plastic; antibiotics)

Sustainable Agriculture: Food production methods that are healthy, don't harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fare wages to farm workers and support farming communities. This can pertain to produce, meat, seafood, etc.

Cage Free: Refers to hens that are not raised in cages. There is no standard definition for "cage free" and cage free also means that animals aren't in cages but may also not be outdoors either.

Hormone Free: Animals that are and were never given hormone treatments

Natural: Nothing is grown with artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed. If processed, it must not fundamentally alter the the product. If the product is labeled, the label must include a specific explanation.

Pasture Raised: Animals that are naturally raised in a pasture that can roam freely in their natural environment. They are able to eat nutritious grasses and other plants that their bodies are adapted to digest.

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How To Make Popsicles at Home

Experiment with flavors and add-ins to make your popsicles personal to your whims. (Photo: roboppy) In the heat, there are only a few things that can make the heat enjoyable. A view of the ocean, an ice cold drink, and a flavorful popsicle, just to name a few. When the temperature is over 90 degrees, a popsicle is the perfect way to cool your body down and also sneak in a tasty treat. Popsicles are an all-time favorite, but a sugary box with grape, orange, and cherry flavors just aren't cutting it anymore. Different flavors, teas, spices, and sweeteners can all be added  to your popsicle of choice when you make them at home. Making these warm weather favorites are quick and easy. Here are some tips on making popsicles at home. 

With or Without: 

Homemade popsicles are easy to make no matter what time of day. A few ingredients and a few options will have your freezer stocked with popsicles for the entire summer. The primary tool for making popsicles, naturally, is a popsicle maker. Truthfully, popsicles can be made in anything ranging from an actually popsicle maker of any shape, size and mold, a small narrow cup, or even ice cube trays that you already have in your freezer. If you are using cups versus a traditional popsicle mold, it will be great help to have some plastic wrap on hand as well. A layer of plastic wrap over the molds, then inserting the popsicle sticks through the plastic will help the sticks stay in place when freezing. Another option for making popsicles without molds are, partially freeze your filling in the molds for about 30 minutes, and then add the popsicle stick. This will help the stick stay in place and not lean to one side. When filling the molds or cups with your desired flavors, pour filling from a pitcher or something with a spout that will allow you to pour directly in the mold. This helps control your pour and helps with the ease of clean up.

Flavors: 

The great thing about making popsicles at home is the flavors you can create. Whether fruit based or dairy based, these decisions can be mixed and matched to how you like them. Fruit, Dairy, and Sweeteners are the 3 main things that can compose a great popsicle. A water based popsicle has no dairy, and fruit is the main component, where as a dairy-based popsicle can be rich and creamy with the help of milk, yogurt, or even Greek yogurt. Sugar, agave nectar, and honey can be added in to combat the sugary sweetness of conventional store-bought popsicles.

An Ice Cold Treat: 

Now that you are a popsicle flavor master, it's time to eat them. When completely frozen solid, run the mold or cup under warm water for just a few minutes. This helps release the popsicle from the mold so you can pull them out easier. Popsicles will last in the freezer for a few weeks or you can unmold them and wrap them individually and freeze them.

For an extra kick, make adult-only poptails-- cocktails in popsicle form.