ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › First-time cooking demo: Your insights are needed!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

First-time cooking demo: Your insights are needed!

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I almost never post here in the professionals' forums because I'm a home cook. But I think this is the best place to come for pointers.

Next Monday I'll be demonstration three Eastern European Jewish dishes: chicken soup with matzo balls; kasha varnishkes; and rugelach. I will have 90 minutes so I know good preparation will be crucial. The demo will be done at a friend's restaurant near my home. Last time we did this (a professional caterer demoed three dishes), we had 18 people attend. I will assume that number for mine. They are mostly not highly skilled home cooks, so my goal is to introduce them to the methods and flavors so they can feel they can make these items and enjoy them. Therefore, I do use some convenience products.

Here's what I can tell you so far. If I'm full of hooey on some point, please let me know!

1. Chicken soup with matzo balls: I'm billing it as "Speed Scratch Matzo Ball Soup" because I'm using boxed broth (Swanson's) and enhancing it with leek, dill, carrot, parsley and celery. The matzo balls will be made from Manischewitz mix. I plan to have the broth and some matzo balls made ahead, and to demonstrate the making of one batch of matzo balls. While they cook....

2. Kasha varnishkes (cooked kasha with bowtie macaroni): Hot, cooked kasha is assumed, as are pre-cooked bowtie macaroni. What makes the dish is onions sauteed in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) and the combination of the textures. The kasha can be cooked in about 15 minutes, but I plan to pre-cook the bowties and heat them. The onions will be chopped and sauteed during the demonstration.

3. Rugelach: Needless to say, the dough will be mixed and chilled ahead. I'll focus on forming them and baking them. The dough will be rolled out into rectangles 16" X 5", skim-coated with apricot or raspberry jam, then sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and nuts before being rolled and cut into 1-1/2" pieces. (This is much faster and easier than rolling wedges from a dough circle!!) They also get brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with cinnamon/turbinado sugar. They take about 30-40 minutes to bake. Because of this, should I do the rugelach first and get the other two done while the cookies are in the oven, or what? Your feedback is desired!!!
Thanks,
Mezz
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #2 of 13
Start with the cookies, make one batch of dough and have ref. dough to swap out. Send out a small bit for them to touch.....if possible have gloves and let them each or a few of them form their own rugelach
Absolutely have an assitant to put stuff in the oven and pull it out in time.

I don't know what kind of equipment you have, is it in the restaurant kitchen or out front on burners? How many? How hot do they get....some are just cheap and barely warm stuff.

If you have homemade broth/smaltz for Kasha why not have it for Matzo's?
Make sure to have chilled broth/smaltz so they can see how you pull it from the top of the stock.....the more visual the better. Have asst. put in sample cups or plates and pass as you are going to the Matzo Soup.
Let them touch a matzo ball. I like talking about variations....reads like you are doing that.
Recipes are always good for classes, yes I do write recipes for classes but only 'cus I got to.....




1. Chicken soup with matzo balls: I'm billing it as "Speed Scratch Matzo Ball Soup" because I'm using boxed broth (Swanson's) and enhancing it with leek, dill, carrot, parsley and celery. The matzo balls will be made from Manischewitz mix. I plan to have the broth and some matzo balls made ahead, and to demonstrate the making of one batch of matzo balls. While they cook....

2. Kasha varnishkes (cooked kasha with bowtie macaroni): Hot, cooked kasha is assumed, as are pre-cooked bowtie macaroni. What makes the dish is onions sauteed in schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) and the combination of the textures. The kasha can be cooked in about 15 minutes, but I plan to pre-cook the bowties and heat them. The onions will be chopped and sauteed during the demonstration.

3. Rugelach: Needless to say, the dough will be mixed and chilled ahead. I'll focus on forming them and baking them. The dough will be rolled out into rectangles 16" X 5", skim-coated with apricot or raspberry jam, then sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and nuts before being rolled and cut into 1-1/2" pieces. (This is much faster and easier than rolling wedges from a dough circle!!) They also get brushed with egg wash and sprinkled with cinnamon/turbinado sugar. They take about 30-40 minutes to bake. Because of this, should I do the rugelach first and get the other two done while the cookies are in the oven, or what? Your feedback is desired!!!
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #3 of 13
Mezz- we do demo/classes at my school.... what I have found sucessful---- prep anything that's not essential to the demo- chopped, sliced, partially cooked, etc., small glass dishes are great for each ingredient.... I usually hand out a copy of the recipe at the end, that way if folks like it- they can reproduce it. Talk as you assemble ingredients- tell what it is you are adding and/or how it was prepped (eg. 2 Tbsp diced onion). Be sure to make eye contact every now and then. And if possible, allow volunteers to help. Shroom makes a great comment about passing around some ingredients if possible. Most of all, just let your enthusiasm for cooking show, and have fun with it!!
Bon Vive' !
Reply
Bon Vive' !
Reply
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Great ideas, Shroom and Jayme!

Matzo balls- I learned to make them with only eggs and matzo meal- no fat, no seltzer, no hand-forming. I plan to make some like that and have some pre-made from the mix. As for cooking them in the soup, I never do that myself. Too much of the soup is absorbed by the dumplings. Typically I cook them in broth with water or water with a bit of soup base for flavor, then tranfer them to the soup at the end.

Schmaltz- I've made about 1/2 pint of it from chicken fat and onions. I won't have chicken in the soup to give off fat for use in the matzo balls. I'll have spoons for tasting for the brave ones. :D

The kitchen- it's in the actual kitchen. There'll be a prep table set up front and center, but I'll have my back turned to them when I'm at the stove. I taught in that position for 30 years! I can turn and show them what's in the pot as things go along.

Rugelach- good idea to mix the dough in front of them to see the texture, etc. I'll still have the dough pre-made in case time gets tight. Remember, it's only 90 minutes. That may seem like a lot, but I know from teaching that time can fly with hands-on activities.
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #5 of 13
I think it's dangerous to have rugelach available that hasn't been taste-tested first. I hereby volunteer. ;)
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #6 of 13
4. Don't forget to breathe.

Good luck.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
Reply
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
Reply
post #7 of 13
Amazingly to me, most people don't know how cut onions or clean leeks.....
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #8 of 13
Peach-- LOL LOL
great one!! Mezz- breathing would be advised.... LOL
Bon Vive' !
Reply
Bon Vive' !
Reply
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Things just got easier- I learned we have a small number of people signed up at this time, so we're moving the demo to my own kitchen. It'll be a lot less schlepping for me, and I know I'll have exactly the equipment I'll need.

I've decided to do the rugelach first so they can bake off, then do the soup and finally the kasha.
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I just finished putting my kitchen back in order. The event was GREAT and I learned that planning is everything. Your suggestions about letting people see, smell, taste and touch ingredients was wise. I ended up seating the participants around my kitchen table. I had supplies and equipment ready if they wanted to roll the dough out, or do some other task, but they chose to watch, taste and enjoy. It was fun! Doing this at home was far easier, but a group of 10 would have been too big (four ultimately came, but five were expected). I bought plastic containers and had them take home what they wanted. The food choices were well-received. We had a lively discussion about the best way to make matzo balls, a centuries-old "discussion" in Jewish kitchens.

Thanks, everyone, for your advice. I'd do this again in a heartbeat.
Mezzaluna
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #11 of 13
So glad it went well for you.....planning is 75% of teaching, knowing what you are teaching intimately is key. I have always taught so that students will feel comfortable enough with techniques/ingred./etc to go home and make whatever the class was on. To know some substitutions also.

That to me is teaching the masses. The other shtuff where you get on a stage and make something that NO ONE in a home kitchen can access the ingredients or can make within one day is pure ego. It's OK for a professional group but at the end of the day you've just done a song and dance for amatuers.

Touching, tasting, smelling.....using all your senses makes you a better cook IM(H)O.
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
cooking with all your senses.....
Reply
post #12 of 13
You're absolutely right, Shroom, about the dog & pony shows. Putting aside the fees earned, it's mostly ego tripping.

And yet.....

Ever notice that those types of classes are almost always fully subscribed. I think foodies really enjoy those shows. And, while many of them cannot (because of equipment or ingredient or time restrictions) actually replicate the dishes made, they go home inspired to be more creative in their home kitchens. So they are learning something.

It's like those lavishly illustrated up-scale cookery books. People complain that they are useless for the home cook. And that may be so. But somebody is buying them. Again, they may not be cooking those precise recipes, but they are inspired, perhaps, to do a little more with presentation, or to be creative with the ingredients available to them.

Another aspect of the food shows is that attendees get bragging rights from having been there. When using a technique or presentation idea they picked up there, they'll tell their guests, "I learned this trick from Chef So & So." Many times that alone is worth the price of admission to them.

But so far as actually cooking goes, you're right again. It's the hands-on demos that most people learn something at. And, truth to tell, I often learn as much putting one together as do the people who attend.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Amen! Although I know a lot about lesson planning and task analysis, this was a new way to apply those skills. Lots of fun, too!
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › First-time cooking demo: Your insights are needed!