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Online info for learning more about the kitchen and cooking?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

After following the other thread here where many stated that culinary school was mostly a wast of time and money I'm curious where can on go to learn more about different techniques and foods ect as used in chef type kitchens? Not aspiring to be a pro cheft at all but would like to learn alot more about overall foods, and cooking and styles ect. Always amazed at how the chefs come up with stuff off the top of their head in some shows like "Chopped" and "Iron Chef".  Want to learn how to "plate" more pretty, elegant, nice, whatebver you call it. Really dont want to buy 50 books, just dont have the time.

 

Thanks

 

QT

post #2 of 28

Quite frankly, I think you've found it. Just ask a lot of questions, and you'll get a lot of answers. Then do a quick google search of anything you aren't familiar with. Others may have comprehensive websites, but I just assimilate information from all over.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #3 of 28

I think Quetex may be looking for a more formatted structure of instruction rather then having to comb through several years of forum posts, although it's worth the effort. I would suggest a short cooking course at a community college to get a more hands on  approach to different styles and learn techniques directly from an instructor. Most cooks learn flavor and styles by working in restaurants where things become second nature. You can have a real hard time getting things down as fast in the home kitchen. School' s only a waste if you find out after spending 40-80k that this isn't the job for you, but for the home cook there is little to nothing wasted in learning what you can from a reasonably priced course or private instruction. 

 

anyone know if we have a plating wiki?

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #4 of 28

I don't trust Iron Chef, as there's something very obviously being left out.  While the "secret" ingredient is unknown, the chefs already have brought in considerable groceries and seemingly have several dishes planned and then whittle the list down based upon the secret ingredient.  The chefs will pull out some interesting items, from what appears to be thin air.  An example was the battle of bell peppers and both chefs pull out these rather large fish.  Had the secret ingredient been pork shoulders, the fish would have had no reason to appear.  They also seem to start putting items on to cook as soon as the timer starts.  It therefore, appears to me that they probably have a shopping/planning time somewhere between finding out the "secret ingredient" and starting the actual battle. 

 

Chopped seems easier.  They provide you with a framework of ingredients (admittedly, some odd combinations), and the chef then has to incorporate all items in the dish.  This type of situation has no real place in the home, unless you just like challenges.  I am not suggesting its easy to come up with an idea for a dish, but you have a set of parameters handed to you and must figure out something edible. 

 

I think learning which spices lend themselves to certain situations would be a good place to start.  For instance, apples and pork just seem to go together.  Bay leaves and chicken, or thyme and chicken.  Start looking for combinations where you could add a new spice to your pantry (and use it), and you can add flavor that way. 

 

Proper doneness and a good flavor will go a very long way. 

post #5 of 28

I personally think rouxbe.com is a great online school if you're looking for something formatted (by ingredient, by cooking technique, etc..). They sometimes offer a free trial, for example right now:

 

http://www.sense-serendipity.com/2010/04/partners-with-rouxbe-online-cooking.html

 

Then come back here and expand on that knowledge.

post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Gobbly yes I noticed that too, seems to me that there really is no secret ingredient but the show is just done that way for the viewers imo. Still fun to watch and they do put some amazing things together I think.

post #7 of 28

This is a little off topic, but, since it was brought up: There is no secret to how that's done. The way Iron Chef is produced has been broadcast several times.

 

What happens is that they are given, a couple of days (I forget whether its two or three) in advance, a list of three possibilities for the secret ingredient. So, yes, they've had a chance to do some planning---of the "if it's this, I might do that," type. I'm sure the savvy ones think in terms of, "what might work with all three of those."

 

Personally, I have no problem with that. I can't imagine even the most creative chef coming in cold, and having to create five dishes with a theme ingredient off the top of his/her head. Even with that one-possibility-out-of-three warning, I think most of them to an incredible job. Plus, if there were no hints at all, the home-court advantage enjoyed by the Iron Chefs would make it impossible for a challenger to win.

 

What bothers me about the show (other than Alton Brown's often inane comments) is the stilted repartee between the challenger and the chairman at the start of each episode. Gimme a break! Let's spend less time talking and more time cooking.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 28

Thanks for the information.  I'm glad it's been "published", as the show would make it appear that you find out the secret ingredient and then suddenly have to start cooking with it.  It certainly makes the "secret" ingredient a whole lot less secret.  Preparing 5 dishes certainly is difficult enough, even before the variables are thrown in.  This also makes Symon's "Cook Like An Iron Chef" make more sense, since he knows the secret ingredient and can plan accordingly.  I'm sure you can appreciate how having a list of 3 possibilities certainly makes the challenge not as impossible as the show makes it appear. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

This is a little off topic, but, since it was brought up: There is no secret to how that's done. The way Iron Chef is produced has been broadcast several times.

 

What happens is that they are given, a couple of days (I forget whether its two or three) in advance, a list of three possibilities for the secret ingredient. So, yes, they've had a chance to do some planning---of the "if it's this, I might do that," type. I'm sure the savvy ones think in terms of, "what might work with all three of those."

post #9 of 28

I'm with quetex here. As I lurke on these forums and stuff. I feel my cooking skills are strong, as are my flavor combinations and cooking style. I really need to work on my plating and presentation skills as they are crap. What would be a good way to start working on plating skills? I have recently thought of actually plating my own dishes even if I am just cooking for myself as practice.

post #10 of 28

Mike, there were a couple of threads on plating recently... I found this one: http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/43128/plating-food - but that wasn't the one I was thinking about... maybe if you try a search you'll get luckier.

post #11 of 28

I've watched these shows, Iron Chef, as well as Chopped.

 

I think the significant difference is made, the Iron Chef show is much to do about nothing. But as was mentioned, this is not something they have hidden. I don't know about any advanced knowledge of the ingredient, I never saw that, but I do know that what we see in the first 60 minutes, is just 1 plating. They are given much more time to produce the dishes for the judges, it's all edited together into a crazy 1 hr battle. It's still cool and I'll watch it any night of the week, so long as Guy Fieri isn't chasing down some real cooks in tripple D.

 

One thing I think in either case will benefit you, learn different cuisines. Period.

 

Chopped is a great example. Someone comes in with ancestry, technique, and deep roots in greek cuisine and they get something like pop tarts! That is a challenge! I love it, learn as many cuisines and techniques as you can. I watch Chopped, and as I have done this, my visions for what I could do with a basket have sprung big time, I really love that show, wish they did it twice a week.

post #12 of 28

Eastshores, the contestents on Iron Chef are given one hour to produce five show plates. Off camera, they are then given an additional 45 minutes to produce the tasting plates for the judges----which, among other things, are judged on how much they resemble the display version.

 

Again, none of this is held in secret. Food Network is not my favoritest channel by any stretch of the imagination. But you can't fault them on this. They are very open about the mechanics of the show.

 

Iron Chef show is much to do about nothing

 

Pretty harsh, if you ask me.

 

Why don't you do this as an experiment for yourself. Pick an ingredient. Any ingredient. Give yourself two days to think about it. Now come up with five original dishes using that ingredient (rememer, now, no cookbooks, recipe cards, or other resources), and prepare five servings of those dishes in an hour and 45 minutes. You will be judged on taste, presentation, and originality.

 

Think you could to that "nothing?"

 

Bobby Flay, who, as you probably know, has his fingers in a lot of pies, says Iron Chef is the hardest thing he does. I believe it.

 

That aside, I can't imagine watching that show, and coming away without having learned something about techniques, plating, or combining flavors. To me it's one of the greatest learning tools ever broadcast.

 

On the other hand, Guy Fieri has no respect for food or for the profession of cooking. For him it's all about being a rock star and the center of attention. Do you really think holding a dish over a prep counter and taking a drippy bite out of it is proper behavior?

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #13 of 28

I've probably learned more from Alton Brown's commentary during that show than in any other singular place (besides ChefTalk).  I also enjoy Good Eats immensely.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #14 of 28

 

 For me, Drive Ins, Diners and Dives isnt about Guy Fieri---oh he might be the host, but I just like to see good food. Yeah I know, he can be an idiot, but again, I dont watch the show for him.

 

As far as the Iron Chef goes, Rick Bayless answered some questions in this thread http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/16105/iron-chef-battle


Edited by MacGregor - 12/2/10 at 9:45am
post #15 of 28

KYH, I was being harsh but I was in a different frame of thought. Iron Chef is undoubtedly difficult, and if my daytime gig for the last 13 years was working on the line, as passionate as I am, with two sous chefs, I would make a run at it and most certainly lose. However, I'd say the difficult part, is all of the Iron Chefs are going up against some really talented chefs from all over the country, just the sheer stress of competition would be hard, and they have to create unique dishes over and over whereas the challenger could be creating dishes they've done for 3 years and no one would really know.

 

However, Iron Chef is drama TV. The reason I dismissed it, when bringing up Chopped as well as Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives, was because I am more of a realist. I guess that's also why I like Anthony Bourdain, he's pretty real and many say he is disrespectful toward the profession. I'm not a professional in the food industry, so you can't really offend me with things like "kitchen etiquette". To say Guy Fieri has no respect for food, is also a bit harsh.

 

You don't have to like Guy Fieri's mannerisms to respect that he is finding and displaying unique "hole-in-the-wall" restaurants all over the country that are steeped in history, regional cuisine, and in many cases they demonstrate the real picture of scratch cooking. You can say it's all about him, but that is half true and half ridiculous for a show in which the main premise involves showcasing others.

post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

This type of situation has no real place in the home, unless you just like challenges.


Are you kidding, our home we don't shop for menus we shop for basics, only on special occasions do we shop for menus. Thus everyday is a version of Chopped, it starts with what is going to get thawed out that day, then I have to decide on how to prepare the main dish, side dishes, salad or other starter. Yes a lot of dishes are repeated, however each week I try to change up at few dishes to keep things interesting. Often due to budget we may be missing some main ingredient not purchased during the previous shopping, so improvising is always happening. However the week starts with either chicken, which the carcass is turned into chicken stock, or braised pork roast where the braising liquid is saved and sometimes reduced, both kept fresh in the fridge for sauces and flavoring in other dishes later in the week.

The variations are inspired by either cooking shows where I see something I think I would like, or by this very forum. Techniques also have been learned from watching shows, I learned a lot from watching Emeril because the pace of his show was slower than the typical 30 min show. Other TV chefs have been helpful too. Last year for the holidays I decided to make our own egg nog instead of buy it at the grocery store. We always serve egg nog during the year end festivities, so this was going to be a permanent upgrade to our tradition, it had to be good. I watched 2 shows, Alton Green's episode that had egg nog, and Tyler's show. Then I looked up recipes on the internet and finally watch maybe a dozen youtube videos. Result, first time out it was just ok, 2nd time adjustments made and it was a hit, with two former bartenders in the family giving serious praise.

Not everything works of course, but the main point is to get inspired, learn and then try.
post #17 of 28

   EastShores, I suppose we all get different things out of each show.  I don't receive the Food Network anymore, so I don't get to see the latest episodes unless I'm watching at work.  I've never been much of a fan of Iron Chef America, but I was a HUGE fan of The original Iron Chef...way before it ever became popular.  I remember I would watch the show weekly and enjoy the competition.  But it wasn't until I started to seek out some high quality food and high quality ingredients that things really "clicked" for me regarding Iron Chef. 

 

   I would go out to eat, in Chicago and burbs, and seek out cooking, food, particular chefs, particular ingredients.  I don't have unlimited amounts of money, so when I go out I want it to count.  When out at a restaurant I'll sometimes order a 7, 9, 12, etc. course dinner to get an idea what the food is like.  But if I get the impression the waitstaff and chef would be on board there are times when we were getting things cooked for us.  On menu, off menu, fresh ingredients, special ingredients...and I thought.  How nice would it be to have some of the best chefs cooking some of the freshest, finest ingredients with the intensity of a battle in order to deliver the finest cuisine.  I thought, that's basically Iron Chef!  Now...now I understood what Chairman Kaga was thinking.  This would literally be the creme de la creme.

 

   I have eaten at a couple of the challengers restaurants and also at (Iron Chef America) Jose Garces restaurant as well.  But wouldn't it be something to have these guys cook for me...in a competition...showcasing the best ingredients.  A man can dream smile.gif

 

   As for Guy Fieri...I can't stomach him at all.  Diners, Drive-ins and Dives?  Talk about Drama!  I've eaten at a couple of the places he's televised...some were ok and some were nothing special at all.  I'm not saying that he doesn't stop at some great diners...but when you see his show about a place you know (and aren't impressed) it's like you've never been to this place before because of the way he goes on and on about it.

 

     I really didn't know where he came from, so I decided to look up his bio on The Food Network.  One thing that popped out at me was that he was a winner of The Next Food Netwok Star, I hadn't known this.  I only watched a few episodes of the first season.  They totally lost me after a few episodes when they were talking about what makes a Food Network star.  I remember they described that stories of your grandmother go over well, talking about a childhood pet is always a hit too.  The contestants were also told not to worry if the food wasn't cooking the way it should, the important thing was to keep talking and keep the show moving forward.  Lastly they were instructed that if the food tasted horrible just put on a yummy face and describe how good it is.  In fact, that's when I started watching all the Food Network shows differently.  I still think that everything that the Food Network is and what The Next Food Network Star is...is exactly the opposite of what made Julia so grand.

 

    It's not as though he hasn't got accomplishments...but I believe Food Network DID make him a Food Network Star.  I think shows just speak differently to each person.

 

   

 

 

  On the subject of cooking schools...

 

    I would love to have the time/money to go to culinary school.  I wouldn't want to do it so much for employment as I would love to just learn more about cooking.  While I can see cooking being a personally rewarding career, the hours are something I wouldn't be willing do.  I'd like to stay with my current hours of work.  But boy would I like it!

 

 

 

 

    dan

post #18 of 28

gonefishin, let me first say, I wish, I sincerely wish I lived somewhere that I could have a 5-7 course, or even tapas style meal. I am cursed, because I live in a tourist (Mickey) state, with mainly 1. mom and pop places 2. chains 3. tourist traps .. case in point: We have an Emeril's within 30 miles, but I've never eaten there. Why? Because it's smack dab in the middle of Universal Studios Citywalk, and everyone I have spoken with said, yea.. pretty good but overpriced... same thoughts I had after eating at Ruth's Chris and I didn't even pay for my meal there. That is underwhelming at best.

 

I know there are one or two places in nearby Orlando, that have a good reputation, I hope to visit. One is an American gastro-pub that is absolutely booked out most nights of the week. There is also a place in my home town that is supposed to be exceptional, but that bar is not so high. In short, I've never experienced that kind of "Iron Chef" meal. I can't speak to it, I have no idea what it feels like. I hope to do that and have contemplated taking a road trip up the east coast to just hit the highest rated restaurants along the way.

 

Last point on Guy's show, I genuinely enjoy watching it. It brings me happiness, more so than Iron Chef America. That's just me, I like the idea of a CIA trained chef whipping up their own creativity at a tiny sit down located next to a car wash. I like that, because it isn't pretentious perhaps.

 

post #19 of 28

   Our kids would love to live next to Mickey's house...and I have to admit my wife and I wouldn't mind it either.  I'm not sure where to eat in Disney...we're focused on things other than food when we go there.  I hope I didn't give the impression that I don't like dives because I enjoy and seek them out as much as I do other restaurants.  I guess I just have a better connection with Iron Chef than with Guy. 

 

  happy eating!

 

  dan

post #20 of 28

Fieri, looked him up on Wiki one time because someone was going on and on about him (in a bad way).

 

He started cooking because his family did a macrobiotic diet and let him cook his own meals.

He had a pretzel stand as a kid. Bachelors from UNLV in Hospitality Management.

 

 

in 1987, he went to work for Stouffer's, developing restaurant concepts in Southern California  and managing their flagship restaurant in Long Beach, California. After three years, he became District Manager of Louise's Trattoria, managing six locations along with recruiting and training for the restaurants.

In the fall of 1996, Fieri and business partner Steve Gruber opened Johnny Garlic's, an Italian restaurant in Santa Rosa, California. A second location opened in Windsor in 1999 and a third in Roseville in late 2008. Subsequently they developed Tex Wasabi's (barbecue and sushi) in 2003 in Santa Rosa, adding a second location in Sacramento in 2007.

 

 

 

So Bachelors, Stouffers, Manager, Owner and District manager of a number of restaurants.

 

Pretty successful even before the "acting" gig.

 

All you ever or didnt want to know about Fieri.

post #21 of 28

Pretty successful even before the "acting" gig.

Merely proving once again that no matter how talented you may be, anyone can turn into an A-hole when the cameras are pointing at them.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #22 of 28

What makes him an "A-hole" KYH? I'm genuinely curious, as I've never witnessed the man snap at, mock outside of being playful, etc. He doesn't hurt people, he helps them. His show (DDD) brings exposure, and he highlights the good things he finds. How does that make him an "A-hole"?

 

Not that I have a man-crush on the guy.. I just don't see the purpose for the resentment.

post #23 of 28

Obviously we're never going to agree on this, Eastshores. But his whole demeanor and behavior pattern turns me off.

 

And the fact is, he does mock his guests and, often, the food he is highlighting. You might see it as playful. I see it as disrespect. And, as I said, within contect of the show, everything is designed to show off Guy as the center of attention at all times.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #24 of 28

I don't agree with remarks as if culinary schools are redundant. I'm a 100% selftaught amateur, but since september I'm having my very first culinary education. I'll be 61 end of this month... This is a series of lessons sponsored by the government accessable for anyone; 20 lessons cost me 180€, all in, also all ingredients. There are male and female students of all ages, the oldest is in her seventies! We work in a school equipped with a big very professional kitchen. Nothing theoretical, we are simply given an entire menu, we are divided in pairs and each pair has to make their part of the menu within a timeframe! We are assisted by a 35 year old fantastic chef who supervises and advises on the fly, teaches us cutting technique as we go, demonstrates plating suggestions etc. I can cook quite well already, but I learned so incredibly much in such short time. So, my advise is; go to a good culinary school! This will not make anyone 100% fit for a pro-kitchen, but that's never been my ambition. Oh, and we also eat all of it.

 

I thought it would be very basic for a first year, but here's the part of the menu's that I had to make so far;

- 1st lesson; quiche with leeks and Hervé cheese

- 2nd lesson; stuffed squid with orzo pasta, paprika and salmon

- 3th lesson; rack of lamb, risotto, salsify with Comté cheese, a mix of sweet potato cubes and nuts, sauce

- 4th lesson; millefeuille with banana crême patissière and caramelsauce

- 5th lesson; scampi 2 ways; with pearchutney and avocado dip

- 6th lesson (last thursday); pumpkinflan with gorgonzola and walnuts/Duo of sabayon gratins with citrusfruits and mango

And, you should see how we plate all of this. Quite professional! 

post #25 of 28

Quetex, I'm not much of a web person, so I don't know what's out there, but I figure you'll spend just as much staring at a screen as will staring at printed pages.

 

You can get valuable information from the library, you can get it browsing in bookstores, and you can get cheap books at one of my favorite venues, the used bookstore.

 

 

Books don't crash, get viruses, get too hot on your lap, or dissapear off the web overnight. But I'm an old fart and hate compukers...

 

 

Schools are important, but in N. America the focus is on the school and not on working experience.  I call this "front end loading", where you take someone with "0" cooking experience, fill up his brain with knowledge, and within a year, hope and pray that the develops the skills and practical experience he needs in a commercial kitchen.  Knowledge IS power, but so is skill and experience and niether one out-ranks the other.

 

In a perfect world Culinary schools would have a series of 3 mth courses, each one building upon the last, and at least 6-12 mths of employment in the industry between each course.  Of course, after completing each course, the student would move on to higher pay scales, assume more responsibility, and become more skilled.  And each school would offer the same curriculum, so  no one could say that students from the State of X are better trained/educted than the State of Y. But that would be a perfect world.

 

Of course the Europeans have an apprenticeship system, where someone with "0" experience starts at the bottom, goes to school one day a week for three years, all the while working, and at the end of three years is a fully qualified Cook, certified by the Federal Gov't.  But those are the Europeans, what do they know?

 

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #26 of 28

That european system seems awesome.

 

 

Personally, I think the N American school system seems very backward. Someone can spend loads of money going to culinary school, and still be completely green when they step foot in a restaurant.

post #27 of 28

One part of culinary education in Europe is indeed apprenticeship. But there's also a full time education which can be started at 14 and lasts for 6 years, plus an option for a 7th year!

Meanwhile, they have to do some stage, at first in restaurants in Belgium, the higher years go abroad, many in France.

This school is very highly valuated in Belgium and Netherland; http://www.hotelschoolkoksijde.be/item.php?itemno=2_5&lang=NL

They count the very highest number of Michelinstar owners in Europe(!!!) amongst their alumni. This is high level practical and theoretical education. They also do a daily service just like in a restaurant.

And yes, it's subsidized by the government, which allows many more to fulfill their culinary dreams.

post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 

I really like Diners D & D too as well as Guy, seem like a cool dude to me. I love all those different places and foods, makes me wanna cook.

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