The Culinary Enthusiasts Series of workshops at Red River College’s new Paterson Global Institute in the Exchange District are underway.
A few weeks ago, the inaugural session saw participants work on a French-themed menu and earlier this week we created made-from-scratch gnocchi with lemon cream sauce and mushrooms for our adventure in cooking Italian.
These first forays into hands-on cooking in the state-of-the-art facilities at RRC have set the stage for what is promising to be an entertaining and informative series of workshops. I can attest to the fact that you don’t have to be an expert; the sessions are designed for everyone who enjoys cooking and the adventure of new culinary experiences.
Our evenings start with an introduction to the type of menu items we’ll be making , with lots of tips and informative tidbits from RRC Chef, Luc Jean. After a step-by-step demo of the dish(es) we’ll be working on, the 20 participants don their green aprons and head for the commercial kitchen.
Individual workstations have everything needed to create the dish we’ve just learned about. Ingredients are carefully laid out, and after an initial flurry to get the required pots, pans and tools from the multitude of storage racks, we’re ready to start peeling, chopping, boiling, reducing, sautéing and the like. Half an hour into the exercise you’re reminded just how important timing is when it comes to cooking.
“Don’t add the butter to your lemon cream sauce until you are ready to serve it,” Chef Luc Jean tells us. “Just keep the sauce warm on the side until you’ve made your gnocchi…are your potatoes cooking? Make sure the butter just foams and doesn’t burn…have you remembered to put the lemon zest and spices into the sauce? Have you chopped your herbs and grated the cheese yet?”
His questions are the perfect prompt to keep the sequence straight and coordinated, and each effort running smoothly.
After just two classes, I’ve learned many helpful tips that will join my cooking fodder to remember, like how to perfectly peel and section a navel orange, that a great knife makes every job easier, you should always carry a practical dishtowel in your apron strings for easy access, and that cream and butter are not your enemy.
Can’t wait for what’s next up on my calendar of the International Flavours workshops – a Spanish/Moroccan evening October 29th. Many of the fall offerings are already full, so check Red River College’s culinary arts website – you’re sure to find something inspiring – and delicious!