Culinary Arts Project

Learning by Teaching, and being called “Chef” all evening – Day 64


  • Skate is a unique tasting seafood (think fish meets scallop), but goes bad fast. They urinate through their skin (like sharks), so they start to smell like ammonia pretty quickly – served fresh, seared, they taste pretty amazing.
  • To evenly brown croutons, soak them in clarified butter and then sauté and shake constantly – this will prevent one side being dark brown than the other. (from Erik)
  • Use powdered sugar in your whipped cream – this creates a smoother whip than if you used granulated sugar.

Today was the first flip-flop day. One half of the class was now doing the skate and apple tart, and the other was now doing the pork and consommé. This meant that we were all standing across from someone who was first doing the dish we knew really well, and we were working for the first time on dish across from someone who knew it well.

Miyako and Vitor butter baste their pork.
Miyako and Vitor butter basting their pork.
Starting to fillet my skate
Starting to fillet my skate
Mandatory flambee pic.
Mandatory flambee pic.

This meant that we were each giving and receiving pointers to each other all day. It was fantastic. The chef had hardly anything to do because all the students were helping each other. That doesn’t mean we all did a perfect job, in fact today was a minor disaster for me. I prepared my apple tart dough and had just put my compote (apple filling) on the stove when the chef summoned us to the front to demo how to fillet the skate. By the time I got back to my station my compote was burnt. This happened to several of us. Having to suddenly re-make the compote put me in panic mode, which quite frankly I didn’t recover from for the whole day. I got my skate filleted, seared, and covered with a brown butter sauce (with lemon supremes, capers, lemon juice, parsley), but I totally forgot the croutons I had made (twice) earlier, and I was late by 3 minutes. My tart was well browned, and the crust was ‘excellent’, but my apricot glaze had been applied a little to late so it had started to gelatinize. I was not happy with the day, but it was fun getting and receiving pointers from classmates.

After class I had an amazing time volunteering for the James Beard Foundation at a food/jazz event at the Lincoln Center. First, I had the unusual experience of being called “chef” all evening – it’s amazing what happens when you don a chef’s uniform. At one point in the evening one of the stations was short of water, so I said I’ll get it for them from the kitchen of the center’s restaurant. So I walked through the Dizzie Gillespie restaurant – half way through a couple approached me and said “Chef, we just wanted to say how wonderful the food is here”. I said that was fantastic, thanked them, and then quickly walked into the kitchen and told the real chef the story.

Joanne getting her pork assessed.
Joanne getting her pork assessed.

After a bit of a slow start to the evening, the volunteer coordinator shouted “they need help over there at Mokbar, the Korean Ramen Bar”, and suddenly I was back in panic mode. The owners of Mokbar quickly showed me how to plate their dumplings and fried cucumber dishes, and it was off to the races. It was particularly frantic because a) these were most popular dishes of the event, and b) the induction burners blew the fuses, so there was all sorts of re-cabling to be done, and all of sudden we were behind again. All in all it was a lot of fun, and I learnt a bit about Korean food (see main pic of Stewart and the gang at Mokbar).

Backstage at the Lincoln Center during a sound check
Backstage at the Lincoln Center during a sound check

It’s MLK day Monday, so we have a three day holiday. Have a great weekend everyone!

2 replies on “Learning by Teaching, and being called “Chef” all evening – Day 64”

I might have fluked out on the skate, but it worked pretty well for me. It didn’t hurt having been watching you guys for the past three days doing it. Have a great weekend.

You are amazing Chef Stewart! I cannot believe you were able to fillet the Skate so well on Day 1. Did you see mine when I first did it? Chef Pascal said he would not even serve it to his dog :)

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