Chef at Home
Build your skills and confidence in the kitchen with classes taught by those at the top of their craft in the Edmonton culinary scene.
February 28, 2018
photography by Paul Swanson
Meat Cutting Basics
Christopher Bradshaw knows his meat. “It started at home when my family would hunt wild game. I would help them butcher when they got home,” says Bradshaw. From there, Bradshaw dove into working in kitchens and enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program at NAIT. “As I was working my way through the kitchen and gaining experience as a cook and chef, I was always drawn towards doing the prep work with cutting the steaks and getting the roasts ready for dinner service. I was at a point when I needed to make a choice to stay with my path of being a chef or go towards being a butcher,’’ says Bradshaw.
Bradshaw is now the instructor of the Meat Cutting Basics class at NAIT, which welcomes students of all experience levels. On the first day of the meat-cutting class you start with basics like different ways to grip and hold the knives and how to sharpen them. Then it’s onto filleting a whole salmon, whole chicken, pork and beef cuts. “We also discuss ways that we can minimize our waste like using bones for stock, saving the extra bit of trim from the cuts and making ground products.
Milk Steaming and Latte Art
At Transcend Coffee, you can learn how to steam milk to perfection and make beautiful drinks. Jordon Jeschke is the teacher who will help you take your latte skills to the next level. “People can expect a little nerdiness, but mainly lots of hands-on experience and fun steaming milk. The goal is to help people steam delicious, shiny milk and then begin building the skills needed to pour latte art,” he says.
To achieve latte art, it’s all about pouring at the right height, speed and angle.
According to Jeschke, most people believe that you draw the pictures using foam, but it’s more like foam is falling out of the pitcher and catching on the surface of the coffee. Think physics-based rather than art-based.
If you’re interested in trying latte art, get in line. There are only three to a class for the Milk Steaming and Latte Art. The course has sold out every month so far.
For Tricia Sullivan, working in the baking industry was always a dream of hers. “My grandmother owns a bakery in Northern Ireland, so she taught me things like lemon squares, potato bread, shortbread and tea cakes. When I came back to Canada, I looked for any pastry classes I could take while working,” says Sullivan. Fast forward to her current role at Duchess Atelier, where macarons reign supreme.
“Macarons are notoriously difficult for home bakers. In Macaron Basics, we discuss reasons why they fail and provide tips on how to set yourself up for success,” says Sullivan. Students learn the technique of making macarons, including how to recognize the perfect batter consistency. “I think the most surprising tip is that your ingredients, mainly almond flour, can change your batter consistency. We use very fresh almond flour milled for us in California, it’s fine and fluffy, which works great for our recipe,” says Sullivan.
For Sullivan, the most rewarding part of the class is when she sees students have the knowledge and belief that they can go home and re-create macarons in their own kitchens. The macaron basics class ends with a sweet reward — about a dozen macarons to take home.
Cut Like A Chef
Understanding how to use a knife can make a huge difference in the kitchen. At Knifewear, Kristopher Armitage is keeping things on point with his Cut Like a Chef class. The class covers everything from how to hold a knife properly, knife safety, how to create classic cuts, developing knife speed and increasing precision.
Armitage says one of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to sharp knives is that they’re scary and intimidating. “They’re actually much safer. You actually want to slide more than push because you get less resistance. A dull knife requires much more force, often leading to accidents. A dull knife has a bit of a mind of its own, but a sharp knife will go where you tell it to.”
Date Night Cooking For Two
Kathryn Joel held the first Date Night class back in September 2014 at her Get Cooking culinary school. Doreen Prei then joined Get Cooking and the pair launched it as a regular feature class.
“When we talk about couples, we don’t necessarily mean life partners. It could be your parent visiting from out of town or sibling. It gives us a great opportunity to share our passion for food with the people who bring someone to share the same,” says Prei.
Typically, the Date Night menus are driven by the season and what ingredients are available locally at the time. The class consists of four courses. Curried squash soup with crispy duck wontons, parmesan risotto with house smoked cod or beef Wellington could be on the menu.
This date night class is a shared experience. Participants can cook or simply observe, based on their comfort levels, interact with one another around the Chef’s Table, and eat at one communal table. This class can be an opportunity to get to know a community of new people and share a love of food.
“Our hope with all of our classes is to create a memorable experience in a convivial atmosphere focused on the pleasure of cooking together, and sharing food,” Joel says. “So hopefully our guests go home with the memory of a special night out, as well as the know-how to re-create what they cooked with us together, at home.”
This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.