As warned, I took a long hiatus from my posting. After a couple months of David and me being in a constant state of flux (moving out of Radeberg, traveling around Germany, flying to the States, working at yet another fantastic week of overnight International Language Camp, packing and moving to Boston, and settling and moving in to our new apartment and lives) I am finally back and ready to post about my experiences. I hope I haven’t lost all of you attentive readers, and please do spread the word that I have returned and am planning on being just as prolific as ever! Please do excuse this long post, as I have to make up for quite a bit of lost time.
Since getting to Boston I have been incredibly busy. David and I found an apartment quite quickly, and I was lucky to find a job working at Darwin’s, a sandwich/deli and café near Harvard Square, within a week of arriving. This has been quite nice, since moving in to my first apartment and buying furniture etc. is quite a daunting task! I’ve also been able to meet some great people in a wonderful work environment.
However, the main purpose of me moving to Boston, as I mentioned, is to begin my studies in Gastronomy. This website is of course my portal to what I am interested in in the Gastronomy world. It’s where I express my ideas and thoughts about it. While I have previously written largely and almost exclusively on German and American foods and cultures, I will have to extend this a bit now to include all of my studies at Boston University. Please do not be afraid, however! I will continue to post and write about traditional German/American food issues. However, I would also like to keep you all informed about my life at cooking school. Yes, I’m currently taking a one-semester hands-on intensive cooking course taught by several of the most prominent chefs in Boston (and the world!). I’ll keep you updated on what I’m learning, including pictures of the foods I create, including this wonderful vegetarian butternut squash soup.
Disclaimer: this is not my soup, my group’s turned quite thick by the time it hit the tasting portion of our class because it had cooled off. It tasted great however, as we accidentally used chicken stock instead of water. It wasn’t very vegetarian anymore though…
The Culinary Arts Certificate Program is the first class I am taking in my master’s program. In it we have a few core chefs who teach us the basic cooking skills and traditions. In addition we have many countless guest chefs come in and teach us their recipes and techniques. It’s a wonderful experience and a great way to learn about, and network in, the restaurant/food world. We just started this week, and I’m already invested and incredibly busy with it! We spend seven hours a day at school and have quite a bit of reading to do outside of class. I am also keeping a detailed journal (aside from the blog) typing up all my notes and reactions to each day’s events.
Every day we start out with a morning of lecture and demonstration. We assemble in the demonstration room with its classic set-up of mirrors to see into the pots and pans on the stove. We learn about the history, techniques, and tips of the topic of the day and see a demonstration. This isn’t necessarily what we’ll be cooking, though it sometimes is, but it’s also a demonstration of a certain technique (like making a roux) or how to make a different recipe in the same topic (for example on sauce day our chef, John Vyhnanek, showed us a quick pesto sauce and a tomato sauce). Often times we get to eat the demonstration foods, or leftovers from the day before that we have cooked, during our lunch break.
One of eight stations in the kitchens at BU, used both for the Culinary Arts Certificate Program and the School of Hospitality Administration
The afternoons are devoted to us students (there are only twelve of us) getting hands-on practice in cooking. Each day we make around three recipes or so, depending on the length and difficulty. We learn to work in teams and sub-groups, and each team of two has a student sous chef. The sous chef meets with our executive chef, this week John, and then is in charge of delegating jobs to the rest of the students. I have yet to be sous chef – when I’m not in the kitchen I really want to be sous chef, but once class is rolling I am happy I haven’t been chosen yet. I’m not really ready for that sort of thing. Not only do you have to have control and understanding of all the recipes being cooked, but you have to be able to plan ahead and delegate jobs as well. For now I’m much happier being told what to do when.
Our stock room, larger than my whole kitchen at home!
I’m miserable at getting my mise en place set up. The mise en place is French for “put in place” and refers to the prep work. Not only the chopping and measuring of ingredients into dishes for easy use during the cooking time, but also getting all the pots and utensils needed for all of the recipes. I don’t think I’m alone, but I frequently have to go to the stock room to get this or that thing I have forgotten. Or, like yesterday, I will look under my station during clean-up and find out I’ve stored a bunch of things under there only to have used a third of it during cooking!
I’m sure this will take practice and I will be able to figure everything out and feel more comfortable in the kitchen. Right now I’m really excited to just be here, to finally be following this dream. Living in Boston, so far, is great. The weather is wonderful (I know this won’t last) and I love being close to my college friends again. I miss Radeberg and teaching, especially the friends I made while I was there. However, I have been so busy here and I feel so welcomed here that I know this is the right place for me at this point in my life. Having David here with me and sharing our adventures together makes me even more confident that this was a good decision. Stay tuned for a quick-and-easy recipe to make a traditional flat bread/pizza from Southwest Germany/Southeast France as well as my experiences broiling, stewing, butchering, roasting and garnishing food as well as meeting famous chefs!