Fifty Minute Classroom

Aug 16, 2017, 10:30

50-Minute Classroom: Measuring

Why does measuring weight, volume and temperature require training? Because each measuring instrument is only as good as the person who uses it. To that end, Chef Weiner offers a primer on measuring to share with your students.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

I have been asked to give a presentation at the June 2015 Leadership Conference in Niagara Falls on the topic of how to teach basic culinary skills in 50 minutes. Before students can braise, sauté, simmer, bake, roast, poach, etc., however, they need to know the basics of knives and they need to know how to measure.

CAFÉ’s “Gold Medal Classroom” published my four-part series, “How to Buy Knives,” in October 2010, November 2010, December 2010and January 2011. This article on measuring is written as an instruction manual for your students. Please feel free to print it out and hand it to them directly.

New cooks need to learn how to measure. Although there will be many times when you will use technique and feel in cooking, you have to understand the basics of measuring and following recipes, as well. The three most common types are measurement of liquids, measurement of solids and measurement of temperature.

50-Minute Classroom: Student Training Logs

Having culinary students keep professional journals is beneficial to their learning—and eventual employment. But if that task is too daunting to your younger students, Chef Weiner proposes a simple, less-intimidating way for them to track their progress in class.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

For years I got feedback from chefs, kitchen managers and human-resources people that my students often stumbled in interviews when asked the obvious (and apparently simple) question: “So, what have you made in class?” I was told that the student being interviewed magically morphed into a deer in the headlights. For years I struggled with how to prevent this from happening.

In June 2014 my friend and colleague, Dr. Fred Mayo, wrote in his column in CAFÉ’s “Gold Medal Classroom” about the importance of students maintaining professional journals during and after their culinary educations. I concur. Unfortunately, for many vocational-level students, and for high-school students, the idea of doing this is intimidating. They need a bit more structure and guidance in order to accomplish this task.

I came up with a simple chart. (See a sample chart that follows and the downloadable MS Word attachment below.) Every day the student has to spend her or his last minute in class filling in the form. Of course, you can have your students do it less frequently if that works better for them and you. I tell the students to bring these forms to interviews. They can, if necessary, show them to the interviewer.

50-Minute Classroom: Profit and Fun With Gingerbread Houses

’Tis the season, says Chef Weiner, who among other things suggests a “Build a Gingerbread House” station to raise needed funds for programs.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

My article on teaching Thanksgiving side dishes was so well received by “Gold Medal Classroom” readers that Mary Petersen, president of CAFÉ, suggested I consider writing how to make gingerbread houses.

I toyed with this sweet suggestion (pun intended) and decided to twist it a bit. Instead of writing about how to make gingerbread houses, I am going to write how you can have fun with them, as well as possibly make some money.

First, let’s make gingerbread houses for fun.

1.Have your class make their own gingerbread houses. This is a multi-task activity that includes, among other things, baking and decorating. The easiest way to do this is to make the gingerbread pieces on one class day and assemble on the next.

50-Minute Classroom: How to Order

For newer culinary-arts teachers, ordering can seem a daunting task. But it’s really quite simple, says Chef Weiner, who suggests three basic ways to order for day-to-day teaching (while taking into consideration two common snags). His chief advice? Under order.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

This article is dedicated to the newer instructors. If you are experienced in ordering for teaching purposes, then feel free to skip this article and join me again next month.

If you are new to teaching, you have only been ordering for your class for a short time. By now you are probably banging your head into the wall, particularly if you have never ordered for a foodservice facility.

In the beginning, new chefs and instructors tend to over order. This is only slightly burdensome for non-perishables and freezer items (although sooner or later space becomes an issue). This can be a real money loser for perishable items that can’t be frozen.

WORK VERY HARD to under order. Remember, your job is to teach the students how to cook—not to feed them. If they only get a half serving (or even a taste), so be it.

50-Minute Classroom: Teaching Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Does anything scare new cooks more than gravy? And what to do when faced with a sweet potato AND a yam? Chef Weiner explains how educators can assuage students’ fears of preparing traditional Thanksgiving sides from scratch—and teach it all successfully in 50 minutes.

By Adam Weiner, CFSE

Hard to believe, the holidays are upon us. For many of your students, they learned from a young age the important lesson that love must go into the food. However, they probably watched their parents “freak out” about Thanksgiving dinner or, worse yet, watched their parents purchase canned and packaged food.

So it is your job how to teach them to make great-tasting, healthy, homemade side dishes. Here are five items that can all be easily made in one class day, or prepped on one day and finished the next.

1. Cranberry Sauce. There is absolutely nothing easier to make than cranberry sauce. Yet, almost everyone resorts to cans. If your student can boil water, he or she can make homemade cranberry sauce in under 15 minutes.

Rinse a 12-ounce package of cranberries. Add 1 cup water and ¾ cup to 1 cup sugar into a heavy pot. (Amount depends on how sweet you like the sauce.) Simmer for about 10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker the sauce. If you want the sauce smooth, just push the mixture through a strainer while it is still hot. Want to kick it up a notch? Add in diced dried apricots, lemon zest or a pinch of cinnamon, or let your mind be creative.