Gold Medal Classroom

Apr 26, 2017, 20:22

50-Minute Classroom: Out of the Box

Convenience products—a reality in today’s kitchens—are actually platforms from which to create signature dishes.

By Adam Weiner

fifty_oct09For economic reasons, there are very few kitchens in the country that cook almost everything from scratch. Mixes, precooked items, packages and containers can be found in even the best kitchens. The problem with many young cooks is that they just open up the packages and cans, dump them into a pot or hotel pan, heat them, and slop them on a plate. They lose the passion for their craft. They become disillusioned and bitter, hating and then quitting their jobs.

These young cooks have not been taught that these products are not the “be all” and “end all” of their cooking. No one has taught them that convenience products are a canvas waiting to be painted with their own culinary style.

Teaching with Puzzles

Crossword and word-search puzzles can be fun, effective tools for familiarizing students with important terms.

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

We all get in a rut. Line cooks start turning out dish after dish, caring less for the quality because they have done it over and over again. Customers go to the same places and order the same thing, not because they are afraid to try something new; they are just stuck on their tracks like a street car. Teachers have the same problem, and when we do, the students turn on their I-pods and tune us out.

I am always looking for new ways to teach the same old thing. New tricks to pull out of a hat. One of the things that I have found is the very effective use of puzzles in teaching.

Occasionally, I start a class with a word- search puzzle with all of the terms I am
going to cover in the class. I end the class with a “test” of a crossword puzzle using the same terms. It is, I have found, incredibly effective. The best part is that there are many places on the Internet where you can create puzzles for free.

Teaching Presentation in 50 Minutes

One thing that separates professional cooks from their moms is how they present food. Here are five things students should remember when plating

By Adam Weiner, JobTrain and the Sequoia Adult School

Students new to cooking go through three stages of trauma. First, they worry about making enough food; second, they agonize on how the food tastes; and finally, they stress about how the food looks. Much of the presentation pain comes from most of the new generation of cooks experiencing “presentation” as bags of fast food in a car seat and “plating” by ordering at the mall’s food court.

I have found the best way to minimize the pain of the third stage is to tell students not to prepare anything until they have in their minds (or better yet, a drawing on paper) how the final plate will look.

Students think this is strange. They feel that if they start cooking, the plating and presentation will fall into place. I explain that if I asked them to build a car, they wouldn’t just pick up some screws, tires, sheet metal and glass and start hammering. They would first have a picture of the finished car. To build a car or a plate of food takes a picture and a plan.

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