Sunday, October 01, 2006

California Culinary Academy Class

Yesterday I taught my first class at the California Culinary Academy. I must say that it was an interesting day. It started out by my meeting up in the parking lot near the CCA with my sort-of former brother-in-law chef who was also wearing red clogs. He was judging a Pellegrino water cooking competition which actually sounded like more fun than what I was doing.

I hauled my butt and a box of books over to the school which is housed in an older San Francisco building near the Civic Center.

I met my class of 13 in the basement dining room and we all got into the elevator and went up to the 4th floor kitchen. It's always a bit strange to teach in a new kitchen but this one had even more eccentricities, it seemed. I had to ask for every piece of equipment which I didn't know so I kept my student assistant Kate, very busy. She did a great job.

My students consisted of a 13-year old who had taken 51 classes at the CCA, someone who had not really cooked at all (they worked together which was great), a few mother-daughter pairs and other repeat CCA students. We had a great time, or at least I did.

A young couple Hansa and Sami worked on the Tomato Basil Tart with a Toasted Pine Nut Crust. They made the dough, rolled it out and put in the refrigerator to chill. I was checking on their progress so walked over to the frig with them. "How long has the dough been in?", I questioned. Simultaneously I heard 3 minutes from Hansa and 6 to 7 minutes from Sami.

I laughed, hard. "I guess that you have a difference of opinion," I said. Hansa told me that they often have a different perspective. I told them that it's most likely because he has a Y chromosome and she doesn't. The scene was classic.

Upon further reflection, I realized that something as simple as how long an item has been refrigerated can be tested against reality with a tool such as a timer. That would eliminate any confusion. But still there are likely to be perspective differences between people that cannot be pasted against reality as a guideline. And that's why I can give large groups the same recipes to prepare and end up with varying results. There's individual variation, perception and the creative factor. I'll chalk most of the differences up to the latter, although some are far too creative for me. That's saying a lot.

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