The 10 Incredible Tips I Learned In One Chef School Class.

I’m not a chef but I did go to chef’s school for a day.  And in one day I learned A LOT. Here are the 10 most incredible tips I learned.

The Stratford Chef School is one of the most respected chef schools in Canada. I looked into going to it once or twice.  Three times at the very most.  But it’s a 2 level course that each take 16 weeks, so I’d have to live in Stratford full time, which is an hour and a half drive away from my house.  Like, I’d have to move there.  Without my chickens.

Not that living in Stratford would be a hardship, it’s a stunning little town (hometown to the Beebs – Justin Bieber), but I don’t really have any need to go to to chef school other than for fun.  Even if it is a pretty town.

And if I’m going to spend $17,000 on fun, it’s probably going to involve tattoos and a blindfold.  Either that or a new chicken feeder.

So a couple of weeks ago when I ran into an old friend who graduated from the Stratford Chef school  and he mentioned that they run individual classes, both beginner and advanced, I had booked a class with my sister by that night and was sitting in the course within 2 days.

Fried chicken anyone?

I have an uncommonly weird obsession with figuring out how to make the most perfect version of the most basic foods;  fried chicken, pizza, potato salad, that sort of thing.  So when I saw there was going to be a class in making fried chicken in two days I HAD to sign up. It would have been irresponsible not to.

Imagine my elation when I got to the course and discovered we were ALSO GOING TO LEARN A NEW POTATO SALAD RECIPE?!  If you can’t imagine my elation, I’ll describe it for you.  I opened our class handout, read we were doing a potato salad, stood on the stainless steel counter,  knocking my head on the very long handle of a saute pan in the process, and declared “WE ARE MAKING POTATO SALAD TOO!  I AM ELATED.”  So there you have it. Elated.

I’m not sure what I was expecting to get out of this course, but it wasn’t the recipes that I walked away thinking about so much as the techniques.  That’s the thing about cooking no one seems to pay enough attention to.  The technique you use is just as important as the ingredients.

Take meatballs for example.  If you’re too violent when you form them and you mash those balls with a vengeance, pummelling them into round little balls of submission – they’re going to be dense and icky.  Roll them too wimp-like and they’ll have  no structure. They’ll be mushy.

You need to have the right technique to make them just perfect.

Fish Pedicure and I hopped in her weirdly silent hybrid car and took off for Stratford.

Now, I should say that her takeaway from this class were very different than mine.  Her one big takeaway was, and to quote her, “There is such a thing as too much butter in a biscuit”.

We shall disagree on that point.

I’ve put together a list of the 10 best takeaways I took from my chef school class courtesy of The Stratford Chef School (no, not a sponsored post, just a shout out) and Chef Eli Silverthorne.

 

10 Incredible Tips I Learned at Chefs’ School

(even though I am not a chef)

  1. If you’re making a brine you normally  have to boil the water to get the salt to dissolve then wait for the solution to cool to put your chicken in.  Instead use only 1/4 of the water in your brine solution, and freeze the other 3/4s of the water.  At the end of the boil, pour the hot brine over the frozen water and  you have instantly cool brine that’s still in the original proportions.   ex. For a 4 cup brine, use 1 cup of water to boil and freeze the other 3 cups.

2. Taste bud temperature is 135. That’s the optimal temperature for food.

3. To mix biscuits throw OUT your spoon.  Stretch your fingers to the bottom of the mixing bowl and simply lift the ingredients up. Do this a few times and you’ll have perfectly mixed, light, fluffy biscuits.

4. FREEZE biscuits before cooking them and cook from frozen. This prevents flat biscuits. It makes a HUGE difference.

5. Like making potato salad?  Mix in the dressing while the potatoes are hot.  Do NOT cool the potatoes first.  The heat allows the flavours to absorb right into the potato instead of just sitting on top.

6. When you break down a whole chicken, remove the wishbone first. It’s the thing holding everything together.

7. If you’re cutting in the right places, a whole chicken cuts apart easily. You should be right in the middle of the joints not through bone. It shouldn’t take very much pressure at all.  When in doubt, follow the MAP the chicken actually gives you for breaking it down … the fat lines.  If you aren’t sure where to cut, follow the fat lines, they’ll show you where to go.

8. Those bubbles that go crazy when you put something into a deep fryer is actually the water escaping from whatever you’re cooking.  The water is being vaporized by the oil.  Those bubbles also mean your food isn’t absorbing a whole lot of oil, the water is pushing it away.  When the bubbles start to stop then either the temperature in the fryer has dropped too low or your food is cooked (and has no more water to release)

9. Wearing an apron? Tuck a tea towel into the back where you tie it up so it’s always on hand.  (not in front where it’s more convenient I assume because it’s also less likely to go up in flames if it slips and gets too close to a gas burner)

10. Cook deep fried chicken at 360 degrees Fahrenheit until it comes to 178 if you’re a food safety inspector, or 168 if you’re a chef. There seems to be some discrepancy between the two types of people.

 

 

I had never made fried chicken until the week before I took this class.  In that week, I made fried chicken 3 times.  Then of course there was the class in fried chicken and the leftovers of fried chicken we got to take home.

Suffice it to say I’ve still haven’t had my fill of fried chicken.  Or buttery biscuits.

Nothing to do this weekend?  Go out! Take a class.  Learn something. Have fun. Eat butter.

Have a good weekend!

→Follow me on Instagram where I often make a fool of myself←

 

55 Comments

  1. Lorrie Jamieson says:

    Are you going to supply the recipe for those biscuits for us? They look absolutely delicious!!!

    • Tina says:

      I agree…where’s the recipe? They’d be perfect for breakfast!

    • Karen says:

      I’m afraid not. :/ The Stratford kitchen is a non profit chef’s school so I wouldn’t want to share their recipe. ~ karen!

      • Ruth Hirsch says:

        This year I needed a cuppa buttermilk for something–oh yes, Irish Soda Bread. And that usually means a run to a shop and 3 cups leftover, and in a household not so good with very much dairy.

        My discovery was: Powdered Buttermilk. AM I the last one to discover?? I now have two packs of Powdered Buttermilk in pantry, (made Irish Soda Bread 2x–my first x ever.)

        And as a person living below your border, I/we cringe. Of course the damage is largely to other people who are losing Healthcare, homes,
        livelihoods, and now, their families. Many down here–maybe up there too– are still in shock at the horror that is happening.

        My solution: re-join the Commonwealth, then we could call another election/vote of No Confidence.
        After that we could again secede.

        Karen many many many thanks for more-than-ever needed laughs,
        ruth

  2. Suel Anglin says:

    I love big kitchens, I’ve worked and volunteered in many of them. Where else can you mix delicious ‘tater salad in a bus tub? As a southern boy from the Blue Ridge, that picture of the fried chicken made my mouth and eyes water…I am curious about the coating; flour, salt, pepper? The biscuits, hmm, they look like what we would call spoon bread. Still very appetizing!

    On a side note, please know that most of us down here love all of you up there. The next time you see the PM, please offer our apologies and good will.

    • Martina says:

      Thanks! We appreciate the support…🙂🇨🇦🇨🇦

    • Grammy says:

      Thank you, Suel, for your last paragraph. I think Karen knows that we here south of the border love our neighbors, and have appreciated her kind comments to us in the past. But even if she knows it, it’s still good to say it every once in awhile.

      Do tell your PM that we love him, Karen. You could also mumble something about a little lust thrown in there, too, if you think it wouldn’t offend him or his missus.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Suel! Yes, just your basic buttermilk batter. We learned all about buttermilk too and how it tenderizes because of the acidity in it. And yes, we Canadians know that not everyone in America is out to get us. ~ karen!

  3. DLMcL says:

    So for that $17,000.00 worth of fun that is not a chicken feeder – would that be tattoos on him and a blindfold on you – or?

  4. Tracy says:

    No, no…it’s suppose to be 100 Incredible Tips I Learned in One Chef School Class. Where’s the other 90? Chef Silverthorne won’t mind Ü I get it…….take the class. How fun!! I kept waiting to read a tip and proudly say “I knew that….I knew that” and it never happened Ü  I’m hoping it will be permissible for you to share some of those gorgeous looking recipes in the future.   My mouth is watering already.

    • Karen says:

      Yes it seems everyone is glomming for the biscuit recipe, lol. Maybe I’ll text him and ask if it’s O.K. ~ karen!

      • Carolyn Woods says:

        Looks like Sunset’s Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits.
        Secret is 1) keep everything cold and 2) leave butter in big chunks

  5. Susan says:

    Well it looks like I am not the only one who wants to know…..
    When you are going to give us the butterie biscuit recipe.

  6. Melanie says:

    17,000 is a bit steep, it’s true, but I sneeze on an hour and a half commute each way. And if there is any non-concrete scenery, you’re laughing. But if you don’t have to or don’t yearn to, then yeah, screw it, hug a chicken and bake a pie.

    • Karen says:

      Yes, I used to commute to Toront (often 3 hours EACH way). But the classes run into the night upwards of 12 hours a day. So it just wouldn’t be possible to commute. ~ karen!

  7. maggieb says:

    3, 4, 5, 7 & 9 I knew, but NO 1!?!?! What an incredibly simply neat solution! Jaw drop! Slap the forehead obvious! I love learning, and you never fail, Karen, in providing, necessary, good to know, or isn’t this world amazing snippets of information in every article. Thank you once again. PS your photograph of the white currants in the crock on Instagram is sublime. Enjoy the chicken, salad and biscuits. Are you allowed to share the recipes?

    • Karen says:

      I’m guessing no (at least I didn’t share them out of respect for the school) but I’ll ask.) 🙂 ~ karen!

  8. Ev Wilcox says:

    Wonderful sensible tips! They are going straight into my gigantic recipe file. The cooking frozen biscuits tip is great-but how hot, how long, how much butter, etc! Thanks for the post and the photos!

  9. Dana says:

    Oh all that looks so delish! I make fried chicken but usually skinless thighs or chicken tenders. I could easily become a vegan as long as it meant still eating fried chicken and bacon. Theres no way I can live without those, and butter, and cream, and cream cheese, and any cheese in general, and milk, and eggs, and everything else loaded with fat, pretty much. 🤣

    • ecoteri says:

      Dana, rather than a Vegan, it sounds more as if you could be like me: I proudly claim to be a pecto-pollo-lacto-ovo-vegetarian. Essentially, I don’t eat mammals. however there is a wee bit of flexibility around bacon – bacon is a guilt-free pleasure, on occasion (and I usually only want to taste a tiny bit).
      Funny, what we choose to eat or not, eh? It has been 40 years that I haven’t eaten ‘red’ meat, and there have been various food fads I have followed for stretches of time, but the biggest lesson I have learned for ME is that it is my body, my choice, and I am allowed to be flexible.
      That fried chicken and potato salad looks delish…

  10. Ev Wilcox says:

    Oh, I forgot to say “Sorry”. We here in America love and respect Canada. You know what the “sorry” is for. Don’t get me started. At least for me, I can leave this mortal plane knowing I did NOT vote for “IT”. Love, Ev

  11. Nicole says:

    Cook from frozen! Wow, gotta remember that. And then clear some space in the freezer. 😀 These are great.

  12. Marilyn says:

    Yummy

  13. Gayle says:

    Oh, Fun! People often ask, “How do you know that?” Food Preparation 101, required study at Michigan State University for more than culinary students and hotel/motel managerial students. It was amazing how many fields of study required this class as a prerequisite. Ton of fun–like when the guys had to cook tongue during our unit on braising! That day, I got the pork chop. 😊

  14. Su says:

    Brilliant. Making potato salad today for tomorrow. Thanks for sharing 😊

  15. MindyK says:

    I have a day dream that there is a winery in Italy that will both teach me to cook and let me read while sitting among their grapevines. Since that’s an even worse commute than your cooking school—and I would have to learn Italian—you have inspired me to investigate local classes. Thanks for the push!

  16. I want that biscuit recipe! Those look incredible.

  17. I am fortunate to live in Charlottetown, PEI, home of the Culinary Institute of Canada. And I edit a food digest called Salty (saltyisland.com), and in that capacity I have been helping create cooking videos at the Institute. Each month I get so many new tips just from being around our chef! I love it!
    The Culinary Institute also offers bootcamps for interested folks, so if you’re in this neck of the woods (rather than close to Stratford), check them out.

  18. Peggy Grobmyer says:

    Love the tips! Even though I am a good southern girl, I love learning ways to improve my fried chicken. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Teresa says:

    “Too much butter”
    Hahahahahaha

  20. Alice says:

    A friend of ours brought an amazing potato salad to a potluck. She dresses it with a simple oil/vinegar vinaigrette when warm, then adds mayo when it’s cool. Delish!

  21. Tarra says:

    I dunno Karen those salad potatoes should have been cooked in the instapot. Totally agree that big lunk of a machine has limited uses; potatoes for salad/grill basket/fried is one of them. Beets too

    • Karen says:

      Ha!! Funny, we actually talked about the Instapot at the class. The instructor wasn’t a big fan either, lol. ~ karen!

  22. MaryAnne says:

    Looks like a wonderful experience! I just looked up the school and signed up for the newsletter. Although I live in the US in the South, my husband and I are retired and love to travel. I am adding the town of Stratford and the cooking school to my “got to do” travel list!! Thanks!

  23. Ann Patton says:

    I must also send my love and apologies to all Canadians–the USA’s BEST FRIEND and BEST NEIGHBOR–for the travesty that is happening thanks to our president. So embarrassed and ashamed and hurt by this. Just glad to say I didn’t vote for him and pray for the day all this will be over and we can have some measure of peace in the world again. God bless Canada and all Canadians!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for your friendship. I am proud of your (gorgeous) PM and others taking a stand.

    • Lynn Johanson says:

      Amen!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Ann! Although I must say there are a lot of Art of Doing Stuff readers who are Republicans. I have nothing against Republicans and in truth think their economic strategies are usually pretty sound. I divert from them in terms of social issues of course. However. Try as I might. There’s nothing good I can say about Trump. And it does indeed worry me that so many people, desperate for change, have been duped into believing the things he says. As someone in the media (prior to my blogging career) I am especially troubled by his insistence that any news outside of Fox news is “fake news”. Just a look at the multitude of news outlets online from around the world proves the opposite is true. :/ ~ karen!

      • Claudia Clarke says:

        Wow, interjecting politics into this entertaining and informative article is so unnecessary. What a shame you and others feel the need to do this regardless of the subject matter. Politics has -0- to do with Sue’s humorous article. This was my very first article I read after signing up. How disappointing.

        • Claudia Clarke says:

          I meant Karen not Sue. I didn’t realize you were the same person that writes the articles. My mistake.

  24. susang says:

    WOW! love the tips. will you be taking more one-day classes for us? 100% agree – love Canada and i’m sorry about the recent problems we are causing. a bit late but a big thank you for your hospitality after 9/11. popping over at least 2-3 times a month just to spend a few dollars but not bring anything back. I won’t support the tariff.

  25. Dale R Lacina says:

    So now I have to clean my garbage bin before I make a good potato salad. Gotta do it like the chef do. Side question, did the chef(s) in the class swear like Gordon Ramsey? I feel that when I am in a restaurant waiting for my meal I’m getting jipped if there aren’t obscenities coming from the kitchen!!

  26. Kristin Ferguson says:

    I always wear my towel on the front. So much handier. It has never gone up in flames, knock on wood.

  27. Beth says:

    May I also add a plea for the biscuit and potato salad recipes? And any other one that Chef cares to share…. I also want to add apologies for the incredibly boorish behavior from T and his cohort that Canada and Canadians have been subjected to. It seems that nary a day goes by without some new and stunningly awful behavior on their part. However, I am reasonably certain that making those luscious biscuits would soothe the soul. Just an idea to further world piece, one biscuit at a time.

  28. Beth says:

    By the way, have you ever used Penzey spices? I have for years and really like their products along with their belief that cooks spread culture and love from all corners of the world. (Yes, another shameless plea for the biscuit recipe.). http://www.penzeys.com

    • Karen says:

      No! I’ve never heard of Penzey spices. I’ll have a look. Maybe we don’t have them in Canada. ~ karen!

  29. Devon says:

    Fantastic tips, thank you! (And is there a story behind #9?!). You’re inspiring, and I appreciate you so much.

  30. Sarah McDonnell says:

    Here is a “No Compete” biscuit recipe”
    2c plus 1/2 c White Lily self rising (or any low protein, soft red wheat, low gluten flour)
    1 c full fat cultured buttermilk, chilled. Cruze Farm brand is awesome.
    1/2 c butter. Actual lard may substitute for half. It’s hard to find. Frozen, either way
    Preheat to 450degrees
    Sift 2 c flour. Cut butter/lard into tiny bits or grate with a box grater. Pinch and fluff the butter into the flour until bits are unevenly the size of M&Ms. Make a well in the middle, add buttermilk. Mix until it is a sticky mess. Freeze for about 15 minutes. Roll or press dough onto a board dusted with part of the remaining flour. Fold in thirds, like a letter going into an envelope. Roll or press out again and envelope fold one or two more times. Use a floured cutter ( or glass, or recycle a well-washed used can as a cutter) to cut out biscuits. Avoid twisting the cutter so biscuits don’t fall. Freeze. Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes.

  31. D Peterson says:

    Here is a link to very fast and easy biscuits to make. I am sure that they are no where as good as biscuits with “too much butter” but if you need something really fast these work, and you can slather butter on after baking. I prefer the version with the eggs.
    https://gramma-d.blogspot.com/2010/12/blog-post.html

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