Greetings! Quick FYI: this post’s title reflects that today was “Level I, Week 1, Day 1″ of my training at 105degrees. Capische? Until/unless I decide to name posts more creatively, this is how each one will be titled.
Now, on to RAW CHEF SCHOOL!
Arriving at 8am, I was greeted by Level I instructor Russell James, and given my ill-fitting-but-still-snazzy chef’s coat.
The training room of the Academy is, like the rest of 105degrees, clean and bright, thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows running along the side of the building. Appliances and sinks line another wall, and here’s the third wall, full of wheatgrass and bananas.
The fourth wall holds shelves of glass containers filled with all manner of tasty, intriguing, and colorful ingredients.
Each of us (only four today, but all seven students should be present in the next day or two) received our own chef’s knife, paring knife, and knife bag. Much of the early part of the day was spent on knife skills, and here I got a bit of a rude awakening: I am apparently not very good with a chef’s knife! I seemed to take longer than the others in perfecting my baton, dice, julienne, and brunoise cuts, mostly because I seem to have a hell of a time slicing the edges off a carrot into a perfect square shape. (Mine kept ending up as retarded trapezoid-looking thingies.) I know I can’t be too hard on myself…I’ve been using a large Santoku-style knife at home for 2+ years, so it feels quite different to handle a chef’s-style knife. Being the perfectionist that I am, though, it frustrated me quite a bit. I did much better with basil, red peppers, and onions; it’s those damn carrots that are my nemeses! But hey, I have 8 weeks ahead of me in which to master knife skills, right? Right.
Luckily, Russell’s quite patient, and he never rushed us through anything.
My other issue was with the mandoline slicer, and/or beets. I don’t have a mandoline at home and haven’t used one in years, AND I’m not a big fan of beets, so slicing beets ON a mandoline was a little laborious. In the end, though, my beet ravioli wrappers wound up looking pretty nice, and my pistachio-pine nut pesto was delicious (if I may say so!).
We topped our pesto filling with more paper-thin beet slices, and finished our ravioli with some oregano-pignoli cream.
So, despite the day’s earlier vexations, my work was rewarded with a great-looking AND -tasting platter of raw ravioli. Maybe I don’t dislike beets after all!