Culinary Arts 1B: Finding Your Palate
Kitchen Associates - Sous Chef Career Pathway Course Units
Unit 1: The Healthy, Sustainable Kitchen
As an aspiring chef, the effort to embrace health and sustainability is important on many levels. Not only is the kitchen a culinary landscape where nutrition is created, it is also the scene of tremendous waste. That’s why a firm understanding of nutritional principles must go hand in hand with a clear sense of how kitchen ingredients and processes can be maintained and supported over long periods of time. This combination of information gives chefs the power to create delicious food while still keeping an awareness of other important factors, like the health and well-being of diners and the world.
Unit 2: Tools of the Trade
Setting up your workspace in busy professional kitchen is a lot like preparing for a scheduled natural disaster. You can never be fully prepared for it, and you never know what you are going to get—all you know is the rush is going to hit and it’s going to hit big. What you can do is be ready to make your workstation hum. The goal is to make it through the shift successfully, perhaps even enjoying the process of learning as you go. The kitchen is not always predictable and it’s not always pretty—but if you can master the use of your own tools and equipment, you will emerge from the madness in one piece. And along the way, the kitchen brigade will look out for you, help you, and hopefully share a few thoughts on how to improve your cooking game.
Unit 3: Stocks, Sauces, & Soups
There’s a secret to cooking that many people don’t know. It’s not all about the size of the pork chop or the heat of the fire. And success as a chef is not based solely on the sharpness of your knives or the creativity of your mind. While those aspects are certainly important, they don’t rule the culinary world. Instead, the true talent of a chef relies on a much smaller detail—namely, cooking technique. This skillfulness in creating the most basic dishes is the foundation of all cooking, from haute cuisine to simple burgers. When your method or approach to simple foods is spot-on, it translates into larger masterpieces in the kitchen. That’s why stocks, soups, and sauces are such a critical piece of your culinary education. As the foundation for flavor, these liquid delights are one of the first building blocks for new chefs who are looking to develop a strong skillset. And once they are mastered, the colorful, delicious landscape of food becomes even more accessible.
Unit 4: Baking: Breads, Cakes, & Cookies
The world of baking may seem vast and complicated—and maybe it is a little—but it also has a some very clear ingredients and methods. Anyone new to baking can easily set up a full-service kitchen with just nine essential ingredients and a working knowledge of how these substances fit together to create all sorts of delicious treats. Once the basic science of baking is clear, everything else is just icing on the cake.
Unit 5: Culinary Business & Entrepreneurship
We’ve talked about food as science and art; now it is time to look at it as a business. If you choose to join the kitchen brigade, you are in for a fast-paced environment, but there are a lot of different ways to incorporate yourself into the food service world outside of cooking in a commercial kitchen. Remember, the culinary arts are about taking tradition and turning it into something innovative and delicious, which is why it’s important to understand more about the current trends in food service and how they affect the industry as a whole.
Unit 6: Service, Style, & Satisfaction
When we think about the art of cooking, it’s easy to stay focused on things like ingredients, methods, and nutrition, but it’s also important to remember the culinary experience is precisely that—an experience comprised of many elements beside what’s on the menu. For diners, eating in a restaurant, especially an upscale one, offers the chance to enjoy great service while also appreciating the flavors and overall presentation of the food itself. And as a food service professional, this experience is directly linked to personal pride, expert efforts, and a dedication to positive customer relations. When it comes to culinary artistry, the areas of service, style, and satisfaction are yet another place where creativity reigns.