It’s time. Yes, it’s time for my next food related challenge. This clean eating thing has been eye opening to say the least, but I am excited to add some things back into my diet. Actually, the clean eating challenge taught me how to ADD more variety to my shopping cart vs. take away. I now know ways to enjoy lentils, whole wheat pastry flour, and beet greens. Also, I learned to love maple syrup as a sweetener for some baked goods. I’ll keep hard-boiled eggs, Angelic Bakehouse breads, and homemade salad dressing in the fridge, but will probably let the stevia products go. Risotto, white rice, and the occasional chocolate cake made with white flour and granulated sugar will be back in my repitoure, but I’ll try to keep them all to a minimum. Or at least surround them with greens and beans. I didn’t reach my goal, but did lose weight throughout the summer. Just a few more pounds to go, but a lot has been learned. I’ll take it!
But anyway, back to today’s topic, my next challenge. You guys, I’m SOOOO excited for fall this year. I always like that back to school feeling, but this year I’m going back to culinary school!! No, I’m not investing in yet another degree, but I am jumping into a three-month long program at Braise Culinary School here in Milwaukee.
This hands-on ten-week course covers the fundamentals of cooking and baking as well as menu planning and wine pairing. Each student will receive a culinary textbook, chef coat and apron as well as the option to purchase a basic knife kit from Fein Brothers. The class will culminate in a graduation dinner where we will create a four course meal with the chefs of Braise for our friends and family. I get two tickets to the event on Sunday, November 16th. Of course Randy gets first dibs, but who else wants to be there? Talk about an awesome final exam!
I took two cooking classes as part of my hospitality management degree at USC. All I remember from those classes is how to make goat cheese grits (fantastic) and how chicken nuggets are made (disgusting). I was such a goober that I cooked enough turkeys for my whole sorority the year I took the first cooking class. I mean, how often do you have a wall of six ovens at your disposal at Thanksgiving time? (Still, what was I thinking?! Food nerd alert!)
As happens with all college courses, most of what was learned there is long gone from my noggin. I can’t wait to learn from Braise’s owner, Dave Swanson and pastry chef, Molly Sullivan. Dave was trained at some of the best culinary schools around, including Le Cordon Bleu in Paris before working at infamous restaurants all around the country. After time at well known restaurants like the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans and Sanford’s here in Milwaukee, Dave opened a RSA (restaurant supported agriculture) program, a cooking school, and now Braise restaurant, one of the area’s best, all of which celebrate local ingredients.
I pretty much want to be Molly when I grow up, never mind that she’s younger than me. She did her culinary degree specifically in baking and pastry and has worked all over the west coast and Midwest. In addition to doing detailed pastry work for Braise (and managing their cooking school), Molly has a side business, Miss Molly’s Pastries, doing desserts for events big and small. She too focuses on local ingredients and from scratch recipes. I mean, seriously girl… This life sounds amazing!
The semester starts with basics like knife skills and sauce making and get to more intricate things like pasta, breads, and (of course) pastry. For as much as I love to play in the kitchen, my skills could really use some improvements. I can’t dice an onion into uniform pieces to save my life and the few times I’ve tried to make my own pie crust, it has left me with dry mouth and a need to purchase the grocery store’s version. The Normandy Beef Stroganoff I mentioned yesterday? Yeh, that would have been much better had I known how to cook a flank steak without charring the outside before the inside stops mooing. Oops. This class should help all that.
Braise’s mission is to reconnect people with their food through teaching and advancing community-based food issues, aiming to work beyond sourcing local foods by advocating larger sustainable principles, so I suspect we will also get some life lessons, too. Dave’s motto is “reconnecting people with their food.” I can get on board with that philosophy.
Class meets every Wednesday from September 10th through November 5th from 6 – 9 pm with four optional Saturday labs going even further in-depth on specific topics. Yah for grown-up activities and education!
I’ll give you a weekly updates about the class here on the blog if you’d like to play along at home, but I’d love to have you join me. There are still a few spots left, but you need to act fast. To register, just follow this link. Tell them I sent you and maybe we can share an oven. I’ll supply the turkey.
Now excuse me while I go geek out on school supplies. Yah!
*Braise Culinary School is sponsoring my attendance through a scholarship in exchange for pictures and social media marketing. All trade secrets are theirs, but the opinions expressed in these posts are my own.*