Setting The Scene For Braise Cooking School

Since I’m not in class this week, let me give you a little breakdown of what the Braise Culinary School classroom is like, so you can really play along at home.

First off, the textbook. Look at this tome! It is huge; full of every possible tip, trick and recipe I could ever need. (No, this won’t keep me from buying more cookbooks in the future. I have an addiction!) The classnotes reference the book, but we didn’t open it during class. The teacher gives us all we need to know live.

Textbook for Braise Culinary School

The lead teacher for the course is Dave Swanson, executive chef and owner of Braise. I’ll admit, I was tentative about working so closely with a professional chef. I think Chef Jules Parnell in my college restaurant management course scarred me for life! Dave couldn’t be further from the stereotype though. He’s funny, engaging, complimentary and answered all questions, no matter how silly, with a straight face.

Chef Dave Swanson Teaching at Braise Milwaukee

If the first class is to be like the future classes, we get a little lecture and/or demo from Dave, then we go back to our stations to practice. I’ve got a little bit of work to do to get more uniform cuts, don’t you think?

In case you are wondering, this food is not going to waste. All of our edible pieces will go towards “Family Dinner”, the employees pre-shift meal.

How to Cut a Potato

The room is set up perfectly. The lighting is great and there are tv screens for lecture and live video from the demo. Our class is small, but active, so all nine people stay standing the whole time, shuffling between our work stations and the front demo space.
How to Butcher a Chicken

The nine people in class run the gamut of ages. We only have one brave male. Everyone was very friendly once we got rolling. I honestly think we were all a little nervous. When I first got in, no one was talking. By the end of it, we were sharing butter knives like old friends. I guess wrestling with a raw chicken with a stranger will do that.

As you can see, we have official uniforms-chef’s coat, apron and hat. I just wore sneakers the first class, but might invest in chef clogs to protect my back. I forgot what it’s like to stand for so long!
Taking a Break at Milwaukee's Cooking School

Next week is part two of sauces. I’m going to have to do some homework to remember how to make the mother sauces. Those brain synapses haven’t fired in a long time. I can’t wait to start cooking truly from scratch again!

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