When I arrived, it was still pretty chilly outside so walking into the building and being greeted by a table of coffee and tea to warm up was a wonderful welcome. While we were waiting to be called to our kitchens, we had a bit of excitement. The fire alarms went off! It seems this is not an unusual occurrence since the system is so sensitive and things to get burnt in the kitchens. Once the fire department gave us the all-clear, we were allowed to go inside and begin our day in the kitchen. Seems they are used to visiting the campus as they come armed with empty Tupperware, just in case there is some food that needs “saving”.
Our kitchen was set-up with the ingredients for each country we would be making recipes from that day – Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and China. While each group was preparing their portion of the menu, we were encouraged to walk around and see what else was going on at the other stations.
The Chef Instructor and student chefs were very helpful and gave hints and tips throughout the day. I loved how he suggested making the pork dumplings by cupping the dumpling in your hand. You then fill it and squeeze it a little to make it look almost like a pouch. We topped them with sliced shrimp and they were one of my favorite recipes of the day.
He also said that he prefers to create his own ground pork and he does it the “old fashioined” way, 2 knives! After he started chopping the meat, he gave me a chance to try it as well. It looks easier than it is – working with two knives and chopping like crazy. I wasn’t as fast as he was but enjoyed the chance to try it.
The class gave me so many helpful tips that I can’t begin to share them all here. I plan to incorporate some of the ideas into my cooking and experiment more with Asian cooking. I came home with a copy of the CIA cookbook, The Flavors of Asia, which will be a nice launching pad for playing in the kitchen.
If you ever have a chance to take a class at one of their campuses, I would definitely recommend it. After you prepare the food, you sit down to enjoy quite a feast with the other cooking enthusiasts there that day.
I came away from the class with a thirst for learning even more, and am searching for some more local cooking courses I can take until I get another fabulous gift to go back to the C.I.A.
Please note that all photos and content belong to Patsy Kreitman, unless otherwise noted. If you want to use something please ask first.