Even though I’ve been out living on my own for over a year, I still find myself living off fast food and prepackaged garbage. A week ago, I came to conclusion that I’d finally put an end to that.
I needed to advertise my desire to learn from a professional chef, so I printed up a bunch of flyers to hang around Cheyenne. Not 10 minutes into hanging them up, I met this guy, Frank.
Frank asked me if I had any money, but I replied telling him I’m saving my money to pay for cooking lessons. He informed me that he used to be a top chef in Los Angeles, but he was let go from his job, because he “was too good for them.” I took his word for it; he must be really good. How lucky of me to run into him.
This is when he struck me an offer I couldn’t refuse. He would teach me his ways and all I had to do in return was let him stay at my apartment rent-free for a little while. At this time, I didn’t really care how long “a little while” was, so I accepted his offer.
Over the course of the last week, Frank taught me how to make some of his signature dishes, including, applesauce and broccoli pizza, ranch pudding, steak sauce cake, and several others. To be completely honest, they didn’t taste very good at all. But if this is what “fine dining” is like, count me in. I’m sure it’s all just about acquired taste.
Frank also stressed that it’s important to learn cooking terminology, or you’ll have no idea what you’re doing in the kitchen. He made me a Cooking Glossary of sorts. How nice of him. Below are a few terms I think are important to know for any others out there striving to become a great chef.
Sauté – Pronounced ‘sowt.’ Sautéing is the act of placing a pan upside down on top of the pan holding the food one is cooking. It’s advised to tape the pans together so they don’t slip away from each other. You’ve essentially turned your pans into a big food maraca and can proceed to make some sick beats.
Mince – A delicious after-dinner candy or chocolate. Also, on a personal note, mince chocolate chip is one of my favorite flavors of ice cream.
Flambé – Pronounced ‘flam bee.’ Flambé simply translates to ‘fire’ in French. Flambéing food means to make the ultimate sacrifice — to allow your food to cook strictly from being ignited, which will likely spread to the rest of the kitchen by the time it’s ready. This may seem like an awful idea to most people, but there’s nothing like a nice, tasty bite of charcoal. Only the most high-class individuals order their food flambéed at restaurants.
Fillet – Pronounced ‘fill it.’ Many people think filleting something means something completely different from its actual definition. Have you ever seen one of those animatronic singing fish? Not widely known, but these are actually made with a real fish. The term fillet refers to the way you ‘fill it’ with electronic circuit boards and wiring to make it properly operate. ,
Knead – Kneading is an act similar to knitting, but simply with dough. If you roll up your dough thin enough, you can knead a delicious bread sweater. The only reason you’ve never seen anyone wearing a bread sweater is because the process is so difficult to master, not even the greatest chefs in the world can finish the project. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay once described kneading as “bloody impossible.”
Garnish – To garnish a dish is to essentially decorate it to make it more pleasing to the eye. For example, you may want to garnish a slice of chocolate cake. Think about it, brown isn’t a very pleasing color, particularly with food. Maybe you prefer the color blue? Simply buy some blue paint and a paintbrush and decorate the heck out of that cake. Doing this will not only make it prettier to look at, but will also give it a bit of a “unique” taste. That’s what fine dining is all about, after all.
Anyway, Frank must have thought I was a good enough chef, and that I no longer needed his training, because he left my apartment late last night. Wherever you are, Frank, I thank you for taking me under your wing and showing me the ways of becoming a master chef. Your kindness is truly unmatched by- oh, dang it; he stole my wallet.