Sep 25

CIA Advanced Boot Camp

Posted by: dolcedebbie  
Tagged in: Recipes , Celebrity Chefs

Chef Dolce Debbie at CIA

Well, after surviving the first week at the Culinary Institute of America, I was excited to be returning for the Advanced Boot Camp. This was going to be my challenge week. I have cooked my entire life, so the cooking part for me was, for lack of a better term, kind of a no brainer, just learned the “proper” way of describing what I have been doing forever. But, this week I was going to have to learn how to “fabricate” meat, poultry, fish, and……deal with LIVE LOBSTER!

Fabricating Beef
First things first, what the heck was this “fabrication” process all about. I kept hearing this word, but what exactly did it mean used in this text. Well, for those of you wondering, it means basically they bring in a side of beef for example and you have to know how to make the various cuts such as a roast, rib steak, tenderloin, etc. My first day and I have the assignment of doing lamb tenderloin. So we watch very closely our instructor, Chef David Bruno, they always make it look so easy! But I’m here to tell you that when you are the one holding that sharp knife that can either produce the most gorgeous cut of meat or the most unrecognizable cut of meat based upon the holder’s ability, it isn’t so easy! But with the guidance and reassurance of Chef Bruno, I DID IT! I managed to cut and trim a gorgeous tenderloin…from an entire loin section of the lamb. Phew, day one….survived and made an amazing lamb tenderloin as well!

Day two, chicken. Now, I grew up watching my grandmother and my mother both take a whole chicken and cut it into pieces and then typically fry it, I am from the south you know. Now, I make the best fried chicken EVER, if you don’t believe me, just ask me, I’ll tell ya, but I’ve always cheated in that I buy my chicken cut into pieces. Well, I’m here to tell you that that’s a thing of the past…yep, day two, had to cut up a chicken! Not only did I learn to take a knife to the chicken, but how to produce a chicken breast supreme…it looked so pretty with the little wing cone frenched. Did I mention the importance of a sharp knife, if you haven’t taken the opportunity to shop for a knife that fits your needs, do it, it will improve your cooking skills 10 fold!

Well, over the course of the next couple days, we saw, cut, and tasted the difference between prime beef and aged beef. I highly recommend a taste testing of this, go to your local butcher and get a sampling of each and decide for yourself which you prefer. It’s worth it! And you can’t lose with either one.

Well, day four has arrived and it’s my worst culinary nightmare…I have to cook and fabricate lobster! And yes, they started out live. If you’ve seen “Julie and Julia” then the segment with Julie preparing lobster if a pretty accurate description of that day for me. I did manage to finally toss the lobster, literally from about 10 feet from the pot, into the boiling water. Now, I must tell you that this was after being assured by Chef Bruno that there have been studies that prove that lobsters do not feel pain, and yes, I choose to believe this is true. Then I continued my education by learning how to clean it out, cut it in half, get the meat from all parts of the lobster and then I stuffed it with a mirepoix of sorts and bake it…..it really was yummy and after the initial boiling, it was fine.

Fish Smiles
For my final lesson, fabricating fish! I have always lived along the coast and have had my share of fish, but have always pretty much refused to have to touch it…well, no longer. I have now learned, again thanks to Chef Bruno, how to skin and filet fish and I have to say, not near as difficult as I thought it would be. Now for my second major achievement, I learned to shuck oysters and clams! I managed to shuck about 3 dozen oysters and only had one SMALL nick from an oyster shell! Once I managed to shuck them I made the best Oyster Rockefeller in puff pastry that I think I’ve ever had! I loved it so much I’ve made them several times since I got back home. Again, can’t stress the importance of the proper tools….makes all the difference in the world.

b I’ve been so excited about everything that I experienced throughout my time at the CIA that I have not left the kitchen except for the required grocery shopping and then those few hours needed to rest! So, if you’ve always thought I would some day love to go and experience what “real” chefs do but don’t know enough, I’m here to tell you that if you have the ability to open your eyes and ears to watch and listen to the incredible instructors the CIA offers and the desire to learn, wait no more…these guys are AWESOME! And if you’re that person who just keeps saying some day….this is your day, don’t wait any longer…today is your day, make it happen, I did and I can’t wait to go again. In fact, I’m returning in January to begin their ProChef series and certifications, come and join me, it really is what dreams are made of, well that and Disney! (<:

(photos compliments of Zimuzo Agim and Barry Frangipane)

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