The economy is directing people towards cost-consciousness and dining in, rather than dining out. For many of these former restaurant-goers, especially singles who live on their own, the kitchen is alien territory. Perhaps they can prep a basic sandwich, or boil a box of pasta. But needing to feed a family or guests on an ongoing basis requires a bit more creativity and skill.
For those who want to become more competent in preparing foods at home, attending a culinary “boot camp” is a very practical investment.
But what is a culinary boot camp? Simply, it is a program designed to bring like-minded people together to attain a common goal; to learn how to use kitchen tools, techniques and ingredients efficiently and with confidence.
Jesse Blonder, director of the Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) in Brooklyn, NY, has developed a series of classes titled, “Into the Kitchen: A Culinary Boot Camp for the Home Cook” for men and women, teens and adults who want to develop cooking skills and repertoire. Some already are cooking on their own but want to formalize their knowledge. Others want to broaden their repertoire, or wish to be able to entertain at home, or follow recipes correctly. Lately, callers have indicated they’d like to be able to develop creative meals on a budget.
“In your typical home kitchen, women – and men – can often feel intimidated by multi-step recipes or the need to produce multi-course meals. They are afraid of using a real knife – such as the traditional chef’s knife – for chopping,” said Blonder. “More often than not, home cooks think cooking is simply following a recipe but have no idea at all what they are really doing. They use hit-and-miss approaches, tend to over or under cook things, and don’t know how to balance flavors or use spices. They know little about selecting cuts of meat and about quality and value issues. What home cooks need is more understanding about basic cooking processes, the chemistry of cooking, and how to approach and organize their cooking lives. In culinary boot camp they learn about value and quality say, fresh fish, the use of seasonal produce, and more tricks of the trade.”
Blonder continues, “We are seeing a chronic explosion of new kallahs who have never been allowed to cook by themselves. Often, their mother took the burden off of them, thinking it was a kindness. Now, the kallah is lost when she has to prepare her first Shabbos meal.”
For future kallahs, culinary boot camp classes present an opportunity to prepare to run their new home with confidence, having gained solid information about nutrition as well as taste. They can plan their menus efficiently and economically and not be overwhelmed by hostessing.
In addition, attending the classes is a good way to explore whether one would like to train as a culinary professional, a goal that requires a much greater investment of time and money.
For more information, visit www.kosherculinaryarts.com or call 718.758.1339.