I recently began teaching an advanced pastry class for the culinary art students at Johnson and Wales Denver (JWU). I am totally loving it, but the topic and group posed a few new challenges to my usual cooking demonstration approach. For instance…
- This is a lab for chefs who are unfamiliar with pastry art and the discipline of exact measures and procedures.
- There are only 9 days to teach all the lessons they need.
- Most of the audience is made up of innovative and visual young people who don’t want to sit for hours of lectures.
- The restaurant industry itself has leaped ahead of classic culinary art instruction. Social media and the Food Channel have enabled massive idea sharing and trends (like molecular gastronomy) that have to be considered.
I wanted my class to feature traditional preparations and skills but still be relevant for chefs, inspiring them while educating them about what is going on in the industry. I am thrilled to be in a facility that allows the students to do so much cooking.
But how do I meet the challenges?
- I have divided the classes into 8 major lessons about skills that my students absolutely need to know.
- We are taking a tour of highly successful Michelin-starred restaurants and highlighting their desserts each day.
- The students will research the restaurants and find desserts they like. From there, they will design a final project that can be done in our classroom.
- Each session features an inspirational photo, then a video, followed by hours of lab work with “pop up” demos.
- We plate everything we make. This allows hands-on creativity and it develops confidence.
So far, my approach has been successful. My students came up with amazing plates using nothing more than fruit, crème Chantilly, and almond lace cookies on their very first day!
I am looking forward to the fall, when I can develop some demos for healthful cooking using the same techniques that I have implemented in my course at JWU.
By Chef Judy Doherty, PC II
Stephanie Ronco has been editing in a professional capacity for the past 10 years. In addition to her work as an editor, Ronco has also served as a ghostwriter and writing tutor. A voracious reader, Ronco loves watching language evolve and change. When she’s not delving into her latest project, Ronco can be found teaching acting classes, performing in community theater, or sailing with her husband.