Stella's first culinary boot camp was an amazing time, bringing people from across the United States and Canada together with one singular goal; to become better cooks. This intensive five day course was constructed to challenge and push the students to their limits, debuting our new core curriculum, the F-STEP cooking process.
The F-STEP curriculum was designed to train the students how to think like a professional chef, not just blindly follow recipes. In fact, most of the recipes in the boot camp curriculum were changed daily and "on the fly," forcing the students to utilize their newfound understanding of flavor structure and technique.
On the last day of class, our twelve student boot camp was split up into six teams of two, with each team being responsible for creating their own unique dish as part of a six course tasting menu. This final exam required the students to go through the F-STEP thought process, thinking about Flavor, Sauce, Technique, Execution, and Preparation. Each student had to time the execution of their dish to fit perfectly within the structure of our six course tasting menu.
What the students ended up producing was nothing short of impressive, as you'll see in the photos below. All dishes and their corresponding recipes were designed, prepared and executed by the students on their final day of class, with each team being responsible for completing a composed tasting portion and a family style plate.
Cynthia and Marty kicked off our six course tasting menu with a chilled carrot-ginger puree as their amuse bouche (above). Their first course was an "ahi tartar napoleon with avocado, sesame, crispy wontons, and spicy-asian aioli" (below).
For their family style plate up, Marty and Cynthia painstakingly wrapped the wonton skins around a wooden rolling pin and deep fried them in the shape of a shot glass, which they then filled with the tartar mixture (below).
Next, Jack and Sue offered up a delicious bacon-wonton intermezzo (below).
Jack and Sue's appetizer course was wood fire roasted prawns with charred frisse and sumac (below). The bitterness of the frisee balanced nicely with the sweetness of the shrimp and was tied together by the lemon tang of the sumac, a spice indigenousness to Africa.
Darcy and Keith created a Vietnamese style chicken satay. The chicken was first brined and then sous vide, skewered with sticks of lemon grass, served with two separate dipping sauces and a refreshing rice noodle and pickled vegetable salad. The combination of the crispy, rice coating exterior with the tender, juicy interior, made this chicken absolutely delicious. Add in some fresh, South East Asian inspired ingredients and you have yourself a light and enjoyable dish.
Chris and Roger served a sous vide pork tenderloin roulade, filled with provolone cheese (first photo below). Calling it the "Cuban Ruben," this dish was a fun and unique play on a traditional flavor structure with a few twists, including home made pickles, Russian dressing and a garnish of preserved lemon rind.
Sticking with their inspired theme, Chris and Roger also offered up an "mint-mojito" intermezzo in the form of a refreshing sorbet (middle photo below).
Fred and Douglas created an intermezzo of "house made potato crisps with cucumber creme fraiche dip" (pictured bottom right, below). This cooling bite was followed by their "mexican-spiced duck sausage 'on fire,' seasonal vegetables with chipotle aioli and lime-pineapple-habanero sauce." The sausage was made with ground duck breast, formed into a cylinder using plastic wrap, and cooked sous vide. The combination of the rustic-roasted vegetables and the spiced sausage was outstanding.
The final dish was served by Eva and Mike. For their intermezzo, they offered up a "cucumber-cumin shooter with lemon and fresh mint." This was followed by a perfectly "sous vide fillet of beef with chickpea puree, sauted spinach, cucumber salsa and thyme-wine demi glace." The chickpea puree is really what made this dish. It had a smooth texture and subtle flavor that paired nicely with the full reduction demi and the perfectly cooked fillet of beef.
Thanks again to everyone who participated in this November's boot camp.
If you weren't able to make it to this boot camp, don't sweat it. We plan on doing another this spring, although we have yet to set dates. If you want to be on our early notification list, please enter your name and e-mail address in the form below.