Stella's Culinary Boot Camp Wrap Up

Stella's Culinary Boot Camp - November 2012

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.

Carrot Puree

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).

Composed Ahi

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).

Ahi Family Style

Next, Jack and Sue offered up a delicious bacon-wonton intermezzo (below).

Bacon Wontons

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.

Fire Roasted Shrimp

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.

Chicken Satay

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).

Pork Tenderloin

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.

Duck Sausage

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. 

Beef Tenderloin

Thanks again to everyone who participated in this November's boot camp.

Stella's Culinary Boot Camp - Class Photo - November, 2012

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.

There are 14 Comments

Porkbutter's picture

What an incredible looking experience. My congradulations to all of you!

jacob burton's picture

Thanks Dave. Just to clarify though, I didn't create any of the dishes pictured above. These were all created, cooked and executed by the boot camp students. What they ended up producing was very impressive.

jacob burton's picture

@ Pericowest,


It was such a pleasure having you in the boot camp! There is definitely some things that you can only teach in person. Seeing your ability grow so dramatically throughout the week was an extremely fulfilling experience. Thanks so much for the kind words.

jacob burton's picture

What makes you think that a successful business is run out of anger? When you're angry, it means that you've lost control and you're using anger to mask another emotion (sadness, betrayal, frustration, helplessness, etc).


Ultimately, you decide what type of chef, person, employee or boss you will be.

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