The Culinary Institute of America is a premier culinary college for the food industry. It is located in Hyde Park, NY, right along the Hudson. Every semester, they offer “chef enthusiasts” the opportunity to take a class there on the weekend. They have several Saturdays available each semester with courses that cover baking, cooking and even knife and food preparation techniques. The sessions are from 9:30 – 2:30 and include a continental breakfast, a CIA apron and lunch.
My sister and I have been fortunate enough to take a few of the baking classes but this past Saturday we ventured into cooking with a class called “Delicious Vegetables.”
We arrived around 8:45 and reported to the dining area at Roth Hall. There was coffee, juice and some pastry and fruit. The pastries are all baked by the CIA students so they were very good!
All the classes meet in the same location so there was quite a crowd by the time everything was ready to begin. All of the CIA chefs that are teaching gather in the front of the room and then each class is called one at a time. You all gather together, meet your chef and are then escorted to your room for the day.
We had 17 people in our class and Chef Sean led us to our classroom.
We started off with introductions and a tour of the room. It is a commercial kitchen with multiple burners and stoves on both sides of the room. There were racks with pots and pans and a closet with bowls and other appliances. Each of us had a station with a cutting board, two knives, our aprons and chef hats and our recipe booklet. We also had 3 CIA students that were the classes’ assistants for the day.
In all of the classes we have taken, the chefs and the student assistants have been awesome and this day was no exception. They are very friendly and helpful throughout the class. And the best part… you don’t wash any dishes! The students do all of the cleaning for you.
Once we had the lay of the land, we chose our stations. Our stations were already set up at 4 tables which made us into 4 teams. Each team was assigned a set of recipes that we would be responsible for creating. My team assignment was to make fresh ravioli with three different filling and three different sauces. Once the recipes were assigned, it was off to the races.
Honestly, my sister and I were pretty confused for the first 20-30 minutes. Our team had divided up the tasks and we were going to make the spinach filling but there was some confusion about the recipe in our booklet. We got some help from one of the students and then it started coming together. The chef would come by each table and share a technique or help out with whatever we were doing. Since we were making ravioli, he came over to show us out to make pasta from scratch. He did one batch as a demonstration and then we got to try it as well.
The goal was for us all to finish our recipes by 1 pm and then we would make a big buffet with all of the dishes and enjoy a lunch of sampling everything.
My favorite part of the day was actually making the ravioli. The chef showed us how to roll out the dough using a machine to make it super thin and then use a mold to form the ravioli. After we had everything done, he cooked the ravioli and combined it with the different sauces we made.
We had quite a buffet and once we made our plates with samples of everything, we went to the dining room to eat. The chef came and sat with us to answer questions and just talk about cooking / restaurants in general.
It was a fun day though I think I realized that my comfort zone is definitely more in the baking department. Hope to take a class there again in the future.
I have been a huge Disney and travel fan since childhood. I love going to new places and, of course, heading to Disney as often as I can.