How do you de-bone a chicken? What is the best way to temper chocolate? And just what in the world is nigiri? Chef Frederick Oh has the answers for you.
The world-renowned chef is the primary instructor at the Richmond Hill Culinary Arts Centre, which has partnered with Seneca College to offer an array of recreational cooking classes for beginners and advanced students alike.
“About three years ago we did a party for the school, and that’s when they saw the facilities and they thought it would be a good addition to their (curriculum),” recalls Oh, who has won such prestigious awards as the Culinary Olympics in Germany and the American Culinary Federation Award.
Most of the classes, which can range from eight to 12 students, are three-hour, one-night workshops that focus on a special-interest subject.
“They’re for people who want to expand their cooking skills,” says Linda Wren, academic co-ordinator in the faculty of continuing education and training at Seneca.
“For instance, we do Spanish cooking or Italian cuisine … and then we have a series of cooking with different meats — cooking with poultry, cooking with beef, cooking with seafood — and, of course, vegetarian cuisine.”
One of the most popular courses is the Art of Sushi, says Wren. The class addresses everything from the seasoning of sushi rice and preparation of miso soup, to techniques for making maki (roll) sushi and nigiri sushi — a small nugget of rice with a topping of fish, egg or vegetable.
Students, who eventually get to eat what they make, learn in a fully equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen. After watching Oh make a sample dish, they create the same dishes under his supervision.
“If you come to the class and you know nothing about sushi, by the end of the evening you will make very good rice; you’ll be able to roll and make nigiri,” says Oh, though he cautions that students would need many years of practice to achieve the artistry and speed of professional chefs.
For students seeking a more in-depth experience, the school also offers a fundamental culinary repertoire course. Beginning with classic French cooking techniques, students learn over six classes how to grill, sauté, braise, make stocks and sauces, and more.
The curriculum has grown over time to include new courses, such as a recently introduced Thai-style fruit and vegetable carving class. Oh plans to expand his popular Chocolate Works course, which currently focuses on hand-rolled truffles, to include pralines in the near future, as well as focus more on the nutrition aspect of cooking.
For a list of classes scheduled for fall 2009 and information on how to register, visit culinaryarts.ca.