One of the major perks of attending culinary school in NYC are the amazing demos I get to attend up to twice a week. Since a lot of my heroes happen to be chefs, the fact that I get to see many of them up close and personal AND try their food on the spot – it’s to die for.
I’ve been to a handful of showcases so far, and considering my course ends in 2 weeks, I plan on attending every last one of the demos that school puts on. The first demo I attended ‘starred’ The Meatball Shop’s very own Daniel Holzman who actually butchered a full lamb right in front of us. It was pretty spectacular, to say the least. After showing off his knife and sawing skills, he and his staff cooked the varying lamb parts to perfection and I enjoyed every last bite.
Next up was a visit from the French Culinary Institute’s Dean of Special Programs – Jacques Pépin. His demo featured only the incredibly simple and delicious egg. From hard boiled to soft boiled to baked, he parlayed his knowledge and experience into brilliant flavors for the whole audience to enjoy.
One of my favorite demos by far was held by Chef Adam Schop from Nuela restaurant in New York City. He showcased Latin American (mostly Peruvian and Brazilian) cuisine is the most superb way. We sampled a perfectly tart ceviche, delicately butter-poached lobster and an incredible duck dish. The duck was cooked a la minute for us, served over an insane paella, and alongside duck confit, foie gras, fresh veggies, duck gizzard salad… it was heaven. Pure heaven. His demo absolutely made me want to visit his restaurant.
An interesting and more informative demo was one based on salt. Yep, just salt. But who knew that salt was so varied and interesting? Mark Bitterman from The Meadow did. He shared his knowledge and lots of salt with us prompting me to think more about my salt usage and wanting to buy his cookbook!
Lastly, we were treated to another whole meat-based demo, this time with goat. Heritage Foods and Fatty Crab’s Zac Paliccio joined forces to convey not only the tastiness of male dairy goats, but the urgency by which they should be consumed. Apparently, America’s (myself included) new found love of goat cheese comes with some consequences. Goat dairy farms use female goats for milk, but female goat mostly birth twins – one boy and one girl – leaving many goat dairy farms with a plethora of male goats roaming the farm. This places a heavy burden on an already difficult profession. That said, Heritage Foods is trying to get Americans to understand that goat is good! We were lucky enough to see a whole goat butchered down and then, of course, we tasted its cooked parts. I can honestly say that I’m now a new found goat meat lover!
I imagine that the upcoming demos at the FCI will be as good as the past ones. Who knew that culinary school would end up having the best extra-curricular activities?