Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tasting is my Job!

Greetings Readers!

Every student at The Chef’s Academy receives two stainless steel spoons along with their uniform and knife kit. These spoons are an essential element in their culinary development because it allows them an opportunity to taste what they prepare and create! “To taste with two spoons, dip one spoon into food then, transfer food to second spoon, which is the spoon you put into your mouth for tasting.” The purpose of this is to prevent students from dipping their fingers into a pot, licking their fingers, or double dipping. All of this can result in cross contamination! As students transition into the workplace, tasting will be their job.

Chef Gordon Ramsay from the television show “Hell’s Kitchen” oftentimes sends food back to the kitchen. I can hear him asking the chef contestant if they’ve tasted what they were so willing to send out to their customers. Many times, the contestant’s response is indeed “no.”

I know we can see, feel, and measure the temperature of food items to determine its readiness. However, “tasting is the true test,” as my mother would say. One of my fondest childhood memories is of my mother allowing me to taste test steak with fried onions and potatoes before anyone else in the house! “Do I need to add anything?” she’d ask. Tasting not only helps you answer this question, but it helps you catch your culinary blunders prior to upsetting a diner. For example, a very common mistake is getting sugar and salt mixed up! Can you imagine eating something that should be sweet and it’s salty? Yuck!

Even from a server’s perspective, tasting what’s on the menu helps them explain and sell items to their customer. Tasting not only applies to food, but beverages too! “What does it taste like? Is it dry or sweet?” These are questions a customer seeking to purchase a glass or bottle of wine might ask and you should be prepared to answer. Let me be clear, there is a difference between “tasting” and “drinking!” Using your other senses – smell and sight – only a taste is required to help you draw in the necessary information to evaluate a wine.

I encourage you to join the Travel & Tour Club. It is our mission to provide students with opportunities to taste . . . just this past Friday, September 25th we toured Easley Winery just around the corner from the school. Meredith Easley led us through each phase of wine making, from crushing to bottling. The process itself is like “science with a touch of art” says Foodservice Instructor Deb Nelson. Our 10:00am tour ended with wine tasting! It is our job to taste what we create, serve, and sell.

Jokima Hiller, MBA, Hospitality & Restaurant
Management Program Coordinator
Faculty Advisor, Travel & Tour Club

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