by Hector Frausto
Chef Gordon Ramsay’s origin story and journey to becoming a great chef is fascinating to me. I am inspired by how committed he was, and still is, to learning his craft. He travels all over the world and has been able to learn from great French chefs to nonnas in Italy.
Chef begins his series by making it clear that you do not need an expensive kitchen to make good food. He emphasizes that all a chef needs are the right tools- starting with a good knife. He also emphasizes the importance of good ingredients. He teaches the importance of vegetables: how to maximize yield, stresses buying local and buying according to season. When working with herbs, Chef Ramsay recommends to not over chop them because you can damage them which results in a loss of flavor.
Chef demonstrated best practices on trimming butternut squash using a boning knife. A boning knife is more flexible than a regular chef knife which allows the blade to move through the curves of the squash and get the most yield. When I worked at JOJO in New York City, I had to trim and cut butternut squash almost daily and it was extremely time consuming. I never thought of using my boning knife which I primarily use for cutting meats.
Chef Ramsay is well known on Youtube for a series referred to as “Scrambled” where he travels the world and makes eggs. There was a section of the online class devoted to elevated scramble eggs with sea urchin garnished with white truffle. I have never had egg with sea urchin before and now I really want to try it! A tip Chef had for cooking scramble eggs was to not add salt till you are done cooking and to mix them in pan with a rubber spatula.
Chef showed how to break down chicken, round fish, flat fish and beef. He recommended that chefs familiarize themselves with different cuts for specific animals and their optimal use. When breaking down a chicken he teaches us on how to practice hygiene in the kitchen to reduce the risk of a food born illnesses. I learned letting the protein rest for at least five minutes before cooking helps the meat to cook evenly.
In the lessons where he worked with seafood, I found tips that will help me to create the perfect dish. I have limited experience cooking with seafood, however, I have made scallops about three times in my life. I learned that you should not leave them in water because they will end up absorbing most of the water and not roasting correctly. I learned that when you are cooking clams, cockles, or mussels you must make sure they are fully closed. They need to run in cold water to get rid of any sand that might still be in and around the shellfish. Chef recommends when buying or selecting a lobster to always hold a lobster before buying one, it should feel firm and weighty, compact and solid. When breaking down a fish, in this case he was portioning a salmon, he mentions the higher you move up into the belly of the fish the thinner you should slice.
In the pasta making lesson, I learned that you should always beat the egg yolks first before adding it to the flour and to make the pasta dough on a cold surface.
The most anticipated lesson for me was on beef wellington. I love all the layers of flavor: the Millard reaction from the meat with mustard, savory crape, prosciutto, mushrooms and the phyllo dough is amazing to me. I loved Chef’s innovative twist to this classic dish. I am really excited to try this dish on my own!