By: Natalia Colón
During quarantine, I had the opportunity to watch Chef Thomas Keller’s online classes. Each video showcased an important technique from the art of cooking. These videos helped to reinforce what I had learned during my time at school and it was an educational review of how we learn procedures through different recipes. Chef Keller is extremely knowledgeable and has very interesting philosophies on how to achieve success in the culinary world.
A topic that caught my attention in one of his videos, was how he explained the cooking equation, which consists of ingredients and execution. Ingredients, he says, pass through many hands in the supply chain. Numerous people play an important role in how ingredients come to be. He mentions that the most important thing in our kitchen is the quality of the ingredients because this is what gives value and perfection to each of the dishes that we create. On the other hand, he emphasizes that execution is all about the chef. Execution is about our knowledge, skills, and abilities that we use in order to prepare the perfect dish.
Chef told a story about how one of his first jobs was being a dishwasher which allowed him to understand many disciplines for success. This resonated with me because my first boss asked all of the cooks to become familiar with every job performed in the kitchen. My boss explained that alternating positions was important for us to understand teamwork, organization, and efficiency.
Over the course of his online classes, I reviewed various techniques such as roasting, braising, boiling, poaching, among others. I was reminded of necessary steps within the process of making broths and sauces. Chef created a variety of recipes, many of which I had never seen and that I would like to recreate. One of my favorite lessons was centered around meat. In my country meats such as beef, pork, and chicken are extremely popular. I really enjoyed the recipe "Red Wine Braised Short Ribs" because I learned the technique of marinating ingredients and how to transform a liquid to be a base for a sauce.
Chef Thomas Keller’s classes taught me that the basis for success is patience, perseverance, and concentration to excel in everything you set out to do in the kitchen. One of the phrases that he always reiterated was "practice, practice, practice." I couldn’t agree more and I believe that what will make me stand out from other chefs will be the constant practice of techniques, cuts, and recipes.