I’ve taken the Plunge!

Assistants Zach, Greg, Chef James and Me
I have taken the plunge! For more years than I can remember I have wanted to go to culinary school. But somehow life got in the way. I know a person can have multiple passions and not enough time to explore them all.

For the last 25 years I have helped people achieve the dream of home ownership through the real estate and mortgage industry. And while this was very satisfying, it was also challenging and stressful at times. I found myself escaping through food.
I love a theme dinner party! The murder mystery parties where everyone transforms themselves into their character by costume and speech was just one of the many parties with themes. If that much effort is given to create the evening how can the food and drink be any less dramatic? So the menus and decorations and music were planned to match the theme. 
Now 20 + years later, I am finding time in the evenings at Grossmont College to learn the techniques that make the food even more memorable and the joy that I am experiencing in school has surprised even me! In the weeks to come I will share my school tales with you and hope you learn a bit along the way with me. 
Chef Foran
I am starting with what I and many trained Chefs consider their weakest area. Desserts! And not just desserts, but the feared pastry and baking arena. I feel very fortunate to be learning from an amazing man, Executive Pastry Chef James Foran.
Chef Foran graduated with a Pastry Arts degree from Johnson and Wales University and has worked as the Executive Pastry Chef at such highly acclaimed restaurants as Vertigo, One Market and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco and in Las Vegas at Bellagio Hotel’s celebrated Picasso restaurant. His work has appeared in Pastry Art and Design Magazine, Food Arts, San Francisco Magazine and Epicurean Magazine as well as the book A Neoclassic View of Plated Desserts.
We begin by understanding that getting the right foundation in place is the key to having it all come together. The first thing we learn is French….. at least a French term that we will use every time we start a recipe. “Mise en place” which literally means “putting in place” and the Culinary Institute of America has defined as as “everything in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients.
Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints. If you are watching any of the competitive cooking shows like Top Chef, Mise en Place is one of the elimination challenges.
Everything is now in place to begin my series on baking and pastry. Follow me on this adventure. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am!

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