CULINARY LABS CONTEMPORARY COOKING SCHOOL OPENS
By Kay Schroeder
Anaheim,CA(Perfect Meal Today)9/24/15/–Invited guests assembled at 6:00 p.m. to participate in the cooking school’s first open house. The Culinary Chapel located inside the Anaheim Packing House proved to be a beautiful, chandelier and crystal laden setting for the instructors’ food demonstrations and allowed ample space for guests to mingle and sample the three menu items.
Guests were able to interact with the instructors and ask questions as the food was being prepared. Mike Backouris, C.E.C., Chef Instructor, Seafood Expert, was very generous with his time in answering each of the guests’ questions. His level of detail provided a good understanding of what ingredients were being used and why those particular ingredients were chosen.
Kudos to Culinary Labs’ Goli Nazari, Sustainability Instructor, with a Masters Degree in Food Culture, for her passion for sustainable, organic, and locally produced items. Goli has traveled and studied in Spain, China, France, and beyond brining a wealth of knowledge and experience to the art of cooking.
Menu items included a salad composed of sliced fennel bulbs, micro greens and a sprinkling of fennel seeds. While this item was beautifully constructed and presented, the resulting texture was a bit fibrous with a flavor that was indistinctive and bland.
The second food item was yellowtail tuna. Chef Instructor Mike Backouris demonstrated the preparation of this course.
He explained how placing small pieces of tuna between two layers of seaweed and allowing them to sit for a few minutes changed the color and texture of the tuna to something resembling cooked tuna.
To complete the recipe, micro greens and other items were placed on top of the tuna. Although the execution, i.e., construction and presentation, of this item was beautifully done, no discernable flavors could be detected.
The third item, demonstrated by Pastry Chef Instructor Colleen Johnson, was the preparation of chocolate cookies using Verona Chocolate (considered the best chocolate available) with three different sources of fats/lipids. The first preparation was made with unsalted butter, the second preparation was made with margarine, and the third preparation was made with Crisco Baking Sticks. Guests were asked to evaluate the three preparations on taste, texture, and mouth feel. All guests agreed that the cookies prepared with the unsalted butter were superior on all three characteristics.
In summation, Culinary Labs chefs and instructors did an excellent job interfacing with the guests, preparation, and presentation of the food items. Unfortunately, flavor was lacking in the food items except for the chocolate cookies.
Several of the missed opportunities were in the facilitation of the event. Chief Director Mike Wagner might have introduced himself at the beginning of the event and spoken to the guests regarding the purpose of the event, the operation objectives and philosophy of the Culinary Labs, and explained in sufficient detail their chefs’ training program and their inaugural class scheduled for Winter 2016.
Allowing that this was the Culinary Labs’ first event, they did a great job on demonstration, interfacing with the guests, and in their excellent presentation of the food.
Great things can be expected of upcoming Culinary Labs events. Thanks goes to Stacy Sato Culinary Lab’s School Director. Cheers!
Anaheim Packing House District
400 S. Anaheim Boulevard
287 S.Robertson Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Tom Wright: Photography