Anyone who has gone to culinary school can tell tales of hours spent perfecting jardiniere carrot batons or clarifying veal stock with an egg raft. And of course these are highly marketable skills if you are, say, looking to sport a toque in a cruise-ship galley or a fancy yet frozen-in-time hotel kitchen. Regardless of how well you know your mother sauces (bechamel, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise and tomato, if you were wondering), it’s real kitchen time with real chefs that counts when you’re seeking out a culinary career.
Program director Jonathan Deutsch of Drexel University’s Goodwin College of Hospitality Management, Culinary Arts and Food Science has created a syllabus for his students that ensures plenty of time spent in some very serious (we’re not talking classroom) kitchens.
When students aren’t working at their co-ops at a.kitchen, Zahav and Barclay Prime, they are checking out the chef’s counter at Sbraga, creating menus for a collaboration dinner at the recently shuttered Le Bec Fin or learning the finer points of hand-rolled pasta from Marc Vetri.
That last one happened on a recent Tuesday, as eight Drexel culinary students stood around a butcher-block table in the pastry kitchen of Osteria. Over the course of the evening, Vetri walked the students through three of Osteria’s don’t-even-think-about-taking-’em-off-the-menu pastas: beet and goat-cheese plin (a small, rectangular, seamed stuffed pasta), robiola fancobolli (postage-stamp-sized ravioli) with wild mushrooms, and chicken-liver rigatoni with cipollini onions. Together they took the pasta dough from sticky mounds of flour and eggs to hand-rolled sheets primed to be filled, boiled, sauced and enjoyed.
It’s that kind of hands-on experience that Deutsch is going for: in working kitchens with professional chefs. “I wanted to make sure our students could meaningfully connect with the chef rather than just seeing him from the audience.”
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