Blogs > Cooking from Scratch

Chef Stacy believes that cooking from scratch and using the best ingredients are the secrets to preparing delicious and memorable meals. She has created dozens of classes for the home chef and teaches students how to master culinary techniques and recipes in just one session. Read on to see what she's dishing up for The Oakland Press today....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Food Theory

We've started a new program at Mirepoix based on our experiences at Culinary School. The series is geared towards the student who longs to understand the foundational principles of good cooking, sound techniques and the "hows and whys". Tonight's class is the second installment of the Advanced series (there is an intro and an Advanced). Tonight, our students are learning about Food Theory.

What is “food theory”? –
After working as a professional chef, as well as teaching over 400 students in the last three years at Mirepoix, I’ve noticed that many people have a lot of the same questions and assumptions regarding food, food preparation, and basic cooking techniques.

From the novice to a more experienced cook, their questions and assumptions are actually sometimes surprisingly similar. One of the most common things I hear is, “well, baking is a science; you have to be so exact.” That statement is actually somewhat false.

The reason I tell people I am a “food theorist” is that you first have to understand certain “laws” or “principles” of a certain subject before you can become an expert. For example, a chemist needs to fully understand the periodic table, the differences between protons and neutrons, the composition of an atom, etc. before he or she can call himself a scientist or a chemist. Likewise, a medical student would need to understand the basic concepts of anatomy and physiology before he or she could learn about disease.

Food theory begins here -
 Understanding the importance and practicing of disciplined mise en place
 Understanding the three cooking methods
 Understanding and refining the basic cooking techniques
 Understanding and refining of foundational practices (water bath, blanching, shocking, barding, larding, confit, stocks, etc.)
 Sound knife skills
 Ingredient identification & functionality
 Flavor profiles & palate development

Grasping and practicing food theory is what distinguishes a cook from a chef. A cook might be able to make a recipe, but a chef can write the recipe!


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