This year for in-depth, I chose to learn about French cuisine and how to cook French food. While this is my main focus, I am also going to learn how to critique food, try to understand the history of French cuisine, and learn to utilize new French cooking techniques throughout the duration of this project. During this project, I will try to cook at least one dish a month. I will also meet twice a month on a bi-weekly basis with my mentor and use the first meeting of the month to prep for a dish, and the second meeting to create the dish.
This means that I will have four focuses for this project which is quite ambitious. However, I am only planning on touching upon what I will learn independently. This is an opportunity to expand upon my cooking skills and not just my knowledge, so making food hands-on is what I will be doing with the help of my mentor.
To make sure I cover all basis of what I will be learning, starting in February, I will be structuring my update blog posts in the following format:
Description of what I did with my mentor and what we made.
Picture of what I did in the kitchen.
One paragraph critiquing the taste of the dish I made (if applicable as new dishes may not be made or completed every meeting).
Description of a French cooking technique that I learned.
History or origin of dish made (once a month).
Questions and prompts from “Mentorship Posts for In-Depth” guideline.
Reason for choice
I decided that I wanted to do something related to food, and when I thought about what cuisine I could possibly explore, French cuisine immediately came to my mind. French cuisine is probably the most well-known type of cuisine since many techniques and popular dishes came from French origins. I’m not very good at cooking and baking, even though I love to do it. There have been many times when I felt too lazy to cook or didn’t want to buy materials to cook, so doing cooking for my in-depth project was something that I thought would push me to do more cooking. I also believe that cooking is a great skill to learn since you need food to survive, and once I live by myself, I cannot live off of eating out every day. Food made at home is also usually healthier and cheaper as well, so knowing how to cook will be very useful as an adult. If I ever decide to become a chef or a baker, I’ll have this insightful knowledge with me that I can use as a new baseline.
My mentor will be my cousin Peter. Right now, he’s currently working at a Japanese restaurant as a chef. Peter is not very experienced with French cooking specifically, however, I asked Peter to be my mentor because not many people are willing to meet up with omicron numbers being high, and cooking is a skill that is hard to monitor through a camera online. Peter will be meeting with me bi-weekly on Sundays and he’ll be there with me at my family’s restaurant kitchen to help monitor and create dishes with me. He has a lot of general knowledge of cooking, and since I’ll only really be cooking French dishes with him, his knowledge of French cuisine won’t matter since I’ll just be following recipes, which he knows how to do.
During the meetings, I’ll be creating a dish from French cuisine that will be decided by me about a month prior to the meetings. For February, I decided that I will start off with a chocolate souffle. Chocolate souffle is a light, fluffy-looking dessert usually served in a ramekin topped with whipped cream and powdered sugar. Truthfully, I think that I will fail in creating a successful souffle because of the challenging techniques it features, however since it does not take a long time to make, I will attempt on making chocolate souffles for this entire month and not just one meeting.
One issue with creating a baked dish is that I don’t have ramekins or an oven at my family’s restaurant (because what’s made there doesn’t require one). This means that I will have to buy ramekins, which I don’t mind since a lot of French dishes need ramekins and I will likely need one again. It also means that with the lack of an oven, I will have to make this at home. Normally, as a solution, I would create the base of the dish at the restaurant, and then bring the prep home to bake it. With souffles, I cannot do that as it is a dish that requires air, so bringing it home would not be good for the batter. As an exception, Peter is willing to come to my house in February. Peter will be there to see if I am doing everything correctly and assess my skills so that he can suggest dishes that we can make around my cooking skill level. Purchasing ingredients for these dishes is something that I do not mind doing which means that it won’t be much of a problem. However, finding these ingredients at times may be difficult. This is why I am planning on checking availability of non-common items that I may need so that I don’t run into the issue of needing to change my dish for the month.
I am excited to use this opportunity to learn about French cooking and to expand my cooking skills and I hope that my creations can impress people and that my journey through learning this new skill will be a successful one. I look forward to creating chocolate souffles and sharing it with close ones.