For this month, I decided to try and make bruschetta. Bruschetta is an Italian appetizer consisting of grilled bread, rubbed with garlic and topped with olive oil and salt. There are many variations of this dish, with the most well-known variation being where the bread is topped with a tomato salad. This tomato salad often contains olive oil, chopped tomatoes, basil, and minced garlic. However, you can mix it up by adding sausage meat to it, onion, or mozzarella, it’s described as a dish you can really make your own with creativity. I chose to start with this dish because it was fairly simple and it would help me improve my knife skills from all the tomatoes I would be cutting. I decided to make the tomato bruschetta because it is the most well-known variant and also because I had a lot of tomatoes on hand.
When making the bruschetta, I had to use a video to guide me along because I was technically not allowed to meet with my mentor and learn from him yet as he hadn’t finished signing the paperwork. This also resulted in me not being able to secure a meeting this month, resulting in me not having learned as much as I could’ve. However, I will try and catch up as quickly as I can when my first meeting is secured. Below is the video I used to make the bruschetta, it was very informative.
So I first started by dicing some tomatoes into small pieces. I would add them all into a stainless steel mixing bowl and made sure to scrape the lost juices of the tomatoes into the bowl as best as I could. I would then use a garlic crusher to crush 1 large peeled clove of garlic into the mixture. After that, I added quite a bit of olive oil as directed by the video, then added salt and pepper to taste. Because I only have rosemary on hand, I could only add that as I didn’t have any basil. When making it again, I will be sure to add basil instead of rosemary. The colour and contents of the mixture are shown below.
Here’s also a video of me cutting the tomatoes. I will continue to work on my knife skills in the future.
I would then toast some leftover slices of baguette as it is what is often used in bruschetta), and would then cut a peeled garlic clove in half, rubbing the freshly cut end on the toasted baguette. I would then add spoonfuls of the tomato mixture along with some of the juice onto the bread. The final plating and presentation that I made is shown below.
The tomato mixture and juice really moistened up the stale slices of baguette and added a lot of flavour and texture to the dish. However, I believe I added too much oil for this attempt, and I think I will add less for the next attempts. The dish still tasted very good while being pretty simple, and I would recommend anyone to try making it because you can also be creative with it and add your own flavours to the dish.
Questions for this post:
- How did your mentor gain their experience/ expertise?
My mentor has gone to culinary school and that’s where he gained most of his expertise and knowledge on the subject of cooking. He also gained a lot of expertise and experience from the various culinary-related jobs he took over the years. For example, he learned how to butcher meat from a meat cutter job when he was young, and from this, he also learned a lot about the different muscles in an animal’s body and how to prepare them correctly. Most importantly, he has been working in the culinary industry for a lot of years, gaining invaluable experience in a fast-paced kitchen that can’t be learned entirely in school.
- What were those experiences like for your mentor?
My mentor said that those experiences were very informative and incredibly helpful later on in his culinary career. He highlighted how his meat cutting job helped him gain knife skills and helped him learn the anatomy of multiple different animals that were often sold. He also said that the experiences helped him get to know how to work in a team in such a fast-paced environment like the kitchen of a restaurant.
- What wisdom have you gained from your mentor so far?
While I haven’t met my mentor in any In-Depth meetings so far, I have met with him before in the past for a different assignment. Some wisdom that I have gained from my mentor is that it is very important to enjoy your work and to be proud of what you’ve made. Don’t bring yourself down too much just because of a single small mistake like overseasoning a dish. While acknowledging and learning from your mistakes are important, it is also equally important to make sure that cooking isn’t just about achieving pure 100% perfection on everything you make. This mindset can easily burn you out and you will ruin your passion for cooking as well as the enjoyment you get from cooking.
- What have you learned so far, in terms of facilitation strategies, that might contribute to your own development as a mentor?
I have learned that I should be patient and be happy to ask questions to my mentee, and also to make sure you lighten the mood so that the meeting isn’t awkwardly stiff the entire time. This will make the mentee more likely to answer questions truthfully and with more insight as they don’t feel pressured to be overly formal or professional. A way you can do this is by making jokes or smiling, as having a warm facial expression I find helps reassure the mentee that they can be comfortable in this meeting environment.
Thank you for reading! Keep an eye out for my future In-Depth blog posts.