Lesson 5: Medium Dice & Mirepoix

I have officially made it through my first week in ICE’s Culinary Arts Program and these last five days have been a whirlwind of lectures, demos and medium dicing.

My classmates and I have begun to gel as a group, both out of choice and out of necessity as we quickly learned how crucial it will be to work effectively and efficiently together over these next six months of culinary school. Chef Ted continues to impress with his Encyclopedia-like knowledge of technical skills, culinary history and food science. He prepped us well for our first quiz this morning, which consisted of 10 questions about food safety and sanitation as well as identification of 10 fresh herbs. Lecture and quiz aside, we moved on to preparing our first cooked items of Module 1, potato puree and blanched green vegetables. I have to admit that it was a definite rush getting to fire up the burners for the first time while cooking alongside my classmates. The last three days of cooking class have been spent practicing medium dicing potatoes, carrots, celery and onions, a skill that can only be honed through extensive practice. And practice means homework.

Each night we take home a selection of potatoes or vegetables, medium dice them (½” by ½” by ½”) and then return with them to class for inspection. My lifesaver (other than maintaining as sharp of a knife as possible) has been the toy vegetable kit pictured above on the left. It allows us to measure our diced veggies against a template so that we can judge our accuracy. I’m headed into the weekend with a bag of four potatoes and a cautious optimism that Monday’s crop will be better than my performance today. Despite my dicing inaccuracies, the potatoes made for a great potato puree whipped with heavy cream and butter.

Coming up next week: Culinary Math Part II, Simple Vinaigrette & Dressed Salads, Oils, Fats & Heat, Introduction to Stocks, Fish & Shellfish Identification and Introduction to Poultry

A look back: Lesson 1: Mise en Place

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