Three sauces from Culinary Arts class.

Sauces & Soups with Sara Tane

The Feedfeed editor and Culinary Arts student says she knows more about sauces than she ever thought possible after a successful first module at ICE.

In college, they used to call me Chief Boss with the Sauce. Just kidding, no one has ever uttered those words in reference to me. It’s more of a self-proclaimed title. But seriously, it’s *all* about the sauce. In my book, a meal is not complete until there’s a flavorful sauce to finish it all off. That said, you can imagine just how excited I was to start the Sauces & Soups chapter of Module 1.

Coming into this chapter, I felt only vaguely familiar with the five mother sauces of French cooking. Sure, I had heard of them all at one point or another, but was not intimately knowledgeable about how to make them or their general purpose in cooking. It’s safe to say that now, I know more about sauces than I ever thought possible. Frankly, I really enjoyed learning about the five classic mother sauces of French cooking (bechamel, Espagnole, hollandaise, velouté and tomato... BOOM) and all of their derivations because it’s interesting to see how one simple technique can be transformed into so many different final products. Will I use these on a daily basis? Probably not, but it’s definitely a useful springboard for future sauce-making endeavors.

Aside from the mother sauces, we also learned how to make mayonnaise, slurries, coulis and vinaigrettes. One of my favorite aspects of cooking is the ability to build on ingredients and play around with flavor combinations, so it’s nice to have a solid foundation of ratios and techniques for these sauces. This way, when I’m developing recipes, I have a baseline technical understanding of the sauces that I’m making. If there’s anything that I’d like to get across in this blog post, it’s that your vinaigrettes need to have a 3:1 ratio of oil to vinegar. If you love yourself and the salads that you make, you will listen to this advice. Thank me later.

Soup practice in Sara's Culinary Arts class.
Soup practice in Sara's Culinary Arts class.

After we mastered our mother sauces, we moved onto soups. Let me preface this by saying that I really don’t like puréed soups and I would probably never make one for myself or anyone that I care about. That said, I understand that every day of class can’t be shellfish day (I miss you, my sweet, sweet oysters), so I put my skepticism aside and put on my Positive Puréed Soup Face (it’s a convincing face, trust me). Long story short, we made a creamy broccoli soup. It was fine. My chef said I over-sweated my veggies. I tried not to take it too personally. We live and we learn and we better ourselves.

At the end of this chapter, we took our first practical (!!!!!), which was the first time that we were graded on food that we prepared. If I’m being honest, I was so nervous. Partly because my high school tendencies of achieving absolute academic perfection are a quality about myself that I can’t seem to shake, but also because the environment was so tense. It honestly felt like I was a contestant on “Top Chef,” and I’ve never felt so PRESSED! Also, I didn’t realize how awkward it is to cook in silence until I had to do it for four hours. Chopping veggies without a podcast or a little Ariana Grande playing just doesn’t feel right, but I somehow managed.

Despite a little case of some nerves, I fared just fine (my chef did *not* ask me to pack my knives and go... phew), and I’m moving on to the next module. I will admit however, I did not ace the test (high-school me would be so disappointed). My chef told me that my mayonnaise was oversalted, and I’ve never wanted to sob in my mother’s arms more in my life than that very moment. Negative feedback is part of the gig and I’m working on trying not to take it too personally. As you can see, I’ve still got some work to do. Like the great Hannah Montana once said, “nobody’s perfect!” Thanks for the memories, mother sauces. It was nice knowing you, puréed broccoli soup. Module 2, here I come!

Conquer the five mother sauces and perfectly salted mayonnaise in ICE’s Culinary Arts program.

Submitted by GJM on May 6, 2019 2:29pm

I love this article, it is hilarious! It really shows how serious Culinary School is, but that you can also bring your own personality to it! More like this, please!

Add new comment