Our Culinary Arts Program has been very busy this past month, creating many taste-tastic dishes, and learning all sorts of techniques! Chefs Yves and Patrick are totally taking it to the next level this year!
Soup week in Culinary Arts was a huge success!
Students learned how to cook and plate many different types of soups from scratch, and were kind enough to share these tasty creations with the rest of the school!
One of our Culinary Arts Students, Justin, decided to enter a Halloween contest by the For the Love of Chocolate Foundation. For the Love of Chocolate Foundation provides scholarships for qualified students in the specialized training of the pastry arts. The contest Justin entered required participants to make a Spooky Wedding Cake. Justin worked tirelessly for over two weeks on his cake, and the results are simply amazing! You can check out more of Justin's tasty creations on his Instagram Account at @SweetsByJustin!
When Chef Yves mentioned a cake competition for my Culinary Arts class, I knew I would be interested. I thought about how stressful this could be knowing that I already have so much on my plate (with my Culinary Classes and my ASM Program) and this would be my first cake competition ever. But I chose to be a risk taker and joined the competition
Once my application was finalized and I was accepted in the competition, we were told to make a Halloween themed wedding cake. I immediately started sketching a few designs. I am a big fan of combining old and new, so I decided to create a gothic three-tiered cake with some old school piping using royal icing. For the modern aspect, I wanted to carve the cake and create sort of a dramatic forest scene and add two black crows made out of chocolate as opposed to the traditional bride and groom cake toppers.
I’m really bad at time management, which is something I’m trying to improve on. Before making this cake I created a calendar for the month of October. I designated a task for the cake for each day. Three weeks before the deadline, I was able to make a list of what I needed and I was fortunate enough to have Chef Yves help me obtain the stuff I needed and provide me with all the powdered sugar that someone could have in the world! The whole process took two weeks. From coloring the fondant, making the frosting, carving the birds out of chocolate, piping the frosting, and so much more.
Throughout this whole process, I could feel a sense of doubt from people. I think people often underestimate the capabilities that a person of my age could do, but if you put your heart and passion for your work, nothing is impossible. A few weeks had passed and there was only one week before the deadline of the contest. We had to be done with our cakes on the Friday of that week and deliver it to the South Side to be judged the day after. I started feeling the pressure. A lot of people anticipated the result of what I’ve made, and yet I was not close to being done. Those 5 days were the most stressful days I’ve ever had to face. I was scared that I was competing against college students and people who have been in this field for far longer than I have. I was scared of disappointing people, especially my mom who was a former cake decorator, but I was fortunate enough to have people support me throughout all this and encourage me to fight through because I was really close to actually giving up. Eventually, I was able to finish the cake on the morning of Friday, October 26. I was lucky enough to have my best friend’s mom, India Tougne, take time off from her day to deliver the cake with me since I don’t have a car.
I ended up losing in the competition, but to me, it was never about winning. I saw this competition as an opportunity to get introduced to a field that I would like to be part of in the near future. My mom told me that it’s okay to lose, that’s just part of life. It’s the experience that matters. I’m always going to be thankful to everyone who helped me achieve this. To Chef Yves for providing me with everything I needed. To India for picking up the cake and delivering it all the way to the South Side. And to Alex, Dora, Bre, and Elodie for always encouraging me to never give up and the kind words they had for myself and the cake. This experience taught me that if you do something you’re passionate about, there’s no limit to what you can do!
This past week students have been working on plating techniques. Check out the plate job they did on this mouthwatering Pork Tenderloin!
With our Winter Showcase quickly approaching, we expect the kitchen will stay in high gear. Culinary Arts will be exhibiting their work, along with Visual Arts December 5th, in our 5th Floor Gallery, The Center Space. Come on down and grab a taste yourself!
- Until next time. Stay creative, Chicago!