Friday, June 21, 2013

Art and Design Class at the Culinary Institute of America

By student blogger Morgan Phillips

The way the AOS Baking and Pastry curriculum is set up at the CIA, students spend the first six weeks of their second semester out of the bakeshop. For the first three weeks we're over on the culinary side of things in cafe savory. In that class we still got our hands on food, but we use much different techniques. The next move was to Art and Design and for three whole weeks, we hung up our toques, aprons and side towels completely and headed into the art studio.

Art and Design teaches us how to balance an artistic vision for a dessert with the practical limitations of design. Through different assigned projects, we studied the fundamentals of design: balance, color, line, texture, shape, space and form. Everyday when we would get to class, the front board (or as Professor Ostwald fondly refers to it, the 'refrigerator') would look something like this:

Day 1: Radiant image project
We would have a short lecture on what we were doing that day, and then he'd cut us loose to work. It was a really hands on class and we learned by doing, which definitely appealed to everyone. Also, note the perfect handwriting and how organized that front board is - This professor knew who he was dealing with. It's the little things that make our baker hearts go pitter patter! Here are a few examples of the projects that were assigned and my classmates' work:

Radiant Image
 This project was supposed to show movement and convey some sort of optical illusion using only lines.

Contrast Study: Tessellation

Airbrush logo 
 This was everyone's favorite project. We designed our own logo (most people used their initials and an object that represented them) and made a card stock stencil from it. We then mixed our own colors and used the airbrush to create prints. In the Baking and Pastry field we use the airbrush to add color to cakes, gumpaste flowers and fondant. Everyone was excited to be working in a medium that was somewhat familiar and very applicable to what we would learning later in the program.

Carlie, manning the airbrush

"Our refrigerator" after a very successful day

Impressionist sculpture
 Our lecture this day was a little art history lesson on art movements. The challenge was to create a clay sculpture that conveyed characteristics of a specific movement like art deco, cubist or post-modernist.

Chocolate casting of a handmade silicon mold
Another favorite: we molded a stamp out of oil based clay and then poured silicon around it to create a chocolate or sugar mold. The next day we made actual chocolate castings using our molds.

Final project: Create a themed dessert menu
The last project assigned in the class is to create a themed dessert menu featuring four desserts our of construction paper and rubber cement. The concept was key here, and the menu pictured above had a 'cakes and cocktails' theme with each drink paired with an individual dessert.

I'm torn on my feelings of being out of the bakeshop for six whole weeks. I really enjoyed both Cafe Savory and Art and Design, and I think I can speak for the majority of my class when I say they did too. I think both classes apply directly to the baking and pastry concentration and serve an integral part in rounding out our education. BUT my knife roll has been quite lonely hanging on the back of my chair for three weeks and I have been itching to get some flour back on my hands. I don't have an alternative suggestion of how to fit both of these classes into our schedule without spending some time away from the kitchen, so I feel like I can't complain. Instead, I'm just happy to be back in the kitchen this week with the start of Basic and Classical Cakes. More on that to come!

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