Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Easy Jacket Cleanup

by Matthew Stocker, Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, excerpted from La Papillote

There is one feeling in the kitchen that never goes away, even when you have had a great day. This feeling can influence your quality of work, and even how others perceive you. This is the feeling of being dirty. We have all been there. An hour into class when you get red sauce on your jacket, or someone next to you is whisking a little too hard and splatters you with hollandaise. The Culinary Institute proudly shows off their students, expecting them to be clean and confident. The only problem is, sometimes, confidence goes hand and hand with how our jackets are kept. If you have hit the brick wall when it comes to cleaning, and you just cannot get that one stain off, hopefully, you will learn a few tricks of the trade here.

1. Here is what the students say: Bleach, bleach, and maybe a little more bleach. Before we came to the CIA, bleach worked on all of the day-to-day stains. After washing my jackets here, I have noticed that bleach will remove some of the lighter stains, but barely helps on the deeper stains. One tactic to keep in your head is that forms of pre-soaking, or even letting bleach sit on the stained spots for ten minutes before washing, help a lot. Pre-soaking is usually for 24 hours, having your coat in a container submerged in a bleach and water mixture. If we look at bleach on a molecular level, we understand that the bleach breaks the chemical bonds of the stain, which is why soaking is a leading choice for tough stains. Both pre-washing methods have seemed to be more effective than just putting bleach in the washer. Please note that when you do use these methods YOU STILL NEED TO add bleach to the washer for maximum results.

2. Not all stains are the same, which means they cannot all be treated the same. Protein stains can be big trouble if you do not know what to do. Common thought tells us to wash all of our whites in hot water because they cannot bleed. For protein stains, hot water can cook the stain into the fibers of the jacket. Hot water denatures the protein, taking the water out of it, making it difficult to dilute. Most stain fighters have the enzyme to help fight proteins, so you can use the common bleach or other stain removers. Just remember to use cold or warm water instead of hot water. Protein stains, among other stains, are hard to get out once set in, so a bleach pen is good to have in your pocket to lighten the stain quickly before the stain sets.

3. Regular maintenance is protocol to keep your jacket in tip-top shape. Avoid bleach if you do not have to use it. A good day in the kitchen means you will not have any bad stains, and the lesser stains can be removed with a simple product like Oxi-Clean® Bleach. However, these products will wear your jacket down, and, if you use too much, can leave holes in the jacket. Many chefs will give you the simple answer to getting stains out: just do not get stained. If you only have to heavily clean your jacket once every two weeks, opposed to using bleach every other day, you will notice that your jacket will last longer and be more cooperative when stained.

4. Being a student, I have my own ritual for taking out the worst stains. From grease splatters to red sauce, this works every time. I have SuperTrump™ from Ecolab®. It is used in dishwashers to clean kitchen equipment, and in my case, uniforms. I put a coffee mug of it in a five-gallon bucket filled from halfway to three-quarters full, depending on how concentrated I want the chemical. I soak my jacket in the mixture for 24 hours. After soaking, I put my jacket and the chemical water mixture in the washer with a little bleach and a Tide® pack. I have never had a problem with this method. This method is pricey because the chemical can go for $60 a gallon, but it is relative to how effective I find it. This is not to say that a mixture you can make for five dollars is not more effective, and I implore you to find the cheapest and most effective way to clean a jacket.

Next time you clean your jacket, think of what kind of stain it is, and then what the best way to clean the stain is. If you decide to use your own mixture of chemicals, please remember to never mix ammonia and bleach, and to not get any chemicals on your skin. Be safe, and experiment your mixtures on other white clothing before you use a lot of it on a valuable chef’s jackets.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Thomas Keller Interview

Thomas Keller Imparts Wisdom onto CIA Students
Renowned Chef & Board of Trustee Member

by Sarah Lubitz, Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, from La Papillote 

On October 7th, I had the honor of interviewing Chef Thomas Keller while he was on campus for a board of directors meeting here at CIA. Chef Keller is a chef that often needs little introduction because he work tends to speak for itself. But, it certainly does not hurt to go over his list of accomplishments. Thomas Keller has created many legendary restaurants. He started with his flagship, The French Laundry, in Yountville, California in 1994. Bouchon followed in 1998, and Bouchon Bakery opened a few years later. In February 2004, Keller opened Per Se in New York City. Ad Hoc opened in 2006, the most casual of all of his restaurants.

For most of here at The Culinary, we look to Thomas Keller as a source of inspiration. His career is one that serves as an example of determination, passion, and innovation. When I realized that I had the chance to interview Thomas Keller, I realized that I needed to ask questions that would be beneficial to not only me, but beneficial to all of the students at CIA. My encounter with Chef Keller was one that I will treasure for the rest of my life. He was kind and insightful, and his calm voice and his laughter made me feel less nervous than I felt. (I was a bundle of nerves!) After the interview, he stayed afterwards to get a picture with me and with other students. I still cannot believe that day happened.

Once I had interview Thomas Keller, I discussed my interview with Chef McCue. He casually suggested that I ask some chefs here at The Culinary the same questions that I asked Chef Keller. Curious to see the results of this, I sought out some chef instructors. Those interviews will be featured in the next issue of La Papillote! The following is my interview with Thomas Keller:

Q: What made you decide to partner with CIA?
A: It wasn’t a decision, it was an invitation from Tim Ryan, who holds a position I have a high regard and high respect for, and he’s a very good friend. I think that his vision and determination in regards to the school has been exemplary and forward-thinking, and I was just happy and honored to be invited to be a part of that and, in a small way, contribute my opinion and my expertise in any way that would benefit the school.

Q: What is the most important thing that you have learned that you can pass onto students?
A: That’s a good question, and it’s been asked before, and I always come back to basically the same two words. Patience, first of all—being patient with your career and your education, being in the moment, and not thinking about where you want to be tomorrow. Because, if you think about where you want to be tomorrow today, you’re not going to get there because you need to be thinking about today and what you’re doing today. And, the most important part of that is having patience with yourself, having patience with those around you, having patience with your career so that you are able to learn, so you experience and gain knowledge in the moment so you can actually appreciate your career. Some of the best times of my career were times when I was a young cook cooking on the line. I always wanted to be the sous chef, and then the chef. If you’re always thinking about that, and not necessarily waking up and going, “Wow, I’m in a really good spot right now. I should just really enjoy this moment. Because in a year, or two years, or three years, I want to be that sous chef.” So, be patient. The second word is persistent. I think persistence is really important, and I didn’t live the patient part of it, I learned that. But, I did live the persistence part of that. You can never let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. If you fail, get up and do it again, find a different way, open a different door. Don’t give up on yourself, don’t let anybody diminish your determination, and maintain that commitment to your career, to your life, to your vision.

Q: What advice do you have for dealing with the high stress of this business?
A: You know, it’s something that—I may be strange, or peculiar, or unique—I don’t find [it] stressful. I’ve always said that what we do is—we’re athletes, I’ve said that for decades. I’m still part of this sports franchise, but now I run this sport franchise as opposed to being a player in this sports franchise.

You grow, you’re the rookie, and then you move into being all of these different players, and then you become the franchise player, the guy who everyone looks to. And, then, you can only be that for such a period of time because it’s a physical activity, you can’t be that for your entire life. You better be planning for that next phase of your life. But, it’s just that; it’s a sports franchise. When you look at sports, or if you want to look at the military, the most extraordinary things happen in those situations when? When the pressure is the highest. You see the most extraordinary plays, you see a soldier doing an extraordinary heroic thing at the time when that stress or that pressure is the most intense. I think we live in that kind of environment and, when we’re on the line, and service has begun, those four or five hours, that’s your moment, that’s your game, and, you’ve got to be on it. You have to be able to deal with that kind of pressure and that kind of stress. When it’s the most intense is when you have to pull yourself out and say, “Okay, I’m going to make this play, I’m going to be the hero. I’m going to do it.” I think that’s important, to have that kind of innate desire and determination to realize when those moments are the highest pressure that you can perform at the highest level, and know you can do it, and without knowing how you’re going to do it. You just know that you’re going to do it. You’re going to respond in the way that you need to respond in that moment.

Q: When you have the time and you are at home, what is your favorite thing to cook for your family?

A: Either chicken or steak. Roasted chicken is always my go-to thing. I love it because there are so many different flavors and textures in a roasted chicken, and there are so many different parts. It reminds me of so many wonderful times in my life. Or, just a really good steak on the grill. So those are my go-to things. Simple food, simple salad, simple vegetables.