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Understanding The Culinary Arts Training Terminology

Jul 4, 2008
No one ever said that a culinary arts training program was easy. It takes real skill and dedication to make it work. It also takes an open mind when it comes to obtaining that sought after job across the country, and then having to relocate.

You have to go where the work is and what is best for you. Culinary students from all of the top schools can tell you that it is not a cake walk. You have to be willing to check your ego at the door and learn all of the technical terms, if you want to succeed at cooking professionally.

For those who elect not to go through any formal culinary arts training program, in order to obtain a culinary degree from one of the best culinary schools, there is still hope to learn those technical terms that plague the novice home chef. Words such as: coddle, poach, julienne, and chiffonade can all be confusing to those not well versed in the kitchen dictionary of culinary techniques.

There are many resources in the culinary community to help you learn some of the most foreign terms. A simple web search of "culinary terms" yields great results; however, just in case you missed it, here are some definitions of the more obscure terms. Chiffonade literally means "made of rags" and is a technique used with a knife on flat, pliant vegetation, such as basil, lettuce or cabbage.

Using basil as an example, you simply stack the pieces of basil on top of each other. You then roll the basil into a tight round tube. The next step is to run your knife down the length of the tube and cut into fine strips. You have now mastered the chiffonade technique.

Did you know that to "coddle" is to slowly cook a dish to just under the boiling point. This term mostly applies to eggs, such as in the poaching technique. There are hundreds of other terms tossed about frequently in the kitchen. No one is expecting you to be a culinary whiz and know them all right off the bat. Culinary students work continuously on learning these terms and techniques.

The next time you come across culinary students struggling to learn the technique of a chiffonade, you will be able to instruct them. You will know something that they do not know yet and it does not matter if you are in a culinary arts training program or if you have a culinary degree.

The whole point of cooking is to learn something new each time you set out to prepare a dish. You will learn from your mistakes and make the whole journey worth it in the end.
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