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  • CIA Baking and Pastry Student Takes a Culinary Crash Course

    Follow Along in Her First Week of Class!

    Author Annie B. Milostan ’25 is a Baking and Pastry Arts major.

    My name is Annie B. Milostan, I am from Phoenix, AZ, and I am a Baking and Pastry Arts student here at the Culinary Institute of America. Fun fact, I lived in Italy for four months learning about Italian cuisine and culture and found my passion for baking! I am currently in my second semester here at CIA, only three more semesters until I graduate! My second semester consisted of four three-week kitchen classes: Individualized and Production Pastries, Basic and Classical Cakes, Hearth Breads and Rolls, and lastly, Café Savory Foods Production. I am in my first week of Café Savory Foods Production with only three weeks until the semester is over. Come along with me in my first week as a baking student taking a three-week crash course on culinary cooking!

    Day One: I am in morning kitchen classes that typically start at 7 a.m. Our chef had us arrive at 6:45 a.m. for uniform inspections and a demo of all the knife cuts we were to be tested on. We had an hour and half to complete 13 different knife cuts, this was the most stress I have felt in a kitchen because I have never done some of the knife cuts before. After completing our knife tray, the chef came over and evaluated our trays individually and gave us helpful feedback. Then he demoed the first mother sauce we would be learning which was the tomat. After his demo we cleaned the kitchen, he placed us in our teams of four, and went over expectations and production for day two.

    Day Two: This morning, we had to make fresh gnocchi pasta, which are a potato pasta. We peeled the potatoes, quartered them, cut them into a large production dice, and boiled them. Once they were fork-tender, we placed them into the fridge to cool. Later, while the gnocchi cooked, we got ready for plating—we used chef’s tomato sauce, but he left the seasoning up to us which we’d be graded on. Meanwhile, while one of my other teammates worked on our clarified butter for production, I worked on fabricating a chicken and helped my teammate do the second one. Once everything was done and plated, we went to a family meal to share what we all made together and discuss how we felt we did. Then back to class to clean and go home for the day.

    Day Three: Soup day! Today each group had to make French onion soup and minestrone. For French onion soup we had to julienne cut our onions and caramelize them with the occasional deglazing, so they did not burn. After this was done, the rest of the steps to make this soup came together and just fell right into place. While I was working on the French onion soup two of my teammates worked on the minestrone. We had to make sure our knife cuts were precise because you can see all the vegetables. Additionally, we had to boil the beans until they were fork tender. We then seasoned our soups and presented them to the chef for grading. Once everything was done and plated, we went to a family meal together and tried each other’s soups. Even though we all made the same thing none of them tasted the same.

    Day Four: Soup day continued. Today each team had their own soup to make along with croutons and a side salad. My team was lucky enough to get tomato bisque, the process was long but very worth it. Each team also got a different vinaigrette for their salads so we could try each other’s and see which one we like the most. We all got a little bowl of four other soups, talked about how we made them, and about their flavor profiles. After the family meal, we went back to the kitchen, cleaned, and went over what tomorrow would look like with a different chef taking over class for Friday’s production.

    Day Five: Mac and cheese day! This morning every team was making a different mac and cheese as a competition, and we had to make rice pilaf and sautéed spinach. My team made a bacon mac and cheese with Gouda, cheddar Jack, and mozzarella cheese. Our mac and cheese turned out well, but our pasta water was not salted enough, affecting how it tasted. My teammates and I don’t like how cooked spinach tastes, so we did not taste our spinach and we should’ve because that also needed more seasoning. We ended early this day, so we cleaned up for the weekend and went home to enjoy our three-day weekend before week two began!

    I enjoyed seeing the culinary side of the kitchen but fully believe that my heart belongs to doing pastries and baked goods. Culinary students deserve props for all the high stress and fast production they must accomplish every day in these competitive kitchen classes.

    Annie B. Milostan - Culinary Crash Course