Le Cordon Bleu Brings Out The Chef In Everyone

Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts helps train the next top chefs, but you don’t have to have dreams of being Charlie Trotter, Art Smith, Rick Bayless, or Priscila Satkoff to learn how to cook. The school offers classes in everything from baking to butchery, from knife skills to packing the perfect picnic basket.

I was invited to check out their classes and, since it’s so close to the holidays, chose Baking 101: Cookies and Confections. And let me tell you, it was sweet!

Chef Karen Hobfoll began the class by circling the room with a bowl full of melted chocolate to get our senses roiling and our stomachs rumbling. She gave us some quick tips, like using bread flour instead of all-purpose when rolling pastries and dough on countertops and using cheesecloth to sprinke powdered sugar without getting it everywhere. One of my favorite suggestions was to spoon or shape the dough for cookies, refrigerate it, and then freeze what you don’t plan on serving immediately. That way you can have fresh baked cookies any time you want! Perfect for singles and people who don’t want to feel obligated to eat an entire sheet so they don’t get stale. (Note that this is optional.)

Because we were making five different types of cookies the dough was prepared ahead of time. Once we got into the kitchen we basically just spooned them onto the sheets and put them in the oven. Sounds easy enough, but I still managed to mess up the Coconut Macaroons. Oh well – they still taste great!

At the end of the class we each had about five dozen cookies to take home. We also received a certificate proclaiming our newfound prowess in baking. As a bonus everyone also was given lunch or dinner for four at Technique, the on-site restaurant.

My son’s back from college this week so I took him and my boyfriend there on Monday. I felt almost guilty using the certificate because a three-course lunch is only $10. Even dinner is only $10 or $15 if you get four courses. Wine and beer is also available (!). What made me feel really guilty is that you’re not allowed to tip. The former server in me wanted to sneak some to them, but since an instructor was holding a meeting three feet away I didn’t think it would be a good idea.

The food, as you would hope, was delicious. They were out of some items, like the lamb burger and the Salted Caramel Pot de Crème, but once we received our lunches we didn’t miss them. The service was earnest but you can definitely tell the students aren’t focusing on front of the house. It definitely wasn’t bad, mind you, but it is obvious that it’s a learning environment. I, for one, am more than happy to help them learn.


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