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[SEA] Culinary Communion


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hey all:

I keep mulling over the course offerings of Culinary Communion, but I never get the nerve to pull the trigger.

Some of their classes seem like a neat way to learn more about cuisines that I love to eat but don't know how to cook; I'm also drawn to the Advanced Baking curriculum. (I probably could teach parts of it, but it'd be fun to have a dedicated time set aside for baking with other semi-serious bakers.)

Anyone taken classes there? What's the scoop?

~Anita

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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A lot of the stuff there is pretty interesting to me too, especially the "Home Chef" ones.

Joe and I bid on a class at the auction at the Shellfish Celebration in January, so we're taking the Indian class next week.. we can let you know then :)

Has anyone taken any cooking classes put on by other organizations? Uwajimaya's class schedule looks interesting too, especially the sushi classes taught by the owner of Mashiko.

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I've taken several classes at Sur la Table on the Eastside. Some of them are really good, some not so great. It really depends on who the chef is. The hands-on classes are the best, but you still don't get a full sit-down meal--just a tasting of everything. They are also using the classes to boost sales in their retail store--not that there's anything wrong with that, but there is a bit of promotion of equipment etc.

Culinary Communion looks interesting. It sounds like a more intimate, hands-on setting. I really like the idea that you're involved in the meal preparation from start to finish and that you get to sit down afterward and enjoy a full meal. I'm interested in some of the wine classes and the Persian, Moroccan and Indian classes. I'll be looking forward to Laurel's review of the Indian class.

Jan

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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  • 2 weeks later...
A lot of the stuff there is pretty interesting to me too, especially the "Home Chef" ones.

Joe and I bid on a class at the auction at the Shellfish Celebration in January, so we're taking the Indian class next week.. we can let you know then :)

Has anyone taken any cooking classes put on by other organizations? Uwajimaya's class schedule looks interesting too, especially the sushi classes taught by the owner of Mashiko.

So, Laurel, how was the class?

There was an article in last week's Times about the popularity of cooking schools and Culinary Communion was one of the featured schools.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/food...470_chef14.html

I signed up on their last-minute guest list and have had 2 emails alerting me to cancellations in booked-up classes. Unfortunately none have been on a night that I'm available.

Jan

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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It was great.. Just being able to use their well equipped kitchen was fun, and we got to try lots of less typical Indian dishes. We also got a pretty well researched handout describing the different cuisines in regions of India, and a short lecture beforehand describing the spices and ingredients we would be using. I think my favorite part was that they weren't really strict about following the recipe exactly (even though they gave us the recipe), and encouraged us to taste and adjust seasonings.

One drawback is that with the large group (9 for my class), you don't really get to participate in everything.

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  • 9 months later...

Now having taken three classes at CC, I feel I can weigh in. The short version is that I've been very pleased with what I have learned. Chef Gabriel is a good teacher, and there's lots of hands-on work ...although as Lauren pointed out, not everyone gets to work on everything. That said, Gabe is good about calling people over to watch key steps of each item so you go home with a working knowledge of the whole curriculum.

My first class was a pickles-and-preserves class in the fall. I've been a home canner for a while, but I really appreciated the chance to get some solid info, try things I wouldn't have made at home, and pick up some new ideas. I came home with lots of great recipes and a small selection of finished product. (That's probably my only disappointment: It seems like the take-home quantities can feel a bit skimpy compared to the cost of the class. I think we got 2 pints each for pickles/jams, for example, which was not even enough to bring home examples of the items I worked on.)

My second class was a charcuterie class in late fall/early winter. We made a bunch of fresh sausages: lamb loukania wrapped in caul fat, bulk mexican chorizo, chicken-apple breakfast sausage, and the like. We also smoked a side of bacon that Gabriel had pre-cured due to timing. (He explained the curing process, too, so we could do it ourselves.) There was lots of good safety and sanitation info at both classes, which impressed me. In this case, each student got to take home 2 pounds each of meat: I chose 1 pound of amazing bacon, 1/2 pound of chorizo, and 1/2 pound of chicken-apple.

Cam and I took another charcuterie class on Saturday... my favorite of all the classes so far. We made a few fresh sausages (chicken poblano, merguez) but also a fair number of cured and/or smoked meats: kielbasa, spanish chorizo, andouille, tasso, bacon, pancetta, etc. Again, we got to take 2 pounds each: We've got a pound of bacon, a 1/2-pound merguez sprial, and 1/2 pound of bulk chicken poblano. We'll go back when the curing is finished and get our other 2 pounds. :wub:

My one caveat about the classes is that a lot of the fun has to do with the group dynamic, which can be thrown off by even one bad egg in groups of this size. At the preserving class, for example, one person was really obnoxious, peppering the chef with off-topic questions while he was trying to explain things, monopolizing the conversation at the post-class dinner, and generally trying to be the center of attention for the whole time. It was really annoying, but obviously beyond the control of CC. The other students in the group were mostly older women who had a lot of patience, but I can imagine a situation where it would have been even more uncomfortable. The charcuterie classes tended to attract a more serious crew (mostly men, both times) and there was a lot less mucking about. We got a LOT done -- especially at the second class -- due to plenty of cooperation, good communication, and a high level of student engagement.

Gabe says that there are lots eG folks who come to his classes, so I know you're all lurking out there. I'd love to hear what you think of the classes you've taken.

~Anita

Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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i took the first of the series of bread classes with rob. he went for me though, and i don't think he'll go to another class. if i didn't feel awkward going alone on a friday night, i almost certainly would have done friday's truffle class. i thought the bread class was well executed, and very helpful - as part of a larger series, i'm sure it would have been even better. my classmates included one guy who monopolized conversations and actually grabbed things / space away from other people. a real charmer. the rest of the class (maybe a total of 14 - it was very full) we took home a proofing loaf each.

i would definitely take guest list classes again...a friend of mine tried to organize a private class (which they do depending on schedule availability) but she was too slow to organize it.

i've done a couple of other local classes - and one from DiscoverU (never again!) and think chef gabriel is the best instructor with the best set-up that i've seen.

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Thanks for bringing this thread up, Della and I took the Cassoulet class last week and was looking to see if anything had been written on CC but didn't find this.

Anyway the Cassoulet class was my first one and I will definately be taking more. I loved the way we were made to feel as if we were cooking together in a friends house. And Chef Gabe is so patient and good at multi tasking.

I agree that I wish I could have done hands on in all areas of the class but they do let you jump around a bit once your role is finished.

and let me say the Cassoulet was fantastic!! Chef even let us make a few more things as conversations brough up ideas. We made parsley juice and a dessert of shortbread cookies with black pepper creme anglaise and a port reduction sauce. I appreciate that Chef Gabe gets excited and tries to teach as much as you are willing to learn.

oh, and we used the andouille sausage that the first charcuterie class made!

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I'm taking the baking series now. I've only been to one class so far, but I found it informative and well presented. And I've been able to reproduce the results at home, which is really the ultimate test.

I've put descriptions and pics of some of my bread up over in the pastry and baking forum. Click here and here.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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vengroff your bread looks like the cover of my Bouchon cookbook! very pretty!

One class with Gabe and I'm on the cover of Keller's book? There can't be any better advertising for the culinary communion than that!

Thanks for the complement, but I've still got a long way to go.

I'm especially looking forward to the class where we get to croissants. That's still a few weeks out.

Edited by vengroff (log)

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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My roomie has taken a bunch of their classes and loves em. I'd like to take some as well when I can scrape some spare cash together. I've chatted with Gabe a couple of times when he's been in the shop - seems like a pretty swell guy.

Bacon starts its life inside a piglet-shaped cocoon, in which it receives all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and tasty.

-baconwhores.com

Bacon, the Food of Joy....

-Sarah Vowell

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I was at the Saturday charcuterie class along with a couple of obnoxious friends :wink: . This was my first class with Culinary Communion and I was pretty impressed - so much so that I signed my wife and I up for the foie gras class in February. The prices are high enough that we won't take a lot of classes at CC, but considering the overall experience they're really not overpriced.

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You and your friends were not obnoxious. You guys were exactly the folks I meant when I said

The charcuterie classes tended to attract a more serious crew (mostly men, both times) and there was a lot less mucking about. We got a LOT done -- especially at the second class -- due to plenty of cooperation, good communication, and a high level of student engagement.

Cam is taking the foie gras class at the end of the month, too, so your paths will cross again. :smile:

Edited by ScorchedPalate (log)

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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I just saw this thread or I would've pitched in sooner. I've taken five or six classes at CC, and have had an excellent experience each time. Gabe is a warm, knowledgeable, and fun teacher. One thing he does very well is to manage the variety of experience levels among students who show up....as experienced cooks and eaters, you wont feel held back by the newer students. The recipes have been very good, and I've been lucky enough that the other students were a pleasure to meet. And, Reesek--it is a very comfortable place to go on your own, any night ow the week. Its not a couple-ey thing at all. The price is stiff (usually $70, or $60 for guest list), but it is a great experience.

If I have any quibble at all (a small and petty one at that), it is that I feel like I have to spend too much time looking for supplies like the right pan or something. Having taken cooking classes at several places in Seattle, I'd say these are among the best you will find.

Oil and potatoes both grow underground so french fries may have eventually invented themselves had they not been invented -- J. Esther
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i'll mostly just second/third/fourth the praise for Gabe. he is smart, funny and engaging, all things i haven't often found in culinary instruction.

(i was most recently at the same cassoulet class as little miss foodie and Della, and Mr. Toast, i'll see you folks at foie gras. i've also taken charcuterie -- not the most recent one, but the one Anita was at. an amazing class. i've since filled my freezer with pork butt and the sausages made therefrom. and several other classes as well.)

my one caveat, somewhat discussed above, is that you should keep a close eye on what the evening's tasks at hand will be, choose what you want to be responsible for, and dive for it. in cassoulet, it was final prep for the cassoulet and making the liquid for it. (plus making salad, which i was assigned.) otherwise, it can be too easy to end up chopping lots of onions for mirepoix. ok, yes, we all need to be prep cooks sometimes, but i found i missed some hands-on opportunities unless i was aggressive in scrambling for them.

also agree with Anita about the one bad egg thing, though i have a suspicion who that might have been.

but CC is a terrific resource, and one i'm very thankful for.

one other note: if you're feeling menschlike, bring a bottle of wine to share with class. i think i brought two to cassoulet. not sure whether i'll dredge up Sauternes for foie gras, but i'm thinkin' about it ...

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Darn, I tried to sign up for the foie gras class, but they'd just sold out. I'm first on the waiting list..............so I sit, praying for someone to catch a cold, or flu.....bad Jan, bad Jan. :blush:

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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I just attended my first class last night. It was on Northern Italian cuisine - part of a 3-part series on regional Italian cuisines. It was great fun and the food was delicious. Everyone there was friendly and jovial and the food was fantastic. I am, in fact, making one of the dishes again at home tonight because it was so tasty. I hadn;t planned on going but a spot had just opened up and I had just gotten paid so I decided what the hell. The only issue for me (and it's not much of one really) is that getting between Crown Hill and West Seattle is a bit on the slow side. Actually, West Seattle now feels much more reasonable to me which means I'll probably finally make it to Mashiko sometime in the next month or two.

Oh, and I am now in the throes of severe kitchen envy. *sigh*

Edited by Placebo (log)

Bacon starts its life inside a piglet-shaped cocoon, in which it receives all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy and tasty.

-baconwhores.com

Bacon, the Food of Joy....

-Sarah Vowell

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Last week in Gabe's baking class we made enriched doughs, my favorite of which was brioche. Today I made brioche a tete at home.

gallery_1327_709_39891.jpg

The process began last night. The first step was to make the sponge from warm milk, yeast, and flour. Here's how it looks after about 30 minutes of fermenting.

gallery_1327_709_23726.jpg

The rest of the dough, consisting of butter, eggs, sugar, salt, and more flour is mixed seperately. Here it is just before addition of the sponge. It's already soft and wet, and the sponge will make it more so.

gallery_1327_709_53381.jpg

After mixing in the sponge, the dough has to ferment for an hour. Here it is before fermenting

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And here it is after fermenting, in the same bowl

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From there it was into the fridge to cool, firm up, and expand just a bit more overnight. Fast forward to this morning and the shaping. I don't have pictures of the process itself, since I only have two hands. Basically one forms a ball as if for a roll, then rolls a pinch into in so that you have the main body and the head formed, and connected by a thin strand of dough. Then you flatten the body, push a hole with your finger, stretch it open a pit and then pass the head up through it from below. The two piecese never seperate. Here's what they look like immediately after shaping.

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Once shaped they are given an egg wash and them left to proof at room temperature for about an hour. Here they are just washed and starting to proof.

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Now fully proofed they are ready for the oven

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Twenty minutes later they are golden brown on the outside and creamy yellow on the inside.

gallery_1327_709_69457.jpg

Just in time for brunch.

gallery_1327_709_84520.jpg

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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We live over in Montlake by the Queen City yacht club. When can we come over and sample these goodies to make sure they taste as good as they look? Wonderful pictures and I'll bet they taste as good as they look. Keep up the good work.

Fred Rowe

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  • 2 weeks later...
I took the Foie Gras class at Culinary Communion on Friday and had a *great* time. I posted a full report on my blog.

Cam thanks so much, I was just thinking last night how that class had gone and was going to post for reports. Sounds fantastic!

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