A Day With The Stratford Chefs School

7 Jul

Do your dreams come true? One of mine did a little while ago, when I went to The Stratford Chef School. For one of its classrooms, the school uses the fabulous kitchen of Rundles in Stratford, Ontario. Eleanor Kane, founder of The Stratford Chef School contacted me, wondering if I was interested in visiting the school and seeing what they do there. I’m so happy that I said yes, because it was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had. When I got there, I was very intimidated because all the student chefs were running around the kitchen with knives, cutting boards, and pans. They were being safe, but I just needed to make sure you knew how busy it was. At the school, they were at the student based stage. This stage is when two chefs combine their thoughts, creations, and recipes to make a several course meal. Those chefs will assign a dish/course to each of the other student chefs at the school. I started out with Cole, who was in the baking section – because I really enjoy baking. The two desserts on the menu that day, were a pear tart with prune ice cream along with red wine sauce, and an apple tart.

A sneak peek of how the apple tart turned out!

A sneak peek of how the apple tart turned out!

I started by peeling the apples and accidentally cut my finger! Oops! It was all good though, I got a bandaid on it and continued working. You’re not a chef unless you cut your finger once in a professional kitchen! After that, we got the previously-made prune cream out of the fridge and put it into the ice cream maker. It took under ten minutes to make some creamy goodness. When the ice cream was done, I got pulled away by Tara and Chef Aaron Linley (who was the Master Chef that day and owns Bijou Restaurant along with his wife Bronwyn) to make sushi! I had never made sushi before, just watched it being made, so this was quite an experience.

Shrimp cooking in boiling water!

Shrimp cooking in boiling water!

First, we had to cook the shrimp so we put them in boiling water and then into a snow bath that we had so conveniently gathered before (Tara and I may or may not have had a mini snowball fight).

Giving an ice bath to the shimp!

Giving an ice bath to the shimp!

The coolest step for me was actually making the sushi because it was very tactile.

Sushi Time!

Sushi Time!

On a bamboo board we laid down a rectangle of white sticky rice, covered it with seaweed, and flipped it over.

Learning how to make sushi from a pro!

Learning how to make sushi from a pro!

Sometimes, we wouldn’t flip it over so that the rice would be on the outside. Either way, the next thing we added was julienned cucumber and carrots, and the shrimp. We then used the bamboo board to roll up the sushi. It was very hard because you had to roll it very tight. After it was rolled, we cut it into equal peices and put it on a plate with some wasabi.

Sushi is finally done! Yum!

Sushi is finally done! Yum!

At that time, everyone had finished their dishes and it was time for tasting! There were too many dishes to count so I’ll just mention some. First, we tried mussels that were dressed with fresh, diced tomatoes, herbs, and a great vinagrette. I don’t usually like mussels but these ones looked so good, so I just had to try one. Guess what? I liked it! It was dressed so nicely that the mussel tasted great! One of the next things that were put out for tasting was a great salad with amazingly cooked potatoes, pearl onions, portobello mushrooms, goats cheese, and a balsamic vinaigrette.

Best salad ever!

Best salad ever!

Yum! That was probably my favourite thing. Everything was paired so nicely. Another dish that we ate was rabbit. I was a little bit sad to be trying it because I love rabbits but, when I tried it at first, I was in heaven. It was so juicy, tender, and just utterly sensational. It tasted a little bit like chicken, if I had to compare it to something, but, in my opinion it was better. I’m going to skip to dessert, because I can’t wait to tell you about it. My favorite out of the two would have to be the pear dessert with the prune ice cream and the red wine sauce.

Pear tart with prune ice cream.

Pear tart with prune ice cream.

It was a perfect pairing. The sweetness of the pear was cut with the unique ice cream. I don’t even have words to explain how much I liked it.

Mmmmmm.

Mmmmmm.

The whole experience was a great one! She has now retired from the Stratford Chefs School, but a very special thanks to Eleanor Kane for setting me up. I’d also like to thank all the chefs for teaching me many things I didn’t know before. What an amazing opportunity!

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