Eat's my life
I LOVE to eat, and I’ve also been cooking for more than half my life. I’ve never worked as a cook, and I’ve never taken a cooking class. Most of what I know about cooking, I learned from my mother, and my two grandmothers. Which is not to say I haven’t learned anything from anyone else.
Recently, I received an invitation from Anna Conejero to attend a cooking class at the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management in Panagdait, Mabolo. It was for one day, and I was supposed to participate with the class in that day’s lesson.
The class was divided into several groups. Each group was supposed to cook one dish, with Chef Sean McSaveney demonstrating how to cook each dish.
I was grouped with Anna and a few other, unfortunately, I can’t recall their names,
but I think we did pretty well as a team. Even if we didn’t know each others’ names, our love for cooking and good food united us in our goal of cooking an excellent coq au vin.
French for “rooster with wine,” this dish uses chicken (or rooster) and wine as the main ingredients, with some parsley and mushrooms thrown in.
First step was to season and sear the chicken, which we did using olive oil. When the chicken pieces were nicely seared, we poured the wine into the pot, seasoned it, and covered it, so the pressure building inside the pot would help tenderize the meat.
A pressure cooker can be used in cooking this dish, but some people may consider this cheating. Pressure cooking does make the process faster, so you can use this method if you’re pressed for time. However way you cook it is really up to you.
I was assigned to quarter the mushrooms, which I did with great gusto. I wasn’t used to the knife I borrowed, so it was a good thing I didn’t cut myself. I think I was able to do a good job of slicing the mushrooms, and I decided to go and chop the parsley too. Anna then asked me to cook the mushrooms, and in between shakes of the heavy frying pan (I think it must have weighed three kilos!), I had to take sips of Coca Cola to keep me refreshed.
We then put in the mushrooms into the pot and covered it again, and had to wait for about an hour for the dish to finish cooking. The other groups cooked dishes such as beef bourguignon, osso buco, a really nice fish fillet topped with a very refreshing salad, and perhaps the best dish that day, a rack of pork, deliciously seasoned and baked the oven. To describe the rack of pork as simply fantastic would not do the dish justice, but in this case, I hope it would suffice.
My group’s coq au vin turned out pretty well too, and if some rice had been available that day, I would have poured some of the sauce over it and enjoyed the dish as a Filipino would.
Chef Sean was a pretty good instructor, giving very clear and precise directions, interspersed with funny, sometimes not-so-politically correct wisecracks, but no one seemed offended, so everything’s cool. Anna Conejero was a great cooking partner too.
As for the other students in my group, they were all pretty supportive, welcoming me into their circle.
The best part of the day was getting to wear chef’s whites. I’ve never owned a chef’s jacket, which gives my son Marty one up on me. He’s had whites for two years already, and he’s only five years old. He made his first pizza when he was three, and I guess he’s on his way to becoming a pretty good cook.
Still, wearing those whites put a big smile on my face, and I thank Anna for inviting me to attend the class, and Chef Sean for allowing me to join it.