26th February 2014
Supper Table Blog

Ashburton Chefs Academy – Part 1

I am now a third of the way through my time at Ashburton Chefs Academy, so I thought I would let you know how I’m getting on – and what delights you could be tasting at Supper Club in the summer!

I’m having a fabulous time here in Devon. The first term was all about
mastering the key skills required by a top chef.  I’m now a dab hand at
filleting fish, butchering chickens and making soups, stocks and jus. 
I’m also really enjoying the pastry side of things – the highlights were
making our own croissants and Danish pastries. Anyone interested in
coming to a Supper Club brunch?

The school is also very keen on food provenance, one of the reasons I
chose this particular course, and we have already been on several school
outings (not in crocodile formation, I hasten to add).  Our first trip
was to a small local farm that supplies poultry to the school,
surrounding restaurants and the general public, and takes animal welfare
very seriously.  Here is a photo of me with a two-day old duckling – it
will be ready for slaughter in an unbelievable 8 weeks’ time – who knew
ducks grew so fast!

We have also been to a local butcher, who showed us how they divide up a
hindquarter and forequarter of beef.  After a tip from one of our chef
tutors on this trip, I am now glued to the River Cottage Meat Book,
which has only reinforced my desire to buy good quality, free range meat
where the animal has been treated kindly, and to use butchers who know
all about the farms their meat comes from.

The last week of term was five days of practical exams, involving
anything from preparing and cooking seafood to baking and presenting
little French orange tarts.  You will be pleased to hear I passed all my
exams, with distinctions in pastry and fish. Yippee!

I have just returned to school for the second term from a week’s
holiday.  You would think I might have wanted a break from cooking, but
it’s just encouraged me to try more things!  So instead of putting my
feet up, I’ve been working on my written assignments, making salmon
gravadlax, ginger marshmallows and oxtail stew.

Now we’ve mastered the core chef skills, I suspect things are about to
get significantly more challenging this term.  I’m not sure yet what the
tutors have in store for us, but this week’s highlight will be a trip
to Brixham fish market.  It will be fascinating to see the market in
action, although I’m not so keen on the 4.30am wakeup call!

If you want to see more of the food I’ve been cooking, please take a look at my facebook page, or follow me on Twitter for the latest pics.

Supper club will be back in early summer, held monthly, and I can’t wait
to show off some of my new culinary skills.  The plan is also to open a
catering company from June onwards, so if you have any special
celebrations coming up, and just can’t face doing the cooking, why not
let me do the hard work, cooking up something wonderful in your own
kitchen while you relax and ejoy spending time with your guests.

Best wishes,

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