What I Learned at L’Academie.

[ 6 ] January 22, 2014 |
One of my favorite creations from class:  Classic Eggs Benedict

One of my favorite creations from class: Classic Eggs Benedict

Twenty weeks is hard to cram into one post but I will certainly try, these were some of my favorite weeks to date.  Last year I took on the challenge of completing L’Academie de Cuisine’s Culinary Techniques 101 (CT101) course, which is designed for individuals who are amateur chefs that cook often at home or people that are already established in the field with minimal professional training.  I took the course to see if I should explore a career as a professional chef.  I quickly learned the chef life is not for me.  The course was an unparalled experience that saved me a ton of $$$ because it gave me a small peak into what the professional school would require.

Each week the classes focused on a new topic i.e. Knife Skills, Pork, Bread, Eggs, etc.  These classes took an in-depth look into each subject area by dissecting every possible question you might have about the subject food.  I studied under Chef Allyson Lara, who I like to call the “walking food encyclopedia”.  She knows everything about food!  Having a teacher who is this knowledgeable made the experience even more worth the time and money spent.  Chef Brian Patterson was the instructor for the Thursday classes and I had the opportunity to learn under his instruction when he substituted one of our Wednesday classes.  Also very knowledgeable, Chef Brian’s class was very similar to our class without an extreme focus on presentation.  Presentation is subjective in my eyes.  People do eat with their eyes first but I choose to put more energy into what is actually on the plate than how it looks.

The top reasons I enjoyed and would recommend the course are:  1.  The knowledge that I gained as I mentioned above; 2.  The hands on experience that you get;  and 3.  The people that you meet in the course.  Each week, you spend about half the class in lecture, which is the instructor demonstrating what they want you to take from the class that day.  The second half of the class is spent with you demonstrating what you just learned in the kitchen.  You are actually using the same kitchen as the professional students and a lot of the same supplies.  Throughout this portion of the class, the instructor is giving you feedback on your creations.  This is one of the most gratifying parts to me because you are being graded instantly and can make said improvements in your techniques.

The students in the class amplified the experience as well because you are truly among your peers.  They love food just as much as you do and they want to learn as much as they can about the subject.  I learned about so many gadgets from my classmates that I never knew existed!  They also helped in providing new ways to cook or prepare dishes.  Who knew there were endless possibilities with moose?!

Why did I say I now know the chef life is not for me (above)?  I am kind of selfish with my space in the kitchen; I really like to work alone.  Being a chef requires you to work with others constantly and I know that I am not built for that life.  “Too many cooks” was a quote that was certainly created with me in mind and this experience showed how much anxiety I have when I work in the kitchen with others.  Though I enjoyed working with my classmates, I knew once these 20 weeks came to a close so would my dreams of becoming a professional chef.

I am grateful for L’Academie de Cuisine.  Before I started the course, I was an assistant for close to two years spending tons of time learning about the various cooking techniques.  I knew how to cook when I entered the building but I left knowing why I needed to do certain things in the kitchen.  They have a talented staff of individuals with a wide range of culinary experience and plenty of classes to help you reach the next level in your kitchen skills.

Now that the 20 weeks are over the hard part is figuring out what I should cook first??  Butterflied lamb or stuffing my own sausages??

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Category: Announcements, MD, Various Cooking Styles, Washington D.C.

About the Author ()

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Panama, Washington, DC and North Carolina. All four places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9, FOX 5 DC and WJLA (ABC Affiliate) News Channel 8. During the 2016-2017 football season, Johnna aired on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (CSN) show, Redskins Life, as the weekly tailgate host. Johnna is currently a regular contributor to the FOX Baltimore Weekend morning show.

Comments (6)

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  1. Johnna,

    Super article! It was great having you as part of the class. Maybe we should all continue the next class together. I always need some new tools, and Allyson and Alan can tell us about some more. The best part was having a bunch of like-minded souls together learning more about their passion.

  2. Lauren says:

    Congrats! Such a great course.

  3. Johnna says:

    Thanks Rene!!

  4. Johnna says:

    Thanks Lauren!!

  5. Thank you so much for your great review of the class! I had so much fun last semester with you all – what a great group! I start another full class tomorrow so I hope you’ll come join us for a visit soon. Anyone you know interested in taking the course? Chef Patrice is teaching another session on Wednesday nights, April 9 – Aug 20, 2014. Look forward to seeing you soon! – AL

  6. Johnna says:

    Thank you Chef Allyson!! I am spreading the word everywhere I go and I will look into Chef Patrice’s course, he is the next hurdle I need to get over in the cooking world. So talented!

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