Summit Stop: CMC teaches culinary arts from around the world
April 17, 2011
BRECKENRIDGE – As the winter season winds down and the quieter mud season begins, it’s easy to begin daydreaming of getting away to more exotic and exciting destinations. But if a European vacation or trip to southeast Asia isn’t in the budget this year, Colorado Mountain College offers a unique alternative so you can escape if only for an evening and only with your taste buds. For the second year, the Center for Lifelong Learning at CMC is running it’s Culinary Adventure Series, offering one-night excursions into the cuisine of northern Italy, the eastern Mediterranean, Thailand and more.
The classes are self-led, challenging students to take on authentic, but simple recipes under the guidance of CMC chefs. Instructors encourage experimentation, creativity and imagination in cooking, explaining that recipes are just guidelines that can be molded around whatever ingredients are available and what sounds good to the chef.
“Try to be more imaginative when you cook,” chef Pierre Luc advised a group of students at a class on French cooking from the Provence region Friday. “It’s like an artist to a painting: we can try to give you the basics, to learn to chop and things like that, and after this – you’re free.”
Students arrived to Friday’s class to find a table laid with colorful, fresh ingredients and chef Luc waiting behind an industrial stovetop to open the lesson with a demonstration. While describing the Provence region and its cuisine he began to saute boiled tomatoes with peppers, garlic, white wine, artichokes and plenty of butter that will become a sauce for the scallops he is searing in another pan.
The generally popular evening culinary classes can accommodate between 6 and 12 students.
When Luc finished with the demonstration and the scallops had been devoured, he and chef Ian Buchanan gave the students a quick tour of the kitchen and set them loose to try their hand at the French menu laid out for the evening.
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Each student is given a recipe packet and the class broken down into smaller groups. Each group decides “democratically” who will make each dish.
The menu, while true to the cuisine of the Provence region, is not difficult, the chefs promise. The hope is that students will be able to take lessons and dishes learned in class and use them at home.
“All the recipes are very simple,” Buchanan said. “Because we want to make it easy for you to do it again.”
Friday’s menu included a tomato, goat cheese and onion tart, stuffed zucchini, ratatouille and rice pilaf Provencal.
The classes, which are generally held from 6 to 9 p.m. conclude with a meal, giving students an opportunity to taste their classmates’ and their own creations.
In addition to the culinary adventure series, CMC will be offering a number of other cooking classes through the summer, including skills workshops such as a sushi making course, culinary date night classes and summer grill and teen cooking series.
Students must come in and register for their first class in person, but can register for subsequent classes online. Classes are often open for registration the same day.