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Old 07-11-2010, 05:31 PM   #1
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Top Chef University

Okay, I feel totally silly for this, but I was intrigued enough to look into the Top Chef University advertised while watching Top Chef. What sold me for a month's use of it was that the curriculum indicated that it would show me proper ways to use my knives. Like many, I learned to cook from Grandma and Momma. When it says to chop, I chop. The veggies never look like they do in restaurants nor are they especially uniform, which can cause issues when cooking evenly is required. When presentation would matter, I would take my time, which meant that I would sometimes cube items the night before and seal them in baggies, etc.

I feel like I have already got my money's worth of information from the "university." Within the hour, I found that I was using the wrong knife to cube veggies, learned that I was holding my knives incorrectly, am storing them wrong, and also learned that I can easily pare down the drawer full of knives which we never use...because the other knives do the same job. (I did say I am storing them wrong!)

While I clearly do not feel that this program is for the serious chef, I think it is definitely helpful for the kitchen magician who wants to add to his/her kitchen skills in the terms of saving time and learning basics. The lessons are broken down into nice groupings which allow someone to pick and choose the path. It starts with kitchen organization and ends with entertaining. In between are techniques for just about everything one could think to do ...again, remember I'm an amateur. Regardless, I cannot wait to get to the seafood unit!

Today, I learned about kitchen organization, knives, basic cutting techniques and the proper way to slice, dice, and use onions and garlic - which included how to make my own garlic paste.

I expected very little from the 'Top Chef University' and am very pleased and surprised at the practical suggestions and the instruction. Dinner tonight: Something with garlic! And I know the correct knife to use! Who knew!?

The monthly cost was cheap - less than the cost of two people plus popcorn at a local theater and there is a 1/3 discount for yearly subscriptions. The lessons can be stopped, reviewed, or viewed sequentially or at one's own leisure. I like that each 'unit' is broken down by in mini-lessons. For example, the Kitchen basics Unit was broken down to:

  • Getting started by organizing your workspace, managing recipes, managing your workspace, and hygiene
  • Pantry Organization
  • Refrigerator and Freezer Organization
  • Introduction to knives
  • Pots and Pans 101
  • Kitchen Tools and Utensils
  • Kitchen equipment and small appliances
The next unit is techniques which started with an introduction of knife skills and working with onions and garlic. It then goes through veggies, fruits, herbs and spices, which will reinforce the proper knife skills. At the end of the unit is a test, though I've not got there yet.

The university is hosted by favorite Top Chef contestants and feature a lot of recipes once you get past the basics. Though I felt silly for giving this a try, I may very well end up being rather proud of my Top Chef University student status. If anyone else is giving it a try, PM me! We can start a thread to discuss what we learned.

~Kathleen
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Old 07-11-2010, 08:48 PM   #2
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sounds interesting. doubt at my age i could change what i do. i mean well, i organize my pantry, cupboards and so on. in very short time, it is back to willy nilly. lol. i know where everything is but it looks like a mess. i do take to heart ways to make my equipment last longer. i do learn a lot on d.c. almost everyday. thanks for the info.
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:23 PM   #3
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Wow! Nice to know that it can be broken down to mini-lessons. So, it means that we can choose what kind of lessons are we going to enroll? I think, I want to give it a try but not this time yet because I don't have a time as of now. :(
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Old 07-23-2010, 07:51 PM   #4
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Course Sequence

Quote:
Originally Posted by CookLikeJulia View Post
Wow! Nice to know that it can be broken down to mini-lessons. So, it means that we can choose what kind of lessons are we going to enroll? I think, I want to give it a try but not this time yet because I don't have a time as of now. :(
I initially thought that was how it went, but here is how it works. Monthly subscribers must work sequentially through the lessons but can review anything they have unlocked at their whim. Yearly subscribers can jump forward or backward as they wish in any order they wish. Ironically, I wanted to view the kitchen basics which is why I signed on to the course with my monthly subscription, and that was the first course. I loved it so much that I knew I would stick with it and changed my monthly subscription to the yearly because it would save me $100 bucks. (One can change from monthly to yearly within the first month without losing money.) The monthly subscription is $24.99 and the yearly is $199/year.

I'm very pleased with the courses and the price. It's entertaining and fun to practice the things they have taught. At the local cooking school, I would have had to pay twice what I have paid so far to take a kitchen basics course and, while I'm no expert, I'm not a novice cook. Here is their FAQ page. I've been on vacation for two weeks so the timing for me is perfect.

~Kathleen
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Old 04-24-2011, 06:37 AM   #5
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I think the course sounds great and good for you. Have you finished yet? And what are your thoughts on it now. I would love to hear your opinion. I also know that Rouxbe is doing an online cooking school. Has anyone checked out that one? I am wondering if they are similar or if one is better than the other?
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