Food is life. We can’t live without food. In every household someone cooks. They may not be a great cook or they could be a dedicated culinary enthusiast. When it comes to a gift idea for those who cook, another cooking utensil or kitchen gadget usually has a pretty short enjoyment factor. Having attended a boot camp at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), I promise you a gift of CIA Boot Camp class will be the best gift you can ever give to someone who cooks and here is why.
Friends and family agree with my husband’s quippy statement that his gift of CIA gift certificate to me was the single best investment he’s ever made in his eating enjoyment. Funny, but true.
Recently someone asked me what I learned at Boot Camp. My short answer is it changed my relationship with food, preparation and the kitchen. Reflecting back to my time at Hyde Park, I realize it was so much more.
Seven Life Altering Benefits from taking a CIA Boot Camp Class
- Better understanding of the value of measurements and culinary math
- Elevated comprehension of why specific preparations or cooking/baking methods are vital
- Increased confidence in all aspects of meal preparation
- Enhanced focus and organization needed for creating a truly great meal or dish
- Heightened quest for understanding a recipe and how to achieve desired results
- Greatly expanded courage of trying new foods, recipes and preparation
- Increased enjoyment and relaxation from start to finish of a recipe
Though I’ve always enjoyed cooking and experimenting in the kitchen, patience and preparation were not of my virtues.
Less than careful measuring and a sometimes creative use of ingredients did not always achieve desired results. Before attending Boot Camp I would rush through recipes, creating what I thought were short-cuts, but now I understand these diminished the quality or taste of the final dish as well as my enjoyment in making it. I would avoid recipes which appeared to take up too much time.
Now, each time I cook or really prepare something in the kitchen, the white CIA Taste chef’s coat goes on. My posture improves, my mindset changes and this enjoyable seriousness takes over. I read and reread the recipe, pull out and measure all required ingredients before I begin.
Recipes in weights are now simple, they make achieving desired results much easier. Prior to CIA I would have avoided those recipes, confusing them as being too difficult or inefficient. A kitchen scale is your friend and another super gift idea. If a recipe says cream for seven minutes, set the timer and do as you’re told, the results will astound you. I’ve found the enjoyment of the final product is enhanced by time spent making it.
I had never made homemade pasta before Boot Camp, now its the only kind we eat. I follow the recipe from class, its so easy. A motorized pasta machine (last year’s anniversary gift) makes it a breeze.
Here is a recent fabulously successful cake I made for a friend’s birthday. I started with my Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft book by the CIA, consulted with some websites and Instagram for inspiration. I never made a jaconde sponge cake prior to Boot Camp. This was the very first time I tried a piped jaconde paste decoration. Before, this would all have been too difficult to even attempt. The strawberry whipped cream filling was my careful take on another recipe. By the way, I have yet to take either the Pastry or Baking Boot Camp classes.
CIA Boot Camp classes come in all flavors and sizes, from two days to five, click here for the latest schedule. Many but not all of the classes are offered at the three main locations, the main campus at Hyde Park, NY, San Antonio, TX and Greystone in Napa Valley, CA. For a number of my classmates, Boot Camp was their vacation. Each one said it was worth it and they’d happily take another class.
Holidays revolve around food and the unique dishes prepared to celebrate an occasion. People need to eat. The home cook rarely gets anything more than seat-of-the-pants training, a local class here or there, tips from a food magazine or cooking channel. The gift of or gift certificate towards a CIA Boot Camp, is truly the best gift for anyone who cooks, it is the gift which keeps on giving, to the receiver an those around them.