California School of Culinary Arts Review - Continuing Education Classes

California School of Culinary Arts (CSCA)

Founded in historic Pasadena in 1994, the California School of Culinary Arts (CSCA) is dedicated to promoting the advancement of education, training and appreciation of cuisine and hospitality management worldwide.

The California School of Culinary Arts teaches the Le Cordon Bleu method, the world’s leading authority on French culinary techniques, training and development.

Le Cordon Bleu is an internationally renowned culinary arts school founded in Paris in 1895 and is the world’s leading authority on French culinary techniques, training and development.  Today the 30 Le Cordon Bleu schools in 15 different countries are attended by more than 18,000 students from 70 countries each year.

Chef Matthew Carrerow Demonstrating Eggs, Eggs And More Eggs

The French were the first to document recipes and structured cooking; therefore, the classical French technique represents a consistent skill set.  Le Cordon Bleu focuses on French technique and classical methods while using modern technology, which blends eloquently with the modern approach used in the United States.

The Le Cordon Bleu method promotes an innovative learning environment of demonstration followed by practical application and which encourages individual creativity, style and cultural exploration.  Students experience close instructor supervision and receive technical and theoretical guidance.  

Instructors at CSCA provide a professional education that brings real-world experience and perspective into the classroom.  The school’s award-winning faculty guides students through hands-on training that inspires students to discover their own creativity and excel at the craft of culinary arts and hospitality management. 

Practice Makes Perfect

California School of Culinary Arts offers 90 accomplished faculty-led classes in a fast-paced, real-world working environment.  The school houses 30 teaching labs that feature industry-current commercial equipment designed for maximum efficiency and usability.

CSCA offers the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Diploma through four different programs: Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Restaurant Management, Patisserie & Baking and Part-Time Patisserie and Baking.  The school is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). With four campuses, the school graduates 1,200 students annually.

In addition to their world famous Chef and Hospitality Training the CSCA offers continuing education classes. These are held twice a month on Saturdays through September at their campus in Pasadena. All the classes are open to the general public and are taught by a CSCA chef instructor and every class has a different food focus. You can read about the upcoming classes in the calendar section of our magazine. This article will feature tips and techniques from the previously held classes.

The Perfectly Poached Egg

Egg Cookery

On May 31 the continuing education class was taught by Instructor Matthew Carrerow and was an Egg Cookery Class. Just as the name implies this was all about the egg. We learnt basic facts and information about the egg and how to cook eggs in the French Style. Basically this meant how not to overcook eggs. It seems we as Americans like to cook our eggs so they have a little color, a little brown on them. The French and this is a Cordon Bleu School consider this to be overdone. Their rule of thumb is no color. Also interestingly a French style omelet (which we learnt to cook) is stuffed differently than we stuff an omelet.  They roll it like a cigar, slit the middle and stuff everything in after it is cooked.

A few pointers I picked up were: Scrambling eggs directly in the pan, taking the pan off the heat source and letting the heat of the pan continue to cook the egg. There was a section on how to perfectly poach an egg and not break it. And the fun section on flipping fried eggs and not breaking the yolks. One of the things that was great about this class is that there were plenty of supplies and you were able to practice after the demonstration. So if you didn’t get it the first time you could try until you did get it, as you’ll see demonstrated in the pictures of my attempts to flip a fried egg. Also this was a hands on course so not only did you get to attempt for yourself the techniques of egg cookery but you got to eat the results.

This Is Me Finally Getting The Flip or This Is Me Flipping Out

The next class is on Strawberries, all I have to say is YUM. Oh and it’s not too late to sign up for the upcoming classes on burgers, desserts, tarts and even beer.

Strawberry Fields

Strawberries were originally called strewn berries.

I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like Strawberries. There must be but luckily I’ve avoided them.  I know there are people who are allergic to Strawberries but I haven’t met them either. The last class I took at CSCA wouldn’t be for either of the above catagories. For the rest of us it was just bliss, cartons and cartons of those delicious red berries, fruits stupendous. Only did you know they aren’t really a fruit but a seed and the delicous tender red flesh is just a recepticale  to support those seeds? Me neither! But that is what instructor Chef Stephen Chavez taught us in his class Strawberry Fields. Want more? Strawberries are full of antioxidants, they come in over 40 varieties, they reproduce through their trailers and the name was originally strewn berry.

CSCA Instructor-Chef Stephen Chavez

In this class Chef Chavez taught us how to make Strawberry Shortcake, Sorbet, Strawberry Mascrapone Tarts, and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

Chef Chavez offered some great tips and techniques

On to the good stuff Strawberries and cooking. They are so versatile and though the recipes presented weren’t very original or exotic they were delicious and Chef Chavez offered some great tips and techniques to take our homemade goodies to a gourmet level. So what did I learn?

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberriy Shortcake made with a biscuit dough. There was a lot of class discussion on this topic. It seems that there is a cultural difference between the easterners and westerners on the base for those strawberries. The easterners say that their traditional base is a sponge/angels food cake and the westerners seemed to be a biscuit. Although I think the biscut thing is more southern and I’m from Utah and it was a sponge/angels food cake base. Well regardless of what we were used to it was biscut bottoms on the menu. We learned how to make them fluffy, flakey and tender. The most important thing is to not overwork the dough. Or it will be tough. Also to not work in the butter to much so it creates air pockets and this makes it fluffier. This means that the butter should be ice cold and no smaller than pea size when mixed in with everything. (This was thanks to student chef Andrew). And a heads up it pays to bring your own equipment we had to borrow knives from student chef Chris by the way thanks Chris.

Strawberry Mascrapone Tarts

For the strawberry part of the Strawberry Shortcake the berries were chopped very small. I alsways learnt to crush them and then the sugar was added and it was mixed and set aside to mascerate. This is where the berries with help from the sugar release their juices yum. And if that isn’t decadent enough for you try adding a splash of liquor. Woohoo.

Drop in an egg to check for proper sugar density.

Next the sorbet. The super fun thing about this came in checking the sugar density. If it isn’t proper the sorbet wont set and it will be runny or melt in your bowl to soon. The trick to this is to float an egg in your mixture. This was so much fun you take a washed egg (salmonella resides on the outside of the shell so cleaning it in soap and water is important).  Take the clean egg and when you think the sorbet mixture is ready drop it inside. It will float and how much of the egg is showing is the trick if it is a size of a quarter then its perfect if it isn’t  it tells you tht you need to add more sugar syrup or more water. It was fun to bob an egg around in my sorbet mixture.

The trick to flakey biscuits is not to over work the dough.

Oh and also another trick is when the sorbet is frozen you cover it with plastic wrap and then you pack it down tight pushing all the air out of it. This keeps air crystalization from happening. Note; you can do this with your store bought ice cream every time you eat some cover it with plastic and it will be as good as the first time.

Strawberries are actually seeds

Another goody we learned was a Strawberry Mascrapone Tart. In order to save time Chef Chavez already had the tart dough pre-made and we just had to put it in the tart forms. Chef gave us a demonstration of making the Mascrapone filling and then set us on our own. This seemed very easy but was the one stickler for me. My cream was to runny (could it be the extra shot/s of liquor I added?) and then upon attempting to fix it it got overmixed and broke down. This means I began making butter, very clever, just not on the menu. I never did get this one right and it will require some at home practice.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry

Then last but not least we dipped Strawberries in choclate and made tuxedo chocolate covered strawberries. Very pretty and of course – yum.  I’ve included a mini video here for you to see a professional dipper.

Strawberry Sorbet

I enjoyed my cooking time at CSCA and my only critisicms are the classes are very basic and even though I picked up a few techniques I was disappointed that they didn’t delve into serious cooking. 

California School of Culinary Arts 
521 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA  91101
Phone: (626) 229-1300      
Fax: (626) 403-8494

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