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It’s Always About the Taste…

That’s right Chef Fans it is the time that I have been waiting for, for so long now. It’s PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!!!! Oh um wait sorry I mean it’s Taste and Flavor class…. in all of its little crafts and carry along classes. What carry along class you ask? Well I like to think of Taste and Flavor as one class broken into three individual classes, that are all about reinforcing and teaching us about the most important thing in cooking of any kind, what the flavor and more importantly the taste of your food is. This is going to be a very picture heavy post for anyone reading this from a smart phone or other such device….

Jumping right in lets take a look at the two sub-parts or off shoot/ carry along classes that I am taking at the same time as Taste and Flavor. The most obvious is Taste and Flavor: Wines, and if anyone can’t figure out what we are learning about in a WINE class that is called Taste and Flavor: WINE…really I don’t know how much more obvious I can be here. We share this class with the Baking and Pastry students that are taking at least this class with us at the same time. If you haven’t figured it out yet we taste wine, and talk about what we get from each wine. There is much more to it then this as we also talk about everything you can think of about wine. How to pair a wine with a dish, how to pair a dish with a wine, you know the thing that every fine dinning restaurant does…

The next class may not be as clear about what we are going to be doing or even really why we are taking it, but once you are in the class it really does make more sense to take it at the same time  as the others. This class is called Physiology & Perception, and it is a very specific narrowed down version of the class you would normally take in a standard college. Physiology & Perception at NECI is all about… yep you guessed it how our senses play a part in Taste and Flavor. We have talked about cells, our tongue and  how our nose actually picks up orders.

Now that we have gotten the carry along classes out-of-the-way lets dive into the meat of the issue, the Real Taste and Flavor! Now we have really only four classes of Taste and Flavor, but this is because it Meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Where the other two classes meet back to back on Tuesday and Thursday, but in these four days of class we have covered and built upon everything we have learned in the class before.With this being the way the class is run I’m going to do just the same with this post leading up to the class that I just had today…

Day 1: This day was all about defining the FIVE, yes Five, taste we have and are taught here at NECI. Now everyone can and probably will argue that you can taste so much more than just five taste but for our learning process we can pick between Sour, Bitter Salt, Sweet, and Umami. We also learned that Flavor is a combination of Taste, Aroma, and Texture, but more on this in day two… After this lecture we marched off into the kitchen to create a plate where each item had to represent one of the five taste. Now I don’t have a picture of the dish I created but here are some of my class mates dishes…First the table setting, and now my class mates dishes…Here we have chimichurri (sour), grilled baby eggplant (bitter), dried fruit barley risotto (sweet), and pan seared hanger steak (umami)…  This is another one of my block mates dishes and this is grits (sweet), shrimp (umami), roasted tomatoes (sour), grilled garlic scape (bitter), and a Parmesan wheel (salt). Now we didn’t actually have to include salt as long as we seasoned everything correctly.

Day 2: This was all about textures and aromas and how they can help make the same dish feel “light”, “medium” and “full body” So what did we do to make this point apparent, we made comfort food…Here is the thing we made two of everything, one in the “traditional way” and the other a “lighter” version. We tried to keep as much the same as we could but small changes had to made. AKA we made a tuna melt, and a Mediterranean tuna salad and then put it on soft bread with lettuce and tomato. Hint the one with melted cheese is the “full-bodied” one… Jumping right in to what everyone saw first pizza… now everyone is going to say that pizza is a full-bodied dish and you are right but you can make pizza feel “light” and to do this you simply make flat bread pizza. Why you may ask well it’s all about the texture. Textures like crispy or flaky tend to give foods a lighter feel, as do aromas like citrus or herbal. The last part of this is the taste themselves, as sour and bitter tend to be “lighter” and sweet and umami are more “full-bodied”. Salt is the balance between the other flavors and can push each of the other flavors to the best that they can be.

Day 3: SPICY DAY!!!! Or as it was actually called taste and beverage interactions, where we made all sorts of spicy foods with different levels of heat and then drank bitter black coffee, highly tannin red wine, water, and fruit punch. Ok enough of this let’s get to the pictures of all the wonderful spicy food. PS this was my favorite day of class so far…hot wings!!!shrimp cooked with chili infused oil…spring rolls with spicy peanut sauce, and a jalapeno lime hot sauce…and of course green curry burritos!!!

Day 4: taste interactions. Today was all about how the taste play off of and interact with one another in both good better and not so good ways. We started today off with tasting the pure taste, and then the combinations that you can make with all of them. Let me tell you tasting pure bitter is just wrong… Sour makes my teeth go numb… Salt is well salt water…Sweet is just what you would think, it is sickly sweet….Umami is well meat water… The combination is what makes things great like…Steak and mushrooms that have been grilled (umami and bitter)…The bowl is fennel that is cooked with honey and white balsamic vinegar (sweet and sour) The nuts are candied and then tossed with salt (sweet and salty). Lastly we come to bacon cooked with brown sugar (umami and sweet)…Close up front we have (from left to right) Broccoli rabe cooked with salt, red wine vinegar, and then fat (bitter with salt sour, and umami). Above this we have chicken and a honey mustard sauce (umami and sweet and sour).

That has been the first four days of Taste and Flavor class, but one part that we have to do for each class is set the table so that we can eat and enjoy our food to the fullest….This is what happens when culinary kids set the table  and have fun with it….

I know it’s been a long post Chef Fans but it has been a ton of information jam-packed into four days of class. The best news is that there is tons more to come and I can’t wait to learn all of it… Until next time Chef Fans remember it is all and always about the taste!


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2 Comments on “It’s Always About the Taste…”

  1. Tori August 23, 2011 at 8:09 am #

    I am so glad you’re enjoying this class!! Iknew it would be your favorite. 🙂 It was one of my favorites when I took it, and I believe it should be a requirement for everyone to take in MOD 1. Maybe their food would be better if they knew this info… Afterall, not everyone can make the food in the cafeteria taste wonderful like you did last year. ;p

  2. Grandma August 23, 2011 at 11:26 am #


    sounds like a wonderful class. Learning so much about taste I hope I can retain all you are telling me.

    By the way I found the goat cheese and also the butter at Whole Foods. I absolutely loved the cheese, and everyone else must have also as it was gone in a very short time. Grandpa and have been enjoying the butter every chance we get and loving it. I’m going to have to keep it on hand as a special treat.

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