Course Review: George Brown Culinary Arts 1

Reading Time: 9 minutes | December 25, 2019

Many people might be thinking about taking the George Brown Culinary Arts 1 class. If you are in the “thinking about it” category, you’ve come to the right place as we lay out the details for you.

Our objectives for picking George Brown Culinary Arts 1 Course 🎯

  1. To learn the basics of cooking great meals – we don’t want to eat out all the time.

  2. To learn knife techniques – we consider this to be a life skill.

  3. To be able to read and follow recipes properly.

  4. To have extra food to meal-prep for the ensuing days after class.

  5. To learn a life skill, together, at a well known culinary school – the real deal.

Course Information 🔖

  • Course Name: Culinary Arts 1

  • Course Code: HOSF 9088

  • Institution: George Brown College – St. James Campus

  • Hours: 48 (our class was Sundays from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM)

  • Method: demonstrations, hands-on practice, no exams.

  • Cost: $821 CAD per person as of October-December 2019 cohort

Would we recommend Culinary Arts 1 to peers? 10/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Yes. To get you started, this is a great beginner course. It also takes it to the next level when Chef goes through their knowledge in the industry. Our Chef, Brent Makohn, was working in industry for over 25 years before instructing at George Brown.

George Brown Culinary School is extremely professional and gives you a taste of what it’s like to be in an industrial sized cooking environment. We may even take another course in the future with George Brown.

Does Culinary Arts 1 meet our objectives? 10/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

In addition, I have a greater sense of appreciation for home cooked meals. It also taught us a whole slew of things we did not know. See Tips & Tricks section for additional knowledge from this class!

How did the food taste in Culinary Arts 1? 6/10 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A big part of the class is the food you make and what you’ll have to take home to eat for the next 3-4 days. We have very specific taste buds. We enjoy foods with some spiciness to it. We found many of the recipes we went through were a little light to our taste buds. Culinary Arts 1 is predominately French Cuisine.

Course Outline 📖

Equipment 🔪

Required Equipment (at minimum)

  • Set of knives (8-10 inch French, Serrated and Boning)

  • Paring knives

  • Honing steel – for the most part, we borrowed

  • Knife bag or toolbox – we put all of our utensils into simple plastic box.

  • Wooden Spoons

  • Metal Spoon

  • Rubber Spatula

  • Whisk

  • Tongs

  • Vegetable Peeler

  • Ladle (3-ounce)

  • 1 measuring spoon

  • 1 measuring cup

  • Tasting spoon

  • Tasting fork

  • Small plate

Also listed in the course outline but not a must

  • Pastry Brush – we made a pie but didn’t actually use this brush

  • Scissors – we used knives to cut string or parchment paper.

  • Side towels – 2 white tea towels come with your uniform kit.

  • Plastic/Cavas bag to bring product home in – we carried a little shopping cart and used reusable bags.

  • Containers to take food home in – we brought containers but the class will also have plenty of takeout containers in case you didn’t bring any. It’s just wasteful so try to bring your own containers or reuse the ones from class.

Other useful items not on course outline

  • Electronic measuring device – this was the one item we wished we prepped ahead of time because all 20+ students are trying to measure their ingredient portions and you’re waiting in line to measure yours when you could just bring your own.

  • Temperature measure for meats –

  • Meat beater

  • Small bowls – to grab ingredients such as flower or oil

Uniform Requirements 👩🏻‍🍳👨🏾‍🍳

In your first class, you do not have to show up in uniform. Bringing your own knife set and having the materials prepped makes you a great student. However, if you don’t have anything yet, you can wait for the Instructor Chef to go through the class. They will have extras you can use.

You’ll receive a voucher to go to George Brown’s Book Store (200 King St E, Toronto, ON M5A 3W8). It’s best to go in-person to try on the sizes because they are deceiving. I usually wear a Small, but in the Chef’s uniform, I was 3XSMALL.

Everyone goes to class prepared with their jacket, pants, apron, hat, and side tea-towels. These all come with the voucher package – you do not have to purchase extra. The only item that DOES NOT come with the package is safety shoes (steel toed, black). They sell a couple of types at the book store if you choose to buy from there, or Walmart might have some.

A typical Day

Set up of the class

Each person gets their own station at a stand of up to 4 people. At the beginning of each class, you make sure you get your equipment set up, prepare your cutting board (with wet paper towels underneath to prevent it from sliding), and/or your oven is turned on to start pre-heating. If you have a great chef, they’ll have your major ingredients (e.g. celery, onion, carrots, meat) already laid out on your station.

Chef’s Demo

The Chef will usually start off our classes with a quick demonstration of what we’re making today. Some recipes Chef will demonstrate how to make. Some recipes that Chef demonstrates, students will get the opportunity to make it too. During this time, our Chef kept asking if we’re following along. Our Chef loved it when someone can read out the recipe and instructions because they may miss steps! Of course, that depends on your Chef!

Lab Portion

When the Chef is done their demonstration portion, they’ll send you back to replicate what they just taught. Sometimes, it might be in the middle of a recipe because Chef is waiting for something to boil. Other times, it might be that Chef is completely done the recipe and sends you now to replicate. Whichever way, there is plenty of time to do what you need to do.

Lunch time

Depending on when you finish the morning class, we got about 30 minutes break. Most of the classes, we were able to eat what we made for lunch so we didn’t need to bring a lunch! If you want to go out to eat, there are many restaurants in the area. Sometimes, we were taking lunch break at 11:15AM which meant that lunch restaurants weren’t open yet. Not to fret, there are two Tim Hortons in the area.

At the end of each class

You will wash your equipment in a process of three sinks: scrub, rinse, sanitize. Package your food. Go ‘shopping’ for any left over raw ingredients (e.g. left over parsley, onion, meat, milk). We typically finish class at 3:00PM. We never actually went until 5:00PM because we were all very quick!

Our delicious dishes 🍳

You’re probably wondering about some of the dishes we made. Here it is!

Tips & Tricks from our first course at George Brown College’s Culinary Arts 1 Class

Here are some general notable tips we learned at the George Brown cooking class. It’s just a list, in no particular order.

  1. Dicing garlic, add a bit of salt and use the side of the knife to press against it for a puree.

  2. Broth and stock are different

  3. Egg shells contain a lot of egg whites left, you can scrape it with a spoon

  4. Dicing onions ‘Julienne’ style

  5. Dicing means holding the knife with a pinch using right hand and open palm on top of the knife with left hand.

  6. A good knife can last you a life time…

  7. A stone or a (pointer) can sharpen the knife

  8. Put garlic inside a bowl, toss it, and the garlic outer pieces will remove itself. Mason jars work too.

  9. Beef stock cooks for 8 hours, Fish stock is 20 minutes, and Chicken stock is 3 hours. Use the bone; make a mirepoix, and then dump out the bones. Nothing left apparently! Keep it just under boil.

  10. Don’t put hot food into the fridge because the cold on the outside captures the heat on the inside; releases bacteria that won’t disappear even after heating up the food.

  11. When health inspectors come for a visit, they want to see your can opener and your meat cutter first. Once these two items are good, then you’ll have a breeze getting the rest of the space inspected.

  12. Use cheese cloths for spice bags. Tie it and throw it inside your food. Thyme, parsley stems, clove (dried), and peppercorn. After you’re done, take out the spice bag. This way you don’t eat the spices if you don’t like them.

  13. Tomatoes peeling: Take out the pit and mark an X on the other end of the tomato. Throw it into boiling water for about 10-13 seconds. Remove and the skin easily comes off.

  14. The smallest knife (hand held knife) was very handy! It was used to take out the pit of the bell peppers, peel tomatoes, etc.

  15. Stabilize cutting board with wet napkins.

  16. Always use dry tea towels because wet ones cause transfer of heat if you’re going to pick up hot items.

  17. Use a paper towel to do a quick whip through the top of the stock to get rid of any oil.

  18. Seasoning is always: salt, pepper, MSG, lemon juice

  19. Herbs and seasoning go in last.

  20. Soups with protein; reheat to 160 Degrees Fahrenheit to get rid of the bacteria

  21. To make a roux, place twice the amount of flour on heated butter.

  22. Make sure to keep mixing the edges of the roux and the veloute, otherwise, it will turn out burnt.

  23. Pancetta is a pork that is cured.

  24. Swiss chard is a veggie with red/green leaves.

  25. Chiffonade is the ribbon cut where you fold the leaves and cut in slices.

  26. In a soup, all veggies should be diced to little pieces enough to put onto a soup spoon.

  27. Pargiano Reggiano cheese ferments for about 2 years.

  28. Riesling white wine can be used for cooking.

  29. Use a pastry pipe (squeezer) to get the swirls according to the Duchesse potatoes.

  30. Add butter. Butter supposedly makes everything better.

  31. Peel potatoes by dropping it in hot salt water. Dry out. Then peel the skin.

  32. Use hands to catch the egg yolk (remove egg whites) to put into the mashed potatoes.

  33. Don’t put too much Nutmeg. Otherwise, the entire dish will taste like Nutmeg. Same idea for cinnamon.

  34. Made lasagna and quiche! Never made either items in the past but have heard about it in crossing. Was great.

  35. Cook lasagna noodles pieces in water and then soil it in veggie or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) to set it on the side for use later. Lasagna uses a lot of cheese – a lot!

  36. Broken lasagna noodles are ok.

  37. Pie crust is literally made of shredded butter and flour, and a tiny bit of water. The “uglier the better in baking” says the Chef.

  38. Drop the warmed up milk into the battered eggs slowly to refrain from cooking it into scrambled eggs.

  39. Cut onion in half, bay leaf around it, and use cloves to nail in the bay leaf.

  40. Sweat the onions and then add garlic. Garlic will burn otherwise.