Each year many of our students take part in the C-CAP preliminary and final competitions in the hope of securing scholarships to some of the finest culinary schools in the country. It is during these competitions that our students put all that they have learned into action, preparing four dishes that could propel them into the next phase of their culinary education.
Many of you will be familiar with the competition dishes, whether you have prepared them yourself under the watchful eye of our judges, or simply admired the finished results on our social channels. Earlier this week, I sat down with C-CAP Founder and Chairman Emeritus Richard Grausman (Mr. G) to find out the importance of each competition dish. Here are some of his words of wisdom on this topic:
French Rolled Omelet (Recipe Below!)
The omelet has been a technique used by chefs for many years to demonstrate a base level of competency and dexterity when hiring for French kitchens. Every chef, at one point or another, will have mastered the technique of making the perfect omelet. For a high school student to show competency here demonstrates two things: practice and speed – both vital for culinary success.
Tomato, Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad
Knife skills are the name of the game here. These skills are impossible to master immediately. Again, it takes practice, repetition and focus. Once in a professional kitchen, C-CAP students rarely have any problems learning the tasks that chefs ask of them. This is in large part due to students mastering knife skills while in high school with C-CAP.
Another important component of the salad is the vinaigrette. The vinaigrette helps students develop their sense of taste and understand the importance of seasoning. One extra drop of vinegar could create a whole new taste, so finding the right balance is the key.
Now, moving on to dishes from the final competition…
Poulet Chasseur avec Pommes Château
The perfect shape and turning of the infamous tourné potato requires time and patience. Practice is the key to mastering this skill. As for the chicken, there are lots of ingredients used in creating the sauce for this dish. Attention to detail and timing are important here, as is using ingredients properly to achieve the right consistency. While creating a sauce is not a skill usually expected of an entry-level position in a professional kitchen, this experience takes C-CAP students’ knowledge beyond entry-level, giving them that all-important edge over any rivals!
Crêpes à la Crème Pâtissière avec une Sauce au Chocolat
There are many things to consider with this dessert – thickness and texture of the crêpe, flavor and smoothness of a properly cooked pastry crème, and consistency and shine of the chocolate sauce. When done right, this can be very delicious and impressive to a professional chef.
In short, the dishes and techniques are chosen to focus teachers on teaching their students skills needed for entry-level jobs. It’s always been C-CAP’s purpose to empower our young students to get jobs in good professional kitchens.
‘Practice makes perfect’ they say, and it seems Richard Grausman has found four dishes that offer exactly that!
By Guest Poster Kieran Cawley, Events & Marketing Coordinator
PRELIMINARY COMPETITION RECIPE #1
French Rolled Omelet (see p. 41-43, At Home With The French Classics)
Yield: 1 portion
1 to 2 tsp of clarified butter
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a bowl, beat the eggs with a small whisk or fork, the more air you incorporate the
fluffier and lighter the omelet will be. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a nonstick omelet pan* over medium-high heat.
3. Add the clarified butter.
4. Add the egg mixture to the pan and start rapidly stirring with a heatproof spatula
while gently shaking the pan at the same time.
5. When the eggs are nearly set but with a little moist egg still remaining, stop stirring
and shaking the pan for a couple of seconds, making sure that the bottom of the pan
is completely covered by the egg.
6. At this point the eggs should be set, yet still moist with no color. Stop shaking the
pan and allow the bottom of the omelet to firm slightly, 4 to 5 seconds.
7. Fold the omelet into thirds by lifting the handle and tilting the pan at a 30-degree
angle. With the spatula, fold the portion of the omelet nearest the handle toward the
center of the pan.
8. Gently push the omelet forward in the pan so the unfolded portion rises up the side
of the pan. Using the spatula, fold this portion back into the pan, overlapping the
9. Turn the omelet out onto a serving plate so it ends up folded side down.
Traditionally, a French omelet should not have any color.
10. Serve immediately.
* Bottom cooking surface of pan should measure approximately 6” diameter.