There’s a strong sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from cooking your own meals; from taking ingredients and combining them to create eye-catching and mouth-watering dishes that can please you and your family and friends. The only problem: For many of us, cooking looks so complex and frustrating that it doesn’t seem worth our time.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, all it takes to build confidence in the kitchen is a firm grasp of the basic concepts, methods, and techniques used every day by chefs. While cookbooks are pretty to look at and cooking shows are certainly entertaining, neither of them truly teaches the lost art of cooking; neither of them truly demonstrates the fundamentals and step-by-step strategies that go into creating a wide range of dishes.
With just a bit of education, you can master how to cook and forget about being anxious in the kitchen. You’ll be able to
- transform everyday ingredients into restaurant-quality dishes,
- create delicious meals for both casual weekday dinners and large holiday celebrations,
- learn how to work with unique tastes and ingredients to expand your palate,
- avoid spending money on expensive meals or unhealthy fast food, and
- rediscover the joy of cooking and eating.
Of course, it’s rare to find a truly gifted chef who can actually show you how to cook; who can engage your mind to think about food in new ways. Now, The Great Courses has joined forces with the prestigious Culinary Institute of America to give you just that. The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is a course of 24 highly visual and instructional lessons in which you’ll learn about and build all the foundational culinary skills you need to turn out delicious and impressive meals. Filmed on location at the CIA’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley, California, and delivered by Chef Bill Briwa—one of the CIA’s experienced instructors and a chef with more than 35 years of professional experience—these lessons show you how to cook and evaluate dishes, from starters and main courses to desserts and vegetarian meals. They also offer a master chef’s insight into tips, tricks, and secrets that will elevate any dish you make from good to great.
Master the Skills for a Great Meal
Even though cuisine changes constantly and tastes come and go, there’s a stable foundation on which all cooking rests. It is this foundation that Chef Briwa shows you how to build. To do so, he’s developed these lessons around three broad themes:
- Working with high-quality ingredients and knowing what those ingredients can and cannot do
- Understanding basic cooking techniques and knowing when to use them
- Tapping into—and appreciating—the intriguing interaction between taste and flavor
And it all begins with a thorough introduction to building your essential kitchen. To get you more comfortable in your surroundings, Chef Briwa demonstrates how to organize your kitchen so that you can make the most of what space and cooking surfaces you have. He’ll help you become savvy with picking and using a kitchen’s most important tools, including knives, pots and pans, and cutting boards. He’ll also give you tips on managing the mess that cooking can sometimes make, preparing your ingredients in advance, and much more.
Explore a Range of Cooking Methods
From there, you’ll explore in depth each of the major cooking techniques any chef must know. You’ll follow Chef Briwa as he explains what makes each technique so different and how it can have a dramatic impact on the look and taste of your food. In each instance, you’ll make a range of delicious dishes and gain the skills to practice cooking on your own.
- Roasting: Try your hand at this classic cooking method that uses dry heat, avoids fat, and requires just a small amount of patience. It’s an elegant art, as you’ll see by roasting a classic meal of chicken and potatoes.
- Grilling: Traditionally reserved for summer, grilling can be done any time of the year with the right equipment. Gain insight into how to grill steak, mahi-mahi, and vegetables to get the right amount of tenderness, texture, and juiciness.
- Poaching: A cooking method that pairs perfectly with a handsome cut of fish, poaching’s use of moist heat delivers a powerful taste payoff. In addition to poaching monkfish, you’ll discover how you can use the remaining liquid to create the perfect accompanying sauce.
- Stir-frying: This classic Asian cooking method using hot oil in a wok is a great way to whip up a quick meal—but it demands organized preparation. Learn how to make traditional stir-fry dishes, including a Vietnamese noodle salad and Ma Pa Tofu.
What’s more, in many cases, Chef Briwa deliberately makes small mistakes to show you what happens when a technique isn’t done properly and to teach you how to avoid them in your kitchen. By comparing successful cooking methods with unsuccessful ones, you’ll become better informed about the steps involved in cooking—in a way you can’t by watching a cooking show on TV, where mistakes are often left on the editing room floor.
Learn to Handle Any Ingredient
The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking shows you how to adapt these methods to every major type of ingredient you’re likely to cook with in everyday life. With Chef Briwa’s insider tips and helpful demonstrations, you’ll find yourself able to handle with confidence these and other ingredients.
- Broths and sauces: Offering depth of flavor and a culinary flourish, broths and sauces can take any dish to a new level. Learn how to use broths to braise and stew large cuts of meat, and whip up international sauces, including a French béchamel sauce and a Thai curry sauce.
- Meat and seafood: Spend several lessons focusing on selecting, preparing, cooking, and serving different meats and seafood and avoiding the mistakes that can make them tough and inedible. Get recipes for everything from the perfect pork chop and hamburger to roasted fish with fennel and mussels with white wine and shallots.
- Herbs and spices: Start making more sense of the vast range of herbs and spices available in the marketplace, and tap into the ways that many of them—including herbs de Provence, Indian spices, and saffron—can enhance your dishes in bold and subtle ways.
- Pasta and grains: Oftentimes the perfect side dish, pasta and grains are amazingly versatile ingredients. In addition to learning how to make your own pasta, you’ll put your cooking techniques to use making pasta soups, rice pilaf, and a risotto with wild mushrooms.
Plus, you’ll see how a master chef plates dishes, pairs wine with particular flavors, and even prepares an entire three-course meal. The result of all these lessons is a comprehensive reference to everything you need to know to become the great cook you’ve always wanted to be.
Discover Lasting Confidence in the Kitchen
Whether you’re learning how to roast a medley of vegetables, make a perfect French onion soup, or poach eggs for a mouth-watering breakfast, you’ll always be engaging your senses in The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking.
Because you’re learning from one of the CIA’s best professional instructors, you’ll be getting a first-hand education in the essentials of cooking from an expert who’s not just entertaining, but trained to teach how to actually cook. Chef Briwa has devoted his entire career to showing audiences around the world the craft behind cooking, gastronomy, and flavor dynamics. A former chef at several California restaurants, he’s also spoken, presented, and judged at professional cooking conferences and competitions, including the International Association of Culinary Professionals Conference and the National Restaurant Association Show.
And since these lessons were produced in the kitchens of the CIA, you’ll be seeing this chef instructor in his natural environment, cooking right in front of your eyes. Taken all together, The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking is a masterful course that lets you peer over the shoulder of a master chef, invites you to participate in the joy of cooking, engages your senses, and leaves you with the lasting confidence you need to make the most out of every meal you cook.