Rated 5 out of 5 by LifeLongStudent Delicious!
From start to finish, this is a delicious course in every sense of the word. Chef Briwa is engaging, knowledgeable, articulate, and has a sincere desire to communicate his knowledge and experience as a chef .
The course begins with the basics--slicing and dicing, appropriate tools, cooking methods, preparation of stocks, and selection of spices. From these basics, he builds on ingredients--vegetables, meats, fish, grains, and eggs. By combining the basics with basic ingredients, he brings to the student (viewer) a variety of preparations. The course concludes with desserts, wines, pairing wines with dishes, and finally, putting it all together in crafting a meal.
With each lesson, Chef Briwa prepares several dishes that the viewer can prepare after the lesson. Most of these preparations are such that they can be prepared with ease, easily obtainable ingredients, and in short time. He does not rely on scripted recipes, but rather, relies on taste by tasting and seasoning during preparation. He emphasizes "plating" the dish for visual and gustatory appeal.
This is a course on which one could spend months to complete, if one chose to prepare every dish. However, for me, I prepared about ten percent of the dishes, and saved many for later preparation. I can't wait to prepare Bachelor's Jam. My family was delighted with each of my preparations. Moreover, because Chef Briwa does not hold to scripted recipes, one completes the course with confidence to be creative in the kitchen, and to try international flavors and dishes. The accompanying guidebook is an excellent on-going reference, and belongs on the cookbook shelf.
Simply put, this course is delicious!
August 24, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by amharach12 Fabulous! Loaded with info for all skill levels.
I wasn't sure what this would offer when I purchased, but it am thankful I did. I have cooked for decades, can follow recipes, but wanted to learn more. This course is in depth for the basics. Includes philosophy behind why you do something like stir fry hot or poach, or what certain spices provide. It is set up as a follow along class with recipes, and you can jump throughout, but all the basic culinary skills are sprinkled throughout and you will gain a wealth of information. I respect the experience and cooking skills of Bill Briwa and have enjoyed making several recipes and learning certain tasks I have performed wrong up until now. Great information presented well in enjoyable lessons. Really gave me back fun and enjoyment in the kitchen!
October 26, 2013
Rated 5 out of 5 by BTdeCA A Deliciously Dense Intro to Cooking
I have just finished lecture number 24 and am half way through the incredible, hard-cover, perfect-bound, color-illustrated course guide book...and, I have committed to viewing ALL 24 lectures again. It is that good. I've only viewed commercial TV’s "The Mentalist" and "CSI" with such enjoyment. As a retired geezer-male with a still-working wife, I knew not how, to neither boil water nor heat oil. I would starve to death with a full canteen and a bag of Ramen noodles lying beside my campfire; if I could build a campfire. But my current marital situation requires me to ensure that my wife does not toil away in the kitchen after having done so at work all day. So, I decided to purchase this course and, Oh boy, am I glad I did. The trouble with most cook books is that they assume so much, too much or are too “nuts & bolts” about the process of cooking. I never knew what simmer, poach, braise, roast or sauté were; or the differences among them. Likewise, never knew a pinch from a dash, a pot from a pan, and bake from broil nor skimmer from ladle. But, in brilliantly clear and easy-to-understand fashion, Chef Bill Briwa explains and shows it all. Seasoned cooks too (pun intended) will find this course a refreshingly new “take” and a “skills builder” on what they already know; or, “thought” they knew.
There are so many "ah hah" moments in this world-class production that you almost have the feeling that you now understand "the meaning of life." Just kidding; but not by much. You will not find a better production on commercial television with their multi-million dollar budgets. I live scant miles from the Culinary Institute of America, at Greystone and have wine-paired and eaten there on occasion. It is a heavenly venue and The Teaching Company is brilliant for having made the decision to co-brand this course at such an esteemed and romantic location.
I recently marvel at my new abilities to roast both vegetables and meat, to sauté vegetables and pan-fry fish and chicken and, do it well. The best part was that my wife marveled too. From the first few lectures, I completely understood the simplicity of the much ballyhooed Ratatouille. It's a vegetable stew, darn it! And, anyone can make it well. You don't need a rat in your hat or Disney Studios to do it right. It's simple. I am now liberated from fear and ignorance in the kitchen. I am now so aggressive (of mind) that you will hesitate to approach me while I'm madly sautéing or stewing unless to hand me a wineglass, freshly refilled. This course is so empowering, so de-mystifying that I've actually contemplated buying one of those recipe books from the "Barefoot Contessa." Lately, “Bed-Bath & Beyond’s” kitchen section greets me by my first name.
Simply put, this course has changed my life, changed my wife's and strengthened our marriage. I no longer sit on the couch like "Jaba The Hut" and ask her "What's for dinner, honey?" Some courses offer change; some offer existential change. This one offers the latter; 50 Stars.
December 5, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by Ark1836 A Measureless Success
I enjoy cooking a nice meal when time allows, which is sadly less often than I would like. This course offered the promise of broadening my skills by observing a master chef. The course did not disappoint. The greatest part of this class was the realism. What I mean by realism is that the chef gets his hands dirty, food sometimes sticks to the pan, etc… If you watch a lot of television cooking shows, as I have, they are more entertainment than instruction—the celebrity chef rarely gets dirty, the camera focuses on the chef's face nearly the entire time until there is a cut away to the perfectly manicured, made-for-television end result of whatever was being cooked. That's certainly not what you find in this class. The camera focuses on what the chef is doing, not just his face. You get the chance to study his technique from start to finish.
While I love this course and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys cooking, there are some aspects that could be improved. Most glaringly, and the reason I docked it a star on course content, is the nearly complete lack of measurements in any of the recipes. Even the course book does not have measurements. The chef tells you to add vegetables, stock, etc… but never tells you how much. I am fine with the idea that exact precision is not necessary, but it would be very helpful if the chef gave approximate amounts more frequently. At least on the video portion of the course, I can watch how much he added of any particularly ingredient and take an educated guess. This lack of measurements, however, really hurts the quality of the otherwise outstanding course book. It is one thing to watch the video then guess at what was added, but it is really hard to practice the recipes later by referencing the course book which contains the recipes without measurements.
My other criticism is the lack of healthy cooking techniques. That being said, the chef was not as bad as some chefs are about loading in tons of butter and cream. I also understand that the goal is to teach gourmet cooking, not healthy cooking. Nevertheless, it would have been nice to have spent a little more time on healthy cooking. Even better would be if the chef gave alternatives—saying things like "this recipe calls for cream but you could substitute skim milk if you want a healthier, if less tasty, alternative." Despite these criticisms, I am still very satisfied overall with the course and am glad that I took it.
July 13, 2015