With 68 new knowledge-hungry culinary students enrolled in this term, the Academy of Culinary Arts Cambodia’ campus is again a high-energy scene full of crisp white jackets, flaming stovetops, and busy expert chef faculty!
But what is the daily experience of a culinary student at the ACAC like? And what do those aspiring young chefs have to consider succeeding?
Students will quickly discover that the ACAC is different from high school or a traditional university. With the unique hands-on approach in the various kitchen sections combined with theoretical classroom learning, the Academy is its own special training place.
Here are a few tips and tricks from our culinary instructors to help new students get started on their learning journey.
1 – The Sharper the Knife, the Better!
A sharp knife can be an intimidating tool to handle while learning to cook, but actually: the sharper the knife, the safer it is! Using a dull knife will require you to use greater force and thus increase the chance of an accident. Avoid this by sharpening your knife regularly and reducing the likelihood of slipping while slicing.
2 – Be organized and clean up as you go
An organized kitchen is more than half the battle. One of the first things you will learn with our chef instructors here at the Academy is the importance of cleaning as you go. Before things start getting messy, simply take a few minutes to clean up and create an organized cooking environment.
3 – Be prepared by applying mise-en-place
One of the most important lessons you will learn in the early days of your culinary journey is the importance of mise-en-place, which is French for “putting everything in its place.” This refers to the act of preparing/organizing all of your ingredients and ensuring the items for the recipe are easily accessible and ready to go.
4 – Patience Is a Virtue…Especially in the Kitchen
Patience is definitely a key component of a successful cooking session. Having patience with your cooking means being thoughtful about what you are doing. You are giving the food time to cook properly, allowing the onions to caramelize, allowing the spices to open, and tasting and adjusting the seasoning as you go. Most of these things only take a minute or two but can completely change the final flavour of a dish.
5 – Apply the “First-In, First-Out” (FIFO) Method
Avoid food waste by applying the “First-In, First-Out” (FIFO) method. This refers to the idea that the oldest ingredients and products are used first.
This storage system was designed for food businesses only to serve customers the freshest and safest dishes. As part of every food safety training, you will need to be acquainted with what FIFO means and how to implement it properly.
6 – Avoid Cross-Contamination
It’s pretty much what it sounds like — one thing is contaminating another. In this case, it’s when food bacteria are transferred from one surface to another. Sounds harmless – but definitely it is not. When given enough time, the right temperature and some moisture, bacteria can grow and thrive to levels that make you sick. Therefore, always mind using the proper cutting boards, wash your hands, clean all surfaces, and properly store the ingredients.
7 – The more you diversify your knowledge, the better a chef you will become
There’s usually more than just one way to do something well, and no one cuisine or continent has all the answers. Be open-minded and curious to learn new things. Try applying different techniques, taste new ingredients and never stop learning.
8 – Sharpen all your senses
Any experienced chef knows that there is much more to cooking than just the taste. It’s true that you should taste your food often when cooking, but your other senses like touch, smell, sound, and sight are also assets in the kitchen.