It’s Time To Learn to Cook: School’s Starting!

For the second time in 5 months, I’m starting school (part-time).

Dana and I studied Food Security in the fall.  It was an amazing course and we both learned a lot (including how to annotate an essay) and are considering taking more soon but I had a chance to take a proper cooking class with my Father and decided to jump at that.  The hands=on format was a big part of the appeal – as is the fact that I can’t remember ever having attended a proper cooking class.

Its Time To Learn to Cook: Schools Starting! George Brown Culinary School

My Father and I have enrolled to George Brown College’s school of Hospitality and Culinary arts.  The program has more than 25 courses (with an optional certificate that has 3 compulsory courses that you compliment with your choice of 6 others from the list).  Participants are required to start with Culinary Arts I (this is what we are starting this evening) which is described as:

“This course is designed to help food enthusiasts develop the fundamental culinary techniques they need to be confident in the modern kitchen. Learn to use commercial kitchen equipment, and study knife skills and safe food handling practices.”

Most of the learning I’ve done in the kitchen has come from:

  • Learning from others/ asking questions – especially my parents and friends
  • Studying food that is cooked by others (professional and otherwise)
  • Experience/ trial and error
  • Television
  • Reading

I’m really excited to have the opportunity to go back to the fundamentals of cooking and see what ‘holes’ in my foundation exist.  I know that my knife skills (of which there is an entire other course) need significant work (mostly in technique) and I expect that to be my biggest challenge at the start.  I also know I’m going to need new shoes (as required by the course) and a set of Chef Whites which will feel rather bizarre at first.  I’m also looking forward to seeing which pieces of equipment I am missing in my basic chef supplies that they consider fundamental.  I’m also really excited to find any major ‘blind spots’ – challenges that I’m having that I don’t even know I’m struggling with!

The biggest excitement of all is getting to study with my Dad.

Wish me luck!  I’ll share my lessons as we go!


  1. I can’t wait to hear what you think. I have considered taking that course a couple of times. Enjoy!

    • Awesome Christine!

      Tonight was night 1 – short evening, orientation and a stock demo (we cook the rest of the nights). Already picked up 3-4 tips that are small, simple things (like cook all vegetables that grow under the ground in cold water and the others in hot) that will change he way I cook. I was a little hesitant wondering what I’d take out of it (little) and I am really confident after night 1 that our instructor (Chef John Dueck from Ago) is going to be fantastic. :)

      • What’s the reason behind that? Do you start the roots in cold water and then add the others after a boil is reached? I adore making and using stock but I’ve never heard this tip.

        • Hi Rebecca!

          I should have made that clearer – that tip wasn’t about stock but cooking vegetables in general. It was an offhand comment that I didn’t drill too far into but he explained it this way; “Most vegetables that grow under the ground are heartier/ denser than those above. It’s important you raise the temperature of them all at once compared to the things above the ground and will keep them crisper.”

          According to the Chef, if you cook potatoes or carrots and start them in cold water, they will be less soggy than just dumping them in boiling water. When you blanch things like beans, etc you would pop them into the hot water after it’s heated…

          Didn’t apply to roasting, etc…

          It’s worth some experimenting to validate (and should be easy by weighing before and after).

          As it relates to stock, I hadn’t realized about the layer of scum in the first half hour and the significance of removing it to get a clear broth. I generally cooked my way through it, emulsifying the solids into my broth…

          Nothing earth shattering but decent tips on stuff I’ve missed… :)

    • Christine,

      It’s been 1 day but I’m really excited. I was a little cautious going in but I simply can’t wait to get back in to week 2 and see already that I’m going to learn a lot… Will update as I go through. :)

  2. I took the course a few years back, and it’s fun. It’s the tiny little tips I remember, like how best to peel an onion. But unless something has changed, the recipes could do with a careful line editor. Enjoy.

    • I’ll keep an eye out for that Kitchenjammin – some great tips already after the first night! I’m afraid I could use the same line editor. 😉

  3. it’s so awesome tha you are doing this, and with your dad no less! it is inspiring on many levels! go you! and your dad! :)

    • Tigress, your comments never cease to make me smile from ear to ear. Thank you friend, your words mean more than you know and just make me smile. :) J

  4. Joel – im a long time reader, minimal commenter. I’m really looking forward to hearing your feedback on this course as its something I’ve thought of doing for years. I’m pretty obsessed with food working in the industry but front of house. As an aside I did a blog post on kimchi today, using your and tigress’ method/tips

    • Sarah B,

      Thanks for the comment – I know it’s tough to comment (I never comment as much as I mean to) but it’s really nice to hear from people who read so thank you!

      The course, so far, is great. A few little tricks that will fill in gaps of my fundamentals which I am most excited about. I’ll do some posts as we learn more for sure.

      How did the kimchi work out? I’d love to see your post but there’s no link?



  5. way to go Joel and Paul…..enjoy the course. And Joel, I’ve no doubts you will look great and right at home in Chef’s Whites!

  6. Ayngelina says:

    I took that class a few years ago along with a sauces and marinades course, sushi, French Farmhouse cooking…I really want to take the charcuterie class but I really don’t want to have to buy new shoes.

    • I had no idea! I’ll let you know when I take that one and try to bribe you into shoes – apparently Marks Warehouse has them for around $30… heh. :)

  7. Joel am the luckiest mother in the world to have you as a son. As you know your Dad never talks too much about doing any thing he just does it. Well not true in this case- he talks about it constantly even to strangers. Love it-must be that french blood rubbing off!

    • I’m the lucky one Ma!

      I have gained an equal appreciation of life from each of you – in this case I suppose it’s your ability to speak about such things and his to obsess! It’s fun to be there with him – and you and I have to plan something (and I am excited to learn some fusion from you too!).



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