Live Love Laugh.....Laminate!!!

Heid’s Blog is brought to you today by the numbers ‘8’ and ‘1’, and the letter ‘L’. If you’ve ever taken a Baking or Pastry class, you’ll get that reference immediately. If your only thought was of the gang on the left, that’s fine, too!!

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Challah.......Wait For It!!!!!

…….Lujah! Now be honest. What did you think I was gonna’ say? Hee Hee!! Emerging from the storm of WEEK 6, we entered the relative calm of Chef Meyer’ Baking 101. In the culinary world, a wee rivalry exists between those who are patisseurs and those who are not. Was I excited about it? Not really; but I kept an open mind, and again, it opened my eyes.

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WEEK 6!!!!!

Whenever anyone mentions “week 6” within the hallowed halls of Arizona Culinary Institute, you get the feeling that scary movie music and a Vincent Price voiceover are imminent. “So, you ready for WEEK SIX?” “Is it WEEK 6 already?” “God, you look like hell! Oh right, it’s WEEK 6!”

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I Think I Need a Nap, Eh?

If I have to nappe a demi sauce in the next few months, it will be too soon. Weeks four and five took us into the mesmerizing macrocosm of meat and poultry. As much as I love a demi based condiment, the process of seasoning, tasting, seasoning and then tasting, tasting, and tasting again became a bit much. Nappe is the art of having the proper texture to lightly coat foods, not to mention getting you a passing grade from your Chef based on his scientistic and subjective palate.

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"Holy Food Science, Batman!"

Pictured is Chef Wolf skillfully laying down some liquid nitrogen for our experience in "Dipping Dots" style ice cream. A special class was held Saturday for current and former students of ACI to dip (sorry) our toes into the wonderful world of molecular gastronomy, aka Modernist Cuisine. Modernist Cuisine incorporates science and the understanding of HOW food reacts when it cooks, to change the way we think about food and cooking. Change is good.

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Bring on the Sauce! Oops, wrong kind of sauce!!

When Chef told us that we'd be studying about and making sauces last week, you couldn't slap the smile off my face or stop me from immediately opening my book to Chapter 8. Well, maybe not THAT much of a freak, but I did impart to our Captain that if he thought I had asked a lot of questions before, just wait until we delved into this little market basket.

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Personalities and Pronunciation

Week 2 began with a massive respiratory infection. Ugh!! Washing my hands became ‘Monkish’ and I was constantly spraying the elbow area of my Chef coat with disinfectant. Cold medication and I are less than copacetic. It made for some interesting conversation; I pulled back on my salt content and brought a bottle of AirBorne for my fellow students.

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"Sponges, Captains and Mise en Place"

Does anyone know where I can get a standalone hard drive for my brain? Holy crap! Yes, they say that the gray matter contained in the cranium is a sponge; however, it does come in various shapes, sizes and capacities to absorb. If I put my hands on either side of my head and squeeze, culinary terminology starts gushing out of my mouth.

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"The New Knife Kits are Here!"

The new knife kits are here! The new knife kits are here! And not only that, I found my special purpose. I’m going back to school, Arizona Culinary Institute, to be exact – Boo Yea!! Classes start May 18th and I’ll be the one up front terrorizing my instructors.

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Demi-Glace and a Damned Great Guy

The first time I met Glenn was at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival where I was ‘getting my feet wet’ with the ACF. He drifted into my peripheral, white-coated and commanding. I turned to face this figure and looked up…and then up some more…and I thought, “This guys a Chef?  No way!  Are you sure he’s not a captain of a fishing boat, or maybe a herder of bovines on the craggy bluffs of Norway?  Wait, wait--I know! He’s the leader of a Harley Gang!”

Well, come to find out, he did sail the seven seas and twice around the world.  Glenn grew up on a farm in Connecticut, raised cattle and outlined cuts of meat on their bodies with indelible ink. Maybe he didn’t turn out to be the leader of a Harley Gang, but he was definitely a leader who adored his bike and those who shared the joy of the open road.  But I digress…

Upon our first meeting, I hoisted a 20-pound bag of ice over my shoulder--you know, like a lady--and he walked up to me, shook his head in that way that he did, chuckled a bit and said, “What are you doing?”  I replied, “I’m helping!” Obviously, I should have said, “Trying to impress you!” But he knew that, and as our friendship grew, I came to understand that Glenn didn’t want to be impressed. He was a man who sought authenticity.

We became compatriots in the ACF and I, in turn, sought his advice constantly. He represented his beloved ACI on radio and film with into the Soup and then he did it just for fun! He was a walking, talking, culinary encyclopedia that I called upon for answers to on-air questions like, “Why does fennel taste like licorice?”  “Is there really such a thing as lemur shit coffee beans?” “Is Veloute a Crayola color?”  He’d lean into his mic with that smile on his face and translate the complex language of the kitchen in a way that even the most novice cook could understand. It’s just one of the reasons why his students loved and respected him: He was an accessible genius.

I’d call him on a Friday night when I’d screwed up a sauce and he’d tell me how to fix it, or in dire circumstances, where to get the best pizza. Glenn always had my back and I hope somewhere along the way, I had his.

My final frolic in foodie land with Chef Glenn Humphrey was over Super Bowl weekend. I got a last minute call to employ Grey Tie Events for a VIP. They wanted two breakfasts, dinner for 8 and me to Chef it.  Um, I don’t think so.  “Hey Glenn, can you help me?”

He told me that he had been in the hospital the week before, so I convinced myself that I could pull it off on my own; but as I began to prepare for the occasion, images of a straightjacket and padded room filled my head and I couldn’t find my flask. I panicked and called my ol’ compatriot again.  He said, “Give me the menu and I’ll cook it!”  Despite being sicker than any of us knew, he got my back; and together, we knocked it out of the park!

You’re probably wondering where that Demi in the title fits into this little missive.  VIP dinner menu included some Prime Rib-Eyes and Glenn, being the classy and uber prepared act that he is, brought along a quart of heaven, just in case.  Lucky for me, our clients’ tastes leaned toward the more simple side of steak sauce. So, Glenn asked if I’d like to take it home. Hell, yes!!

When I went to visit him in the hospital just hours before he passed, I said, “Hey Glenn!  Guess what I had for breakfast?  Scrambled eggs and Demi-Glace! I put that shit on everything!”  I saw a twinkle in his eye, heard a faint chuckle, and he shook his head and smiled.   

Damn, he was a great guy!