Chef Cinthia in the kitchen with students in February, 2020.

COVID-19 hasn’t stopped our students from learning! While the OGI Culinary Training Program has been convening virtually since March, we’re thrilled to announce that students will be safely welcomed back into the kitchen this month in small groups to ensure their graduation this year!

During our virtual sessions, students explored all the aspects of eggs, and how to spice up pantry staples such as rice, grains and pasta. Students also received a video lesson from Executive Director and life skills instructor Judy Lamborn on how to stay calm in a crisis, reviewing the program’s core life skills: Positive Attitude, Time Management and Decision Making.

While full class sessions won’t begin until 2021, limited-sized classes will allow students to develop a wide range of kitchen skills and in-person coaching will allow students to get the most out of their time with Chef Cinthia. Here are some things they’ll be working on in the coming weeks:

Knife techniques – Knowledge of basic knife skills and care are vital to any future chef. Students will not only learn how to clean, maintain and sharpen knives, but will also learn how to hold knives properly and safely to swiftly chop, slice, dice, mince and julienne. Once training is complete students will be on the cutting edge of knife techniques!

Sautéing – This cooking method may sound like an everyday skill, but properly sautéing food takes a chef’s expertise. Students will learn about various smoke points and how to determine the right type of fat to add to the pan for different ingredients and cuisine. Students will also learn how to properly move food around the pan to avoid unwanted browning or burning.

Zesting – We’re ready to explore all types of citrus with this aromatic lesson! Students will gain experience in a variety of ways to zest including with a zester, grater, vegetable peeler or mandolin. Students will also learn how different shapes and types of zest can be used in recipes or as a vibrant garnish.

Our students and staff have done a tremendous job weathering the transition to virtual learning, and we still plan to utilize virtual classes for some of our coursework. As we move back into the kitchen with small groups, we’ll take all precautions to keep everyone safe including wearing masks, distancing cooking stations, and washing hands and sanitizing cook stations frequently. Chef Cinthia and Judy are excited and ready to see everyone again, and to return to the personal level of instruction that is so important to our program. Let’s get cooking!