August 9, 2011

By Chuck Stober

Everyone loves a good road trip. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of my parent’s Chevy station wagon, me and five siblings piled inside, driving across the western United States to visit relatives in Washington, Oregon and California, stopping to eat in diners and dives along the way.

Last night I took a road trip without leaving the August Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder Campus. It was System of Creation Day in Kitchen #1 with Chef Michael Scott and his Culinary Arts cohort. Their theme was “Road Trip Across America” and it was quite a ride.

We started in San Francisco with a Fisherman’s Wharf inspired Petite Cioppino. Along with a perfectly clarified and seasoned broth, what made this dish stand out was the artful use of one of each of three seafood elements – shrimp, mussel, and clam. A crispy crouton topped with a rouille ribbon added a perfect crunch.

For the second course we moved to the Midwestern plains for a Bison Duo of roasted strip lion and braised brisket. Who doesn’t love a good sauce demi? When reduced with red wine this demi was one Escoffier himself would have applauded. The Three Sister’s Succotash (squash, corn and beans) paid homage to an American Indian heritage while the tempura battered squash blossom, hand-picked that morning from Chef Michael’s garden, added a whimsical element to a simple but elegant potato puree.

When the third course arrived, a four-cheese medley with a savory fruit chutney, I knew we were moving fast. The plate included a beautifully runny Haystack Mountain goat cheese from Colorado, sharp cheddar from Wisconsin, and blue cheese from Point Reyes, California.

The final course – a trio of decadent deliciousness – reminded me of why I need to visit New York City. Traditional Mendiants were served along side New York cheesecake truffles and Baklava cigars.

Systems of Creation Days serve two purposes at August Escoffier School Culinary Arts. One is to inspire creativity using methods and techniques taught throughout the program. The other is to instill the need for communication and teamwork when a culinary classroom, or restaurant kitchen, engages in the creative process. Along with being an enjoyable evening with outstanding cuisine shared by students, faculty and staff, last night demonstrated once again why our Culinary Arts program is one of the premier programs in the country.