J-Term: Culinary Adventures in the Art of Cooking

Gabe A. ’22, High School student

This week marked the end of Winter Break and the beginning of the spring semester, which also means it’s time for J-Term at Post Oak’s High School. For two weeks, students will have the opportunity to pursue topics that relate directly to their interests, thanks to a diverse list of course offerings. Some of these courses are created by the faculty, while others are actually proposed and led by the students themselves.

One awesome J-Term offering this year is The Art of Cooking, a hands-on cooking class for aspiring chefs of all skill levels. In this course, students develop a greater understanding of the ingredients they use and are also introduced to a variety of cooking techniques and methods. Students are assisted by actual professional chefs, who ensure the end result is minimally edible, in addition to ensuring that students are practicing proper safety procedures at all times. Owing to the large number of students who signed up for this course, the group was split in half based on culinary proficiency between “basic” and “advanced.” Both groups have already created some delicious dishes in the first few days of this course, and I’ve been told there have not been many leftovers.

On Day 1, the “basic” group created bibimbap, a Korean dish composed mainly of vegetables and rice, as well as meat on occasion. Following a lesson on knife techniques by Chef Jessica, the group worked closely together to assemble and prepare all the ingredients. Each student then selected the ingredients they wanted in their own final dish and cooked the ingredients themselves. Just about every student thoroughly enjoyed their final dish, and everyone was proud of what they had accomplished on the very first day.

On Day 2, the “basic” group cooked a traditional American breakfast. Many students initially struggled with cooking eggs, but thanks in large part to Chef Averille’s helpful tips and patience, the students eventually got the hang of it. The group then moved on to making pancakes. Once again, many students experienced frustration as some pancakes came out clumpy or dry. Nevertheless, the recipes were perfected, and the pancakes were devoured by lunchtime. In the afternoon, the group made diced potatoes tossed in a garlic and pepper-infused seasoning mix, with paprika sprinkled on the top for good measure. The students experienced fewer difficulties with this dish, and it also came out very flavorful. Following a full day of cooking, the group was very tired, but all were in high spirits and enthusiastic about the upcoming days.

Meanwhile, the “advanced” group also tried their hand at breakfast dishes. The first dish they made was eggs, and in stark contrast to the “basic” group, this experience was described as “easy.” In fact, a few brave students were so confident in their abilities they even began flipping the eggs in the air. After a successful morning session, the group made pancakes and waffles during lunch and generously offered them to students in other courses. I was fortunate to try the waffles myself, and they were excellent.

On Day 2, the “advanced” group used pastry crust to make quiches and sweet fruit tarts. The process was pretty difficult, especially when it was time to roll the dough. The students had to work very quickly on this step because the butter was at risk of melting and making the dough too soft. While the quiche was in the oven, the students displayed their creativity by decorating their sweet fruit tarts and basically transforming them into works of art. Although some students were apprehensive about destroying their art when it was time to eat, their doubts went away as soon as they tasted the tarts because they were absolutely delicious.

Interestingly enough, each student appears to be taking away something different from this course. One student spoke about how they learned to appreciate the ingredients. Another student mentioned how they loved learning from and working with the chefs. Yet another student spoke about how the group has bonded a lot through cooking. All the students strongly recommended this course to anyone, even those who don’t have much cooking experience.

Catch up on all the student J-Term blogs here!

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