Thursday, June 30, 2022

If you happened to meander through Yeshivat Frisch’s main hallway this year and think you smelled fresh schnitzel, freshly chopped herbs, Moroccan delicacies or chocolate babka, you weren’t dreaming. You just got a whiff of one of the many delectable dishes prepared from scratch by the 25 students in Frisch’s inaugural, year-long culinary science senior elective, titled “Conquering Cooking Methods.”

The course (which will iy”H recur) was taught by Frisch office whiz and former private chef Toby Moses, who is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City. “It’s a good life skill to be able to cook for yourself,” said Moses.” It is healthier to cook your own food than buy food. Plus, Culinary science doesn’t just teach you cooking; it’s also about how to be a responsible person and an adult.”

Students came into the class with varying levels of kitchen skills and knowledge. But by the end of the year, all had gained an impressive repertoire of culinary expertise: everything from knife skills and kitchen hygiene to preparing a multi-dish meal where all the food successfully comes out hot at the same time! Students also had the opportunity to hear weekly from a diverse array of guest speakers representing different careers in the food industry—bakers, restaurateurs, cafe owners, supermarket providers, food service directors, caterers, private chefs, food psychologists—as well as halachic aspects of food prep, such as kashrut issues to do with onions and similar foods.

In class, Moses created an environment that was both fun and chock full of practical learning. For example, students learned how to make all food using dorm-friendly equipment—air fryers, electric frying pans, Betty Crocker cookers and magic bullet blenders. But the mouthwatering course syllabus is the stuff of family dinners and foodie dreams: gravlox (cured salmon), homemade ricotta cheese, quesadillas, baked potatoes with lemon garlic aioli, the perfect steaks, crispy brussel sprouts and cauliflower, salami chips, salmon and broccoli and Israeli favorites like shakshuka and falafel from scratch.

“The class has really been the highlight of my day and I loved it,” said Moses. “I love the kids. They were so into it. They literally cheered after everything during the weekly review. Every single person really wanted to learn how to cook.”

Students echoed their head chef’s enthusiasm. Senior Daniella Moadab signed up for the class to solidify her passion for cooking. “We also learn cleaning skills, which is a plus. Toby gave us all the tools to be able to make each thing and let us figure things out on our own. She’s got a vibrant personality and is such a great teacher. Culinary Science is such a different aspect of high school that I did not expect to experience,” said Moadab.

Michelle Elman agreed. “I love that we know how to chop,” she said. “Nobody ever taught me before, but I’m so happy to now know how to do something so basic. Cooking is so essential and obvious as a human being, and I think it is really cool that we’ve been given the ability to experiment with foods and make meals on our own.”

Harrison Tassler shared, “I didn’t know what the class would actually be like but I loved every minute of it—from jumping right into knife skills to learning how to properly season my food, which herbs pair well with which proteins or vegetables and how to incorporate acid to help boost flavor.”

The Culinary Science course is dedicated in loving memory of Rodney Grundman z”l who served as treasurer of the board and chaired the school’s scholarship committee for many years. He was known for his tremendous sensitivity and skill in balancing the needs of the school and the needs of families, and he generously devoted countless hours to ensuring a yeshiva education for hundreds of children. Rodney was also a wonderful cook whose culinary passion was evident to anyone who sat around his table or tasted his famous challah, which he regularly delivered to his friends and family.

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