I really did not know what to expect when I showed up but I do know that I enjoyed the people I met and I think the whole operation was run as professionally as anyone could expect when dealing with personalities. As for the instruction, I don’t think it could have been any better when dealing with different levels of competence and commitment. I enjoyed the whole experience and would highly recommend it (and have) to anyone that is interested in improving their culinary skills.
As an adult educator myself, I really valued how all the chefs taught with so much patience, humour, passion, and mastery of the subject area…which is pretty much as good as it gets in education. The personal stories (and rants), scientific explanations, historical references and sharing of food values really made the experience special and memorable. I also really appreciated that you all took the time to get to know us a little and to check-in with us throughout each week.
I loved the experience, realized right away how little I knew and know now how much more I need and want to learn. The instructors have very different personalities and teaching styles. That provides for a lot of variety and keeps the days and weeks interesting. I also really appreciated that they always made themselves available to provide individual coaching during and also after the daily classes. And thank you for slowly leading us up to a seven-course menu development (The Big Night) over several weeks. Thank you so much for all your teaching and sharing! You are a fantastic group.
The facilities are first class, the curriculum provides the students with incredible exposure to the art of cooking and the worldly knowledge of the chefs, their energy, and dedication to making the daily experience “serious fun” simply incredible! For me personally, Northwest has delivered its promise of changing one’s view of the culinary world making it accessible, challenging and very exciting. The course has energized me to continue exploring, being creative and taking chances in the kitchen as well as honing some skills.
I feel that this course came for me at the perfect time…..what is that old Daoist saying – the teacher(s) arrive when the student is ready…I have no doubt that I will see the ripple effects of this learning for me for a long time to come.
A follow-up to Basics I — new recipes with new techniques, new challenges, new context, new tools (sharpening stone, boning knife, pressure cooker), and more emphasis on plating design. You will also have the opportunity to give some dishes your own spin.
Who is it for? Anyone who has already done Basics I or ready to move their basic kitchen skills to new heights. Like with Basics I, students work in teams of two, and each evening is paired with two wines (beer and cider too). That being said, we have had many people who take Basics 2 without having taken our Basics 1 course. They want to level up more quickly and enjoy the challenge.
In this course we will cover an extensive array of techniques and work with incredible amount of ingredients. Some of what we will cover includes:
- Butchering whole duck and total duck utilization
- Brown stock, demi-glace sauces
- The wonders of dry rubs/marinades/brines
- The amazing advantages of the pressure cooker
- Restaurant-style plating techniques
- Egg Dishes like Spanish Egg-Potato Tortilla, Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise
- Advanced herbs and spices – enhanced flavour combinations
- How to cook, hold, store, re-heat;
- Pasta/Dumpling dishes like Gnocchi, Tortelloni and Manti
- Corn Tacos
- Braising Menu Development
- Seared Duck breast, confit, root vegetable dauphinoise, cherry demi
- Pan seared Arctic Char/tuna
- Octopus salad
- Sicilian Caponata
- Marinated short rib steak
- Ribollita (Tuscan Bean soup)
AND MUCH MORE
Dishes may change or vary depending on seasonality.
What level of proficiency do I require?
If you have very minimal skills, this is for you. If you have pretty good skills, the course is still structured to put improve them and give you the aha! moments to level up.
What is a typical flow of an evening?
We usually cover 3 dishes complete with specific techniques and concepts we deem essential in the kitchen. Instructors (always 2 on the floor) demo, students execute the dishes in teams of two in well-provided stations (with pro students often available as support coaches), and dine (matched with a glass of wine). This is repeated 2 more times. Everything you learn is layered and put into context. For instance, a dish and new technique you lean on, say, Day 5 will reinforce and build upon what you learned on Day 2. In others words, our curriculum is put together with a purpose.
Who typically takes this course?
All age groups between 18 to seniors. Typically, the class is usually split 50-50 male/female. What they all have in common is the desire to learn and walk away with real skills, great knowledge, and freedom from recipe following – in other words, people who are looking for more than just a one-off class.
What do I need to bring?
A quality, sharp knife. If it isn’t sharp, we’ll sharpen it for you on a whet stone. Plus, 2 tea towels, a bench scraper, pen and notepad. We provide photocopied recipes, plus an electronic copy at the end of the course of all recipes. Most of all, bring your ears, eyes, hands, and enthusiasm to learn!
What if I can’t make one of the classes?
Because these classes are almost always full, we can’t offer you to remake missed classes at a later date. However, we encourage you to have your spot filled by friend. We’ll take good care of them.
What if I have food sensitivities, allergies, or dietary restrictions?
We can easily adjust to your needs with almost all our recipes. In fact, the recipes are a guideline, not a must-do written in stone.
What is parking like in the area?
The school does not have a parking lot, but there is plenty of free parking in the neighbourhood between 12-14th Street, Main and Ontario. There is metered parking in front of the school, and free parking on 12th, both after 6pm (which is why we begin classes at 6:15pm).
Other Professional Programs
- Waiting List
8-Day Basics I: A Fresh Start + Hand-eye Opener
If you are ready to bringing serious game to your kitchen, this course will elevate your knowledge, basic skills, and confidence like no other.
6 Day Butchery: Whole Meats
Breaking down and knowing different meat cuts and how to cook them is everything. This course takes hands-on to another level.
8 Day Pastry Basics
Great bread and pastries, from an artisanal sourdough, croissant, and cream puff are about basics done absolutely well. Take home products and new skills beyond your expectations.
10 Week Intensive Plant Based Culinary Master Camp
A comprehensive course focusing on our summer’s bounty, serious techniques, and achieving wonderful food. We teach the same key skills, creative thinking, and plating techniques as in our professional programs. For those ready to seriously walk the walk in the kitchen.
2 Week Boot Camp
Full days condensing the most essential aha! moments of cooking in perhaps the most important 10 days of learning in your life.
The instructors possess both a passion for teaching and an approach to cooking which resonated deeply with me. They approach cooking as a creative endeavor with the “kitchen as studio” as the mindset. You of course learn technique (along with great food history!), but they also push hard to help you cultivate courage and confidence in the kitchen and to become your own unique type of chef. The entire team at NWCAV is really amazing.
Throughout my time at NWCAV, I improved my flavour game and learned much more. By the end of the program, I found myself much more comfortable cooking dishes from other countries introduced to me during the Master Camp such as fresh made pasta and gnocchi. As the program progressed, many of the later recipes required foundation knowledge and skill sets from previous days of learning. I have been to about a dozen schools in my life time because my family moved very often and I have to say these instructors at NWCAV were the best instructors I have met.
After completing the Master Camp I can honestly say that it was everything I wanted, I have no inclination to continue in the industry but I am sure that this would give you a good idea of what the business is about. As for the instruction, each chef was extremely knowledgeable and as different as their personalities were they all brought something different to the table. The chef to student ratio was extremely high, answers and ideas were never far away. Each chef was very entertaining in their own way and it was a real pleasure getting to know them.
Such a great school! Amazing instructors and great curriculums. Absolutely no regrets taking the one year program.
If food is your true passion and you are sitting miserable behind an office desk right now pretending to be interested in what you are doing, this is for you. I encourage you to take one moment and glance at the Northwest Culinary Academy website. The professional programs offered there are a non-conventional rounded approach to food and cooking. Forget your notion of out-dated cooking schools and military kitchen systems. At Northwest, and in addition to acquiring a slaying culinary skill set, you are learning about farming, balance in food, plating design, creative thinking, grace under pressure. One of the best decisions of my life.