Located at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, French culinary school L’ecole de la Maison offers resort guests the option to enhance their basic cooking skills and develop a passion for cooking. Courses are faithful to traditional French recipes, but geared towards the home kitchen.
Self taught, Chef Scott Baker admits that he always knew what good food was, aided by the aromas in the kitchen as his mother prepared dinners and special baking for the holidays. His passion for the professional culinary arts was nurtured when he begain working in restaurants at the age of 16. Already an artist practicing in oils, watercolor and clay, these mediums provided a developed eye and finesse for the creative manipulation of food. Chef Baker quickly moved from bussing tables to Executive Chef of a private city club in Iowa. He then realized that he would need to learn the fundamental skills need to continue moving upwards in culinary mastery. Encouraged by his wife to attend the best culinary school regardless of cost, he attended the Culinary Institute of America. Delivering what it promised, in December of 2000, he started at the Osthoff Reort as Executive Chef. He competes in local competitions, continues to attend classes, workshops and seminars. He now teaches the essentials of European cooking and baking, their cooking school dedicated to food enthusiasts. He develops his own recipes that are classically based.
Chef Baker proudly points out “we don’t cheat or try to make it easy.” He started the class by talking us through the recipes and meeting the assistants. A table was laid with a crisp white linen tablecloth, cutlery and glasses where we would later enjoy the multi course meal that we were to prepare. Assistants were on hand to help us find ingredients and equipment as we bumbled our way around the kitchen. We worked steadily all morning, dividing the tasks, scurrying around the kitchen madly, asking questions, and constantly learning. Chef Baker demonstrated a simple knife tactic to me which made chopping shallots easy.
Finally by noon, we were ready for our feast: We started with Seafood Crepes, and Lyonnaise Salad, served alongside French Gougeres, so scrumptious, we had to refrain from jamming them into our mouths. But refrain we did, as we knew the main dish was hearty and fabulous: Beef Steak au Poivre, Gratin Dauphinoise, and green beans with walnut, butter, served with freshly baked baguettes. The grand finale was the Lemon-Almond Roulade served with Riesling Poached Rhubarb Compote. What a phenomenal learning experience, savouring new cooking techniques bite by bite.
Classes are held three days a week, and after a day spent in the kitchen, Chef Baker does most of the cooking at home for his wife and four children. He likes to get the children involved making sheets of fresh pasta. “ Everyday foods are best kept simple” adding “flavor comes first.”
Workshops, single and multi-day and weekend courses span such topics such as Artisan Breads, Food and Wine Pairing, Crepes and Galettes, Chocolate Desserts and much more.
For more information: www.cookingschoolatoshoff.com