It’s all in the gravy!

Today Chef Peter went over the ins and outs of roasting with the KOC cohort.  The trainees discussed everything from the importance of caramelization and trussing to oven types and when to add mirapoix.

IMG_5097And what good is roasting without gravy!  The cohort learned about how to thicken drippings using a roux, a mixture of fat and flour. Adding the fat is the difference between gravy and dumplings. Why is this? Chef Peter explained and shared some interesting facts about the process of making flour – like that flour is flammable!  If you are curious (like I was), watch the video below for the proof!

Sweet Potato Croquettes

What do you make when you have buckets full of donated sweet potatoes? Sweet potato croquettes! As Paula says: “I like [cooking in the St. Vincent de Paul Kitchen.] … It forces us to be creative, because we are working with donations.”

Below, the trainees begin the process by cutting the sweet potatoes.

IMG_2403Next, the potatoes are roasted, smashed, and chilled overnight in a sheet pan. Then, Paula cuts the sheet of chilled potatoes, dunks the pieces in an egg wash, and rolls them in gingersnaps and panko crumbs.

IMG_2413The delicious finished product was used at the Friends of the Poor Walk/Run in Hayward on October 6th!

Day One of Cohort 37 …

It’s Back To School for the new cohort of the Kitchen of Champions, which starts today, Tuesday October 1. This will be our 37th Cohort of the program, which started in 2007. There’s always an air of excitement in the Community Center and Dining Room on the first day of school — new faces, new energy, and clean culinary jackets to give out.

Just 11 weeks and 4 days left to go until graduation! Here we go …


“What’s the most important thing you learn in the Kitchen of Champions Program?” I asked Wayne who was in the back cutting sweet potatoes while the rest of the cohort busily prepared pork ragu, garlic bread, roasted veggies and cranberry OJ for the St. Vincent de Paul’s free dining room.

admpNEh3BpeqLf0ykfYP5ugCkJbpXL1tMIcFrCyY2QdHkMwz-skrGVvDdZxAGp-5qw=w1600“Working as a team and dealing with the fast-pace environment,” he answered. “You only have 2.5 hours” to cook for the hundreds of people served in the Dining Room each day, “so you have to be fast.” That’s why Wayne is prepping for the next day’s meal. Below is the team’s finished product!