Hereabouts people are aware that the nation's foremost school for training chefs, the Culinary Institute of America, has the initials "C.I.A.," but the best upstate tradition, they avoid the obvious and merely call it "the Culinary." Another inspiration for not-so-dry humor is the evolution of the building and grounds overlooking the Hudson River. Once a Jesuit seminary, it now is dedicated to hedonism and furthering commerce through the rapidly expanding hospitability (hotel and restaurant) industry.
The administration and faculty of the Culinary Institute are well aware of an opportinity for leadership. Founded ju well aware of an opportunity for leadership. Founded jued to Hyde Park in 1972 and has grown in size and stature. An imaginative schedule of in-school, and on-the-job training soon will be producing 72 graduates every six weeks from the two year, $10,000 program. New York State has accredited the school, so those finish receive an academic degree. The industry, faced with a seemingly permanent shortage of trained cooks from abroad, offers them a choice of jobs at average starting salaries of more than $12,000.
More than 40 visitors came to the Institute's fifth annual "Fellows Weekend Seminar" early this month. They met students as well as faculty. Amidst a fairly constant program of dining and wining, they were taught some recipes and useful kitchen techniques. As at some gathering of this type on college campuses, the weekend was dedicated to fun.There were some low-key pitches for financial support or donations, and a chance to explore the operation of the school during informal conversations.
Despite its stature, the C.I.A. is undergoing a management crisis. It is caught between the methods of its faculty members, who respect and depend on traditional European methods of training cooks, and the demands of an industry that is enthralled with an automation and fast food. Should young men and women who will soon be working with machines and computer print-outs learn from scratch cooking? Should they absorb the lore and prejudices of Old-World theoreticians? So far, the answer has been yes, but there are pressures to streamline and "modernize" the program.
The man who designed the current curriculum, Henry Ogden Barbour, is gone. President for only three years, he was eager to build up the school. His "expansionist philosophy," as a faculty member called it, included plans to commercialize the Institute through books and television and to establish satellite schools in other parts of the country. Influential board members disagreed and, it is said, disapproved of an opulent life style that contrasts sharply with with the low-key image (which is not swimming in endowment funds) and the hospitality industry wish to project.
Joseph Amendola, a superb culinary technician who has been a key administrator since New Haven days, is in charge. But he has no mandate and, he says, no desire to take over. The search for a new leader has been going on for nearly a year now with no nominee yet put forward.
To the casual visitor, drift is not apparent. Students (an increasing number of women wear the same working white garb as the men) bustle past. A full-scale restaurant used for training, the Escoffier, is booked for weekend meals months in advance.
As with any faculty, there are strengths and weaknesses, but quite a few chefs have migrated up the Hudson from New York City and some of them have become fine teachers. Several of the best of them conducted classes or prepared meals for the Fellows, who pay an annual membership of $100 and coughed up an additional $150 for the Friday evening through Sunday luncheon weekend.
After a buffet reception on Friday, the group consumed a "Russian" breakfast Saturday morning, then made pasta and other dishes for an Italian luncheon. That led to a lecture and training session on bartending. In the evening there was a wine tasting and a dinner in classic French style. Sunday's breakfast was followed by a lecture on baking and free-for-all cakemaking. Chef Frederic Sonnenschmidt, a leader of the U.S. Culinary Olympic team, prepared a farewell buffet using turkey in several variations.
The work was fun and so was the eating. Several of the recipes follow. CHEF PAPINI'S CARBONARA (8 servings) 1 pound spaghetti or home-made flat noodles Salt 1 pound bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces 3 to 4 tablespoons butter, cut in small pieces 4 egg yorks 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (or 1/2 cup Parmesan and 1/2 cup Romano) 3 cups heavy cream Fresh ground black pepper
Prepare a large pot of water for the pasta. Bring to boil and add salt jsut before cooking. Cook to al dente stage, turn off heat and add cold water to stop cooking. (Pasta may be cooked ahead, plunged into cold water, drained and added to the pan at room temperature.)
While pasta water is heating, cook bacon in a large frying pan until firm, but not too crisp stage. Drain off most of fat but save 2 to 3 tablespoons. Drain pasta and add to the pan along with butter bits. Toss and add cream. When cream bubbles, add cheese. Stir in. Sauce will thicken. Now add a very heavy grinding of pepper and salt to taste. Beat eggs yolks with a little cream and pour over pasta. Remove pan from heat and mix in yolks. Serve at once. SHRIMP IN BEER BATTER (10 appetizer servings) 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and cut in half 1/2 cup oil 1/4 cup lime or lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon sugar Freshly ground pepper 1 cup flour 1 tablespoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt 10 ounces beer 2 egg whites, beaten stiff (optional)
Marinate shrimp (or pieces of crayfish or lobster tail) in mixture of oil, lime juice, sugar and pepper for at least 1 1/2 hours. Make batter by mixing dry ingredients, then stirring in beer with a fork. Don't beat. Let rest for an hour. (If extra crispness is desired, beat the optional egg white at the last moment and fold them into the batter.)
The shrimp may be cooked in the kitchen or in the dining room. In the kitchen, heat oil in a deep frying pan to 375 degrees. Coat shrimp with batter and deep-fry until outside is lightly brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels and serve at once. In the dining room, fix shrimp on wooden skewers, pour batter into a bowl and heat oil in a fondue pot. Have guest dip shrimps into batter and cook in fondue pot. ROAST TURKEY LEGS WITH BEER (6 servings) 2 large turkey legs, boned, larded and tied 3 tablespoons lemon juice 2 cloves garlic, peeled 2 tablespoons melted butter 1/2 to 1 tablespoon mild Hungarian paprika 1 teaspoon caraway seeds 1/2 cup diced carrots 1/2 diced celery 1/2 cup diced onions 1/2 diced parsnips (optional) 2 to 3 tablespoons catsup 1 tablespoon flour 1 cup water 1 can (12 ounces) beer Salt and pepper to taste
Have the butcher bone, lard and tie the turkey legs (or do it yourself, using thin slices or parboiled bacon). Brush legs with 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Mash garlic with a little salt and mix with melted butter and paprika. Brush onto turkey legs.
Place 1/2 cup water, remaining lemon juice and caraway seeds in a roasting pan. Add turkey legs and roast for 40 minutes at 325 degrees, basting occasionally. Add the vegetables and cook for an additional 20 minutes.
Remove legs. Keep warm. (If cooking ahead, let cool, cover and store in refrigerator.) Add catsup to pan, stir in and cook for 5 minutes. Add flour, stir in and cook for 5 more minutes. Add water and beer, stir well, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender and puree. Strain. Taste and correct seasoning.
Pour sauce into a pan. Remove string from legs and slice into serving portions. Reheat in sauce. Serve turkey and pass sauce separately. TURKEY STEAK INTERNATIONAL (4 servings) 4 turkey steaks (breast filets), 4 ounces each Flour 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed and diced 1 small tomato, peeled, seeded and diced 1 clove garlic, mashed with a litle salt 1 tablespoon lemon juice 1 cup brown sauce 1 tablepsoon catsup 1/2 tablespoon red jalopeno sauce 1 teaspoon chili powder 1 tablespoon butter 4 slices Monterey jack cheese Optional garnish: 4 peach halves 2 tablespoons apricot brandy
Prepare turkey steaks by flatening them slightly with the side of a cleaver or knife. Slice cheese. Pour oil into a large frying pan. Mix avocado, tomato and garlic with lemon juice. Add brown sauce, catsup, jalopeno sauce and chili powder. Mix well. Melt butter in a sauce pan, add mixture and heat until warm but don't cook as it will become bitter.
Heat oil while patting turkey steaks dry and lightly dusting them with flour. Saute steaks over high heat, turning once. Remove to a heat-proof serving platter. Spoon avocado sauce over turkey and top each steak with a slice of cheese. Bake for 5 minutes in a preheated 350-degree oven. Meanwhile, pour off oil from saute pan, add peaches and heat them. Add brandy to pan and deglaze. Pour drippings over peaches, add to platter and serve along with rice. LEMON MOUSSE (8 to 10 servings) 1 1/4 cups egg yolks 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 1/4 cups lemon juice 1 1/4 cup plain gelatin 12 ounces pineapple juice Rind of 2 lemons, grated or minced 1 1/4 cups egg whites 2/3 cup sugar 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped
Beat egg yolks with 1 1/2 cups sugar until sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Dissolve gelatin in lemon juice, heat just short of a boil. Off the heat, stir in pineapple juice and lemon rind. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, then gradually beat in 2/3 cup sugar to make a meringue. Fold gelatin mixture into yolks and sugar in a metal bowl set in a larger bowl filled with ice and water. As it becomes cool and syrupy, fold in meringue, then whipped cream. Transfer to a souffle or charlotte mold and chill 4 to 6 hours. Unmold and decorate as desired with additional whipped cream and macaroons or lady fingers.