Another perspective on teaching the hockey prospects to cook. Thanks to Chef John DiGiovanni.
It’s one thing for chefs to train their cooks on a technique or a dish, but it is something else completely to do the same thing for a group of young hockey players. Their chosen profession is on the ice, making plays, scoring goals, getting into fights…not simmering, pan searing and making dressings. So much planning was required not only to teach them but to make it as interactive as possible and grab their attention.
It started with meeting with the strength and conditioning coach and asking, “what do you want them to learn to cook?”
We weren’t looking to turn them into chefs, just teach them a thing or two to cook for themselves. We discussed meat cookery first. The strength and conditioning coach wanted them to be able to cook a chicken breast and a piece of salmon. We discussed thermometers and proper cooking temps, and that I would create a simple recipe for them to make at home.
Next came grains. Pasta was out, brown rice and quinoa were in. We discussed going over the basic technique and how to add flavor. Then we moved onto salads. The coach wanted them to have a basic understanding of what went into a salad and what things to avoid (iceberg). He also wanted them to know how to make a simple vinaigrette so they could avoid the bottled dressings.
As it was impossible to cram 30 athletes plus coaches and the chefs into the kitchen, we thought it was wise to divide the team in half over two days. With each group split into groups of three rotating through all the stations.
After the first class, we reviewed what we did and made adjustments for the second class to make it more interactive. Let everyone make their own pappiote, making vinaigrettes with a bowl and whisk instead of a blender, starting a large batch of brown rice for them to work with.
It was rewarding to be able to teach what I could to these young hockey players and to give them a glimpse of what I do in the kitchen on a daily basis. I am looking forward and preparing to do the same thing for training camp and beyond.