Thursday, June 24, 2021
Sun Valley Culinary Prepares Local Chefs, Servers for a Blockbuster Summer
Those taking the course tried some of the new skills they learned making African-Style Braised Chicken for lunch.
Saturday, May 8, 2021



Vita Smith handed Chris Koetke a menu. Then she laughed.

"What else can I get you? A massage?" as she started giving him a shoulder rub in jest.

Course Instructor Naomi Everett looks down a line of chefs.

Smith, of Ketchum's Cookbook restaurant, was among the restaurant owners and servers who got a primer on how to elevate kitchen and serving skills ahead of what's expected to be a blockbuster summer. It was the first ever Professional Development course offered by the Sun Valley Culinary Institute and it was made possible by support from Ketchum URA.

While they likely won’t be offering customers shoulder rubs, those in attendance were reminded how important it is to address each diner as if they do matter and how important it is to be an advocate for guests, making it right if they have complaints.

"You want to remind your staff about the joy of serving people," Instructor Naomi Everett told them. "Sometimes that's lost because we get so busy."

Everett coached attendees to serve older people first, unless there are small children. And she emphasized that all diners should be treated equally, no matter who they are or how much money they have.

Naomi Everett answers a question as Callie Rasberry and others work in the kitchen.

"The feedback we're getting is that people are so grateful to get back out and socialize again, to not be confined to home anymore. Most people don't want to be miserable. But things happen and you can be the person who turns things around for them,” she added.

The four-day course included a primer on knife skills and an opportunity to prepare a meal. Participants learned how to understand customer preferences regarding wine and beer and how to pair beer and wine with food. They learned how to handle tipsy diners, acknowledging that many visitors to Sun Valley aren't aware that alcohol affects people differently at elevation than sea level.

They learned how to critically taste food, how to chill and reheat food, how to price a menu and how to  saute, grill, roast, deep fry, poach, blanche, steam braise and stew meats.

And, given the enhanced attention to sanitation during the COVID pandemic, they were reminded to never ever pick up glasses near the rim where people's lips have been.

The chefs prepare to start cooking.

Danielle Schecter of Sun Valley Guides said she thought it would be fun to incorporate new skills and knowledge and to learn some additional front-of the house-service skills.

Becks Cardlin, a new server at Rasberrys, learned how to place silverware and dishes and how to pick up plates from the top.

"I want her to learn in a different environment than just having me telling her what to do," said Callie Rasberry. “As for me, I've been in a restaurant business for a long time but you can always get more education--I don't know everything. I learned through this that you sharpen knives on steel and grind them on stone when you have nicks on knives. I probably use the stone more than I should. I won’t now because it wears knives down.

Rasberry added that she loved the African-Style Braised Chicken so much that she left the class and bought chicken thighs, ginger, curry, cardamon, red chili flakes, raisins and dates so she could make it at home that night.

Naomi Everett shows Becks Cardlin and Danielle Schecter how to hold a plate.

Karl Uri, the Sun Valley Culinary Institute's development director, said the Culinary Institute will have another professional development course next fall during slack.

"Part of our mission is not only training new chefs but reinforcing good practices among those who are already in the restaurant business,” he said.


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