“Heat is the element of transformation,” writes chef Samin Nosrat, who has worked with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse. Nosrat argues that heat, more than anything else, is what ultimately renders our food from one thing to another. “Heat is flavorless and intangible,” she writes, “but its effects are quantifiable.”
Long before Nosrat finished her recent book, Salt, Fat , Acid, Heat, (which I highly recommend), the culinary minds at Living Web Farms have been set on providing foundational cooking classes– free, accessible fundamental culinary knowledge to our local community and YouTube audience. This is why we have launched the Elements of Cooking workshop series.
The next class in the Elements series is all about heat. And more specifically, cooking with FIRE. It will be an exploration of the importance of mastering heat in cooking, but through the lens of understanding fire as the most primordial form of heat, and as a defining cornerstone in culinary culture. So, participants will be able to apply what they learn about heat to cooking using electricity or gas, but they will also walk away with a better understanding of fire cooking methodology, and a look into fire science from a cook’s perspective.
Elements of Cooking workshops explore the science and practical application of some of the most basic and axiological knowledge to mastering good cuisine. Our first event in the series centered completely on SALT, and in it we explored the origins of different types of salt, principals for using it, and practical but creative tips for salt’s role in your kitchen based on its chemical effect on foods. (Access the video here.)
For the fire class, I’ll be teaching along with Patryk Battle, as we explore the properties of wood, smoke, and fire and their affect the appearance, aroma, and flavor of food. We will learn how to tweak the culinary outcome of projects based on fire temperature, wood choice, and oxygen flow, along with timing and method of exposure. The class will be taught at our Kimzey Road farm, where we have a wood fired oven, and participants will learn to start and manage a fire for various projects. We will also use a homemade grill for demos, and plan to share several other more primitive fire-cooking methods, such as spit cooking, steam pit cooking, and cooking on a plank. Patryk Battle will share tips for wood fired baking as well.
The emphasis will be on simple, whole foods cooking, and we encourage people to come regardless of whether they feel 100% comfortable with fire. As a female in the culinary industry, it has been particularly meaningful to me to empower women and young people in grilling, smoking, and managing fires for cooking, and to introduce people who have never even started a fire to the excitement of this living cooking method. We will also cover the health considerations of fire-cooked foods, so anyone with concerns about health effects is encouraged to attend.
It is estimated that at least 3 billion people worldwide still cook over an open fire as their main source of heat. Whether you’re just dabbling in flavor mechanics, want to master fire cooking, or just want to have a few tricks up your sleeve when the power goes out, this Elements class will have a little something for everyone.
Future classes in the Elements of Cooking series include a focus on FAT, both plant- and animal based, and ACID, one of the most important components of well-composed cooking that many people overlook.
To sign up, visit http://livingwebfarms.org/workshops/elements-of-cooking-fire/