Black Hat Chefs- “Moonlighting” at The Chef’s Academy

Last Saturday night was memorable to say the very least. We had a unique chance to use the kitchen of The Chef’s Academy , a local Culinary Arts School, to host a Black Hat Chef training class. It was a rare opportunity for Rex Chef’s Ray D’Ottavio, Jim McGrody, and myself to all collaborate on the same group of students at once. Our students for this three-hour class won the opportunity after bidding on Rexbay, an auction  that runs annually to help support the United Way. The Chef’s Academy, which has locations in Indianapolis, Indiana and locally here in North Carolina offers Associate’s Degree programs in both Culinary Arts, and Baking and Pastry, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree program in Hospitality & Restaurant Management.

The format of the class was was based of our Black Hat Chef Level One Module. After getting a detailed tour of the culinary school by Eddie Wilson, Chef of  The Chef’s Acadamy’s  N.C. location, students went right to the main kitchen and started  learning. I started out by doing a basic knife cuts demonstration, showing them how to properly dice, and julienne potatoes, carrots, and onions. Soon after, they were cutting there own mirepoix to make chicken stock from scratch to be used by the school at a later date.

Chef Jim stepped in shortly after and started to speak on the importance of making stocks properly, as they are the foundation of cooking. Jim thoroughly went over all of the different types of stocks, and what they are used for. 

As the stock started simmering, I started a demo with the class on the proper technique of fabricating a whole chicken. All three of us were surprised on how the class found this very easy,  and that within 15 minutes of the demo, all students had properly fabricated their own.  One of the classmates, at age 12 did an exceptional job at this. Impressive.

Now let’s be real….I  personally feel that this is something everybody should know how to do, as you can save plenty of money over time. I encourage you to go to your local supermarket and look at the price of whole chicken vs. boneless breast meat, you’ll very quickly know what I’m talking about $$$$.

So  now that the veggies are cut, the chickens have been butchered, and the homemade stock is simmering, it was off to the cooking range to have some fun.The hot saute pans, fresh herbs, demi glace, white wine, heavy cream, The Sizzle. The students were  being  shown the classical dish Chicken Fines Herbs. But most importantly, they learned how to SAUTE.

Here is a basic recipe for this excellent dish.

Chicken Fines Herbs

**Chicken Supremes are boneless chicken breast with the first wing joint still attached.

  • 4 each chicken Supremes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour as needed
  • Clarified butter as needed
  • 2 T fine diced shallots
  • 4 oz dry white wine
  • 8 oz chicken stock
  • 4 oz veal stock.. Beef stock can be substituted
  • 4 oz heavy cream
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 1 T chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1 T chopped chervil (Optional)


  1. Dry chicken breast and season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour and shake off excess
  2. In a hot pan with 2 oz clarified butter , place
    breast skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes, flip over and cook on other side
  3. Remove chicken from pan and pour off excess grease. Add shallots and sauté until soft.
  4. Deglaze pan with wine and reduce by half
  5. Add stock and reduce by half
  6. Add cream and herbs. Replace chicken in sauce and cook until sauce has slightly thickened and chicken is cooked through.

All in all it was an excellent evening that I’m sure will be the first of many more to come. All students left the kitchen with a bit more confidence and knowledge then what they walked in with, and the Black Hat Chef’s had a great time teaching as always. Special thanks to Eddie Wilson at The Chef’s Acadamey for making this wonderful evening possible.

Back to work  now, always grinding!


About Chef Ryan CEC

I'm the Executive Chef for Rex Healthcare's Culinary & Nutritional Services team in Raleigh, NC. We are doing some amazing things. We are changing the perception of "Hospital Food"- one meal at a time.
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