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Train with top chefs

From Hell's Kitchen to Chopped, both aspiring and experienced chefs have long competed for top chef status. And now, passionate home cooks have a chance to test out their kitchen chops and earn culinary bragging rights with SAIT's Culinary Boot Camps.

Boot camps run over four 10-hour days. Intermediate home cooks and bakers will be expected to create delicious and visually appealing food under the pressure of a fast-paced kitchen and close watch from a top culinary chef, such as Michael Mandato, SAIT instructor and celebrated chef.

"You're relying on the production of your whole crew - no different from a live kitchen," says Mandato.

That means beginner cooks need not apply.

Can you handle the heat?

To be a cooking camp contender, you need to bring knife and cutting-board skills, understand tasting and seasoning subtleties, and have the confidence to cook quickly alongside a team when the pressure's on. Add to the list of required skills the ability to whip up (from memory) all five mother sauces - béchamel, vélouté, espagnole, tomato and hollandaise - and you've got a class of cooks ready to step up their already impressive game.

Mandato, who has worked in many kitchens as an executive chef, including the Taj Boston and the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis says the pressure is high, but there is room for error.

"If the intensity of Hell's Kitchen is 10, then Culinary Boot Camp is five," he explains.

Unlike the popular reality cooking show, there won't be any outside guests eating the food. Instead, participants will face judgement from their peers when they eat creations from both baking and cooking camps at the end of each day.

"This is a real kitchen and we have high expectations," says Mandato. "I wouldn't serve anything that doesn't meet those expectations."

Biscuits, pastries and pies - oh my! 

SAIT's Desserts and Confections Boot Camp will run in conjunction with the cooking camp and will be taught by Chef Kevin Conniff, who has worked as an executive chef for high-end kitchens such as the Hilton Hawaii and the New York Mariott Marque.

If you're ready to get your hands dirty with flour and sugar, contenders should be prepared to follow a recipe, weigh ingredients and practice kitchen safety and sanitation. Previous experience preparing meringue, custard and chocolate will help the passionate home baker pass basic training with flying colours.

SAIT Culinary Boot Camps run May 31 - June 3. Those who think they can handle the heat can apply online.

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