Graduation took place at Kendall College last Saturday and another round of students will begin to navigate their way through the varied and hazardous routes to success in this exciting profession known as the culinary arts.

It was a moving commencement ceremony, as it always is at Kendall, overflowing with happiness and high hopes for the future. For me, fortunate beyond belief to have had a small hand in the education of so many, I am once again humbled. And so I reflect:

Apart from teaching correct cooking procedure and the general workings of the professional “real world” kitchen, the ability to inspire my students is by far the most important and rewarding challenge I face each and every day. Coming to and engaging in any new endeavor-especially in a demanding kitchen-is fraught with drawbacks and pitfalls that can too easily dampen the spirit of any novice cook who has yet to gain the all-important self-confidence so necessary to his/her success.

Strange as it may seem, one of the major tasks I face as a culinary teacher is getting my students to taste their own cooking. Indeed, even getting some of them to taste foods that are new and unfamiliar can be just as much of a challenge. Yet nothing could be more important! So important, in fact, that we have posters displayed throughout the hallways and kitchens at Kendall College, boldly proclaiming the acronym T.A.A.T., urging and insisting that students Taste, Analyze, Adjust, and then Taste the food again.

More importantly, tasting should be done often and routinely throughout the cooking process, not only to ensure the food is correctly seasoned, but also to help develop a permanent “palate memory” that ultimately will become the real key to producing consistent cooking results.

With T.A.A T. in mind, here’s a recipe for a food that invites tasting. And though the food is familiar, its application here could be cause some trepidation among the less adventuresome-unwarranted to be sure once the tasting has begun.

Bing cherries are in season this week, abundant, reasonably priced, and just right for Cold Cherry Soup in the warm summer weather. Here’s the recipe:

Cold Cherry Soup

  • 2 pounds fresh cherries
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ½ cup sugar, more or less to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Kirshwasser (cherry liquor), optional
  • 1 cup whipped cream or sour cream
  • Pit the cherries using a cherry (or olive) pitter
  • Cut a dozen or so in half and set aside to be used as a garnish for the finished soup
  • Combine the sugar and water in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved to make simple syrup
  • Puree the cherries in a food processor or blender with ½ cup of the simple syrup
  • Strain the cherry mixture through a sieve
  • Combine the strained cherries with the remaining simple syrup, lemon juice, and kirsh (if using)
  • Taste!
  • Analyze!
  • Adjust!
  • If it’s too tart, adjust with more sugar, a tablespoon at a time
  • If it’s too sweet, add some more lemon juice
  • Taste again!
  • When it tastes the way you like it:
  • Serve in well-chilled soup cups, garnished with the cherry halves and a dollop of whipped cream

A perfect summer treat!

Join the discussion on social media!

Frank Chlumsky

Frank Chlumsky, former executive chef of Philander's restaurant in Oak Park, teaches in Chicago at Kendall College's School of Culinary Arts. In his 37-year career, Frank has owned restaurants in Michigan...