Monday, May 17, 2010

Pop Culture Passionistas' Brush with Juan-Carlos Cruz

We can neither confirm nor deny reports that former Food Network star Juan-Carlos Cruz is guilty of solicitation to commit murder. But we can tell you this – he was not a great cooking class instructor.

Not long before he became the Calorie Commando on everyone’s favorite cooking channel, we took a six-week course at a local cooking school and Juan Carlos was our instructor. In reality, he was our instructor for three weeks because that’s how long we lasted before we left Juan-Carlos’ kitchen and got a credit to take someone else’s class.

There were a couple of issues:

1.     There seemed to be only one thing that Juan-Carlos liked to talk about more than food and that was Juan-Carlos. In between the scattered cooking lessons, there were a lot of anecdotes about his weight loss, his life as a pastry chef, and a lot of other stuff that we’ve tuned out over the years. Others in the class were probably charmed. We just wanted to learn how to poach fish.

2.     That actually leads to issue number two. Each week the class was broken into a theme. During week two (aka, Fish Week), a fellow student asked what seemed like a great question to us, “Could you please explain the different kinds of fish?” To which our instructor (for which we were paying about $60/class mind you) answered, “Well, there’s the kind that swim.” And with this he made the universal symbol for fish swimming by putting his hands into a prayer like position and wiggling them back and forth. He continued, “Some fish like to crawl along the bottom of the ocean. Um, Jewish people don’t eat seafood.” All truisms about our friends in the sea, but, to our disappointment we still don’t know if cod is oily or mahi-mahi is flaky. He did kindly point out that there was a book on fish in the back of the classroom if anybody wanted to look up the real answer.

3.     On to week three, the highly anticipated Meat Week. Juan-Carlos came about 28 minutes late to class. We still remember that it was about 28 minutes because we were so annoyed we started taking notes about how annoyed we were around 7 minutes into waiting for him. When he arrived for Meat Week (yeah), he started to unpack grocery bags of boxed pasta, jarred tomato sauce, and pre-grilled veggies. He gleefully announced that he had promised his mother he’d make lasagna for some big family event that night and, good news, he was going to teach us how to cook it, too. Sadly, we already knew how to open a jar of tomato sauce and we chose not to return to his classes after that.

Again, we can’t tell you if the reports are true. He didn’t seem like a bad guy, like we said, just not a great cooking class instructor. We watched his cooking show a few times and the low calorie versions of popular dishes seemed liked they’d be tasty – but we lacked the necessary cooking skills to give them a go. We wish he’d shown us a few of his tricks when he was our teacher – maybe he got to them in week four.

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