One would think being a culinary school student is filled with endless meats, sauces, vegetables, spices, stocks, incredible savory and sweet tastes, meals, and sips! Well… it is and it isn’t. I barely have time to eat. Picture this: 24 students, on 4 large stoves, totaling 56 burners, each with 4 saucepans, sautoirs or stockpots, all equally blazing hot with periodic stirring, in between relentless chopping, not to mention the constant yell of “behind you!” (while someone swiftly slides behind me) going on simultaneously. Okay, breath. I have usually 2.5 hours to cook my way through the days lesson, perfect the technique and slide it under my chef instructors nose just before “time to clean!” is called. I often break a sweat, nearly miss slicing a finger, have eaten about 3-5 tablespoons of butter so far, and my feet start to hurt from roughly being the 11th hour of the day that I’ve been on them. It’s a lot. There are good days and bad.
On the bad days, I try and remind myself why I am here, why I get up everyday at 5:30am, and why the universe perfectly aligned and parted for me to be here, er, or did it? This type of day always ends with wine.
On the good days, I laugh with my classmates; Carol, Mackenzie, and Bottai as we seamlessly create, gossip, roast, stir, saute, and complement not only each other but the food we are creating. Banter is heavy and laughter eases the pressure of our tasks. We are also probably about to eat something amazing.
Often times, you can cut the egomaniacle tension in my class with a knife, I think this is why the four of us have banded together. We do our work, build upon our skills, test out things that we are unsure of, and remain humble, because, after all this is only the third month of school. It’s becoming a family, and on the bad days, it sure helps to have these guys.
Foundations II is coming to an end and as we prepare for the next 5 days, of intense cooking, practical exams and review of all the techniques we have learned, I begin to reflect on the amazing instructors who have led us through the last 6 weeks. Chef Herron and Chef Bobby have left their mark. They are equally talented and about 30 years in age apart. Herron, is a tall stocky man, who I have clearly come to learn by now loves anything cooked, sauted, or roasted in duck fat. He seems to be truly interested and inspired by his students, and is fairly close to our age, so he gets a lot of our sick humor. Chef Bobby, is a proud Italian man in his 60’s who’s owned restuarants, lived all over the world and who’s father still makes traditional Italian dinner for a crowd of 40 most Sunday nights. He comes equipped with catchy phrases, like “minus 10!” and “stah that!” when speaking of something of great importance. A former history teacher, and professional chef all his life, he has taught us the history of food through France and Italy, and it has been a delight to learn from him.
[insert cliche] We are the future. We will each someday be a new chef, of roughly 16,000 that will enter the workforce during the month, that we graduate. Yes, the month. We have 18 months to go in our program until we are branded with our stripes and toque. Everyday my plans for the future change. Yesterday I wanted to be a food writer, today I want to study in Spain, tomorrow I’ll probably wander back to the thought of opening up a small bodega somewhere…
18 more months to dream and plan, how exciting is that!?