For the past three weeks, I’ve been forced to break from the kitchen and brush up on my math skills, in MTH122, a prerequisite for my culinary degree program. Unfortunately the three frustrating years I spent in statistics with Dr. Hudak during my undergrad didn’t exempt me from the now basic fractions, percentage ratios, and long division I’m enduring. I’ve never been a fan of math, but I know this stuff. Needless to say I’ve been bored; however I am trying to change my attitude towards this class. Dr. Cooper, my professor is an engaging, charismatic guy, and he certainly knows how to get his students to pay attention. This particular section of students come from all walks of life, with all different levels of math skills, so this class is undoubtedly very important for some. I tend to just sit in the back and half listen, text on my phone, or read whatever foodie magazine I’ve been carrying around for the day. Dr. Coop and I have an understanding, I know my sh*t, so he understands my boredom.
Yesterday he caught my attention when I heard the word cocaine come out of his mouth. In a demonstration to identify different types of weight and measurement, he so aptly described a ‘key’ or a kilo of cocaine having 1 thousand grams. Every single person in this class was suddenly listening and participating. In some instances I would say he reminds me of Kramer, from Seinfeld, he goes into wiggly tangents and raises his voice in silly tones, of course for the reaction, but also to keep the subject of mathematics light and fun.
There is a purpose to all of this though, and that is, we simply cannot graduate and be great chefs without knowing math; conversions, fractions, weight, and measurements right off the top of our heads! What good would I be in a kitchen if I cannot bake a basic French bread using proper weight to volume measurement, or convert a recipe on a slower service night from 150 portions to 63 portions? Being able to accurately measure by way of adding, subtracting, dividing, or converting whether in metric or US measurements is something that has to become second nature. Food costs and profit depend solely on the yield of a dish. Knowing how much money each component costs is factored in to each part of a dish, thus calculates expected profit.
Dr. Cooper shared an article with us from http://www.eHow.com that showed the importance of knowing this stuff! Finally he’s making me feel like this class is not a total waste of my time! Math in the kitchen! Okay I can get into it, it’s not rocket science after all…
Anxiously awaiting to get back in the kitchen… only a few more weeks to go.