My parents arrived! Around 5pm yesterday evening, and I was already in the kitchen, working away at their special Anniversary dinner!
Behind the Stove Part four: Advanced theory and Personal Chef.
So that was it. We were done in the kitchen after ten weeks of cuts and burns, we were done. But that wasnt to say the work was over. Immediately after beginning advanced theory we started in on what I felt was one of the hardest parts of my culinary school training- math.
I am not a fan of math. Let me rephrase that. I HATE math. Of any kind. Much of this coming from that fact that, excuse my french, I pretty much suck at it. But math, as I learned, is an inportant aspect of being a chef, especially one with a higher position, such as an executive chef. Recipes need to be costed out, yields have to be estimated, food needs to be ordered and food cost needs to be determined for budgets. Its just a fact of life for a chef.
So for the first three weeks of advanced theory, I applied myself. I looked over my notes every night. And I realized early on, it really wasnt that hard. Sure, I hate math, but this stuff applied to food. We were costing out recipes. I actually understood it, and it didnt seem so daunting anymore. Which is why, three weeks in, we had an exam and I passed- with flying colours. I couldnt have been more proud. [Take that, tenth grade geometry teacher…]
With the math aspect behind us, we could move on to more interesting subjects. In Advanced, we focused on different techniques, and special, higher end ingredients that were important in the culinary industry. There was a lot of history (boooring) but we also did some really interesting stuff, like having demos in the kitchen, where chef showed us how to make double smoked bacon and cured pork belly (I died and went to pig heaven, I tell you). We learned how to make mortadella sausage, gravlax and prepare foie gras. We learned about sous vide cooking and I ate the most addicting pieces of fennel I have ever eaten. We learned about caviar- no, we didnt get to taste, and we worked on a big restaurant project where we designed our own restaurant, menu and all. It all only added to the education I had already received, and made me feel like I was going to be a much more well-rounded chef. Oh, and it also made me want to go out and buy a smoker and a pork belly. But thats another story
After five weeks of advanced theory and thirty weeks total I had completed the chef de cuisine aspect of my culinary training. I only had one component left: personal chef. I had been excited about personal chef since the minute it dawned on me, this is what I want to do. About halfway through my culinary training I realized being a personal chef would be the best way to combine my love of nutrition with my passion for food. So naturally, I was anxious about learning all it takes to be a personal chef.
The course wasnt easy. There was a lot involved, including exams, a business plan project and a practical test. But I entered all with the utmost attention, because I knew that I needed to do this right in order to get closer to my goals. But I loved it all along. I even mentioned on the blog one day that I was excited to go to class- my chef saw it and said it made his day, hah! I didnt even realize how many people were reading my blog when I put it on facebook.
In any case, I hope this series gave all of you who read it a little more insight into my own experience in culinary school. That, its not going to be a walk in the park. I never said it was going to be easy. But it is 100% worth it, if you want to be a chef. I urge you to research schools in your area and find one that fits you. I know the one I chose was a perfect fit for my needs, and I have not regretted my choice a single day since I made it. I had a great, albeit trying at times, experience in Culinary school. I hope this encourages others to follow your dreams. If you want to do something, do it. Nothing in my life has been more rewarding than following my heart 700 miles to a place where I knew no one, and educating my passion.