Stories behind the kitchen

Part I: Basic Classroom.

Its January 25, 2010. I rush into the small brick building I have only been in once before. Even though I am late, I hesitate before I climb the stairs. Class has to be up here, there is only one classroom, I think. I make my way up the stairs and slowly open the door. Eight bodies are already crowded into the small room filled with tall metal tables, a large TV at the front, and a desk where the Chef is sitting, waiting for all to arrive. I cringe, hoping he wont say anything about me rushing in on the first day. I had walked to class and underestimated the 25 minutes it took me to get there. I collect my book and information packet, and sneak into my seat in the back of the class. I glance around at my competition. Everyone looks at least a little bit older than me- I guess I shouldnt be surprised, at 20 Im often the youngest one in the room. But that has never stopped me. My thoughts are cut off as I hear Chefs commanding voice at the front of the class. Less than a half an hour later we had gone over the information packet and were sent home. I take a few notes. Two to four hours of homework per day. (Two to four?!?!) Reading and workbook. In class tests every day. Mid term in three weeks, final in five. Honors is 90%. (Mental note: I better do well.) Homework was Chapter one and three in the book, and workbook pages for both. That was easy enough, I thought.

The next day proved to be much different. Chef wasnt kidding when he told us there would be homework. Somehow my naitivety got the best of me, and I had assumed work in culinary school would be less involved that University. After all, I had just completed three years of nutrition classes- science classes, no less. I loved cooking, this would be a piece of cake. Wrong again. After four solid hours of reading 40-something pages in my huge Professional Cooking book, taking notes and scribbling in my shiny read workbook the night before, I knew this wasnt a joke. We spent the second day discussing the chapters, and left with a take home test and another chapters assignment. I lugged my books the two-plus kilometers home, knowing this wasnt going to be the easy ride I was hoping for.

But I enjoyed my homework. Two to four hours turned into four to six. For once in my life, I sat down and read a textbook as it was a novel. Wearing out my highlighters in less than a month, and furiously jotting notes in my notebook. I drank in all of the facts, committed them to memory and realized this was the way one was supposed to feel when they truly loved learning. In the next few weeks we covered what seemed like everything there was to know about preparing food. Types of heat cooking methods, the different cuts of meat, mis en place, even math. I thought I was DONE with math for good, but nope- recipe conversions, yield tests and food cost came back to haunt me. No matter what was thrown at me, I was determined to do well. I neglected the blog for reviewing a chapter a second time, I spent entire weekends in the coffee shop, sucking down chai lattes while I studied my massive white book. Chapter 8, Stocks and Sauces. Bechamel, Veloute, Tomato, Espagnole, Hollandaise. Chapter 10, Meats. Marlbling, grading, larding, barding, resting. Chapter 12, Poultry. style, kind, class. Chapter 14. Fish and Shellfish. Mollusks, Crustaceans, flat and round

The mid term was as hard as any University mid term I had taken- even more so, possibly, and the final was no different. I studied hard and I did well, but I learned for the first time that passion has a lot to do with how much effort you put into something. Never have I wanted something so bad. Basic classroom was hard, but it was over now and the real heat was on- it was time for the kitchen and I knew it order to keep my marks, I had to rock this. Or, at least try.